Ay Chihuahua! Creating Color from Black and White

Chihuahua: Make color from B&W: Gouache, 8x10"

Chihuahua: Make color from B&W: Gouache, 8×10″

When the Sktchy (see previous post) Weekend Art Extravaganza inspiration was to make a color sketch from a black and white photo I found the photo below and couldn’t resist putting a little color in this little guy’s life. I used to make fun of Chihuahuas, comparing them to rats (which can also actually make good pets if you don’t mind the smell). But after a couple of friends adopted chihuahua mixes, I have come to really appreciate their funny and quirky personalities.

B&W Photo Reference

B&W Photo Reference

Some Sketchy Sktchy Fun

Candlelight, Gouache portrait for Sktchy, 10x8"

Candlelight, Gouache portrait for Sktchy, 10×8″

I so enjoy the Sktchy App where people post their photos, artists post their sketches of the photos and everybody is so positive and encouraging. Each weekend Sktchy hosts a Weekend Art Extravaganza or “WAX,” which is a cue or art concept to inspire artists to apply to their sketches. Last weekend it was “Candlelight.” I found the inspiring photo below on Sktchy and used it for this painting.

Photo reference for candlelight

Photo reference for candlelight

Do join in on Sktchy if you have an iPhone and want practice drawing people (and their pets and home/cities) from all over the world, all ages, all lifestyles. It’s so much fun!

Gouache Still Life Studies

Gouache still life studies, 10x8 inches

Gouache still life studies, 10×8 inches

These were gouache sketches from a couple of months ago that I’m just now getting around to posting. I’m still loving gouache but have been missing using it.

I’m working on two commissioned dog portraits in oils so have put aside most of my other art projects temporarily. I’m enjoying the difficult challenge of painting two very similar dogs with dark brindle fur for two different owners but I’m missing taking the time to draw my daily dream images, play with gouache and work on painting people portraits.

Portrait of Richard for Julia Kay’s Portrait Party

Richard for JKPP, Gouache, 7.5x6 inches

Richard for JKPP, Gouache, 7.5×6 inches

I really tried to focus on two things with this portrait, getting the drawing right and keeping the gouache colors light (gouache dries darker). For once I managed to keep a tilted head tilted in my drawing–for some reason my brain always wants to make everything upright and symmetrical. It doesn’t surprise me since I learned that the image that comes in from our eyes is upside down and it’s our brains that convert it to right-side up. My brain definitely has a mind of its own…oh wait a minute–it is my mind!

Below is the original pencil drawing over which I painted the gouache. I wish I could show you the photo I worked from, but I think those are only meant to be visible to members of Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, which you can apply to join on Flickr and play too, if you want to.

Richard for JKPP, Graphite, 7.5x6 inches

Richard for JKPP, Graphite, 7.5×6 inches

Found Lipstick, Journal and My Pear in Gouache

Found Lipstick, Journal and Pear, gouache, 8x6.5"

Found Lipstick, Journal and Pear, gouache, 8×6.5″

Practicing gouache with found items. The lipstick with purple case I found on the street, the journal at the recycling center’s little “shop” where you leave things you don’t want and take things for free. The pear and jar lid I found in my kitchen so I guess they aren’t officially found items. The cigar box the journal is sitting on was a freebie from the local smoke shop. I love cigar boxes so much! This gouache sketch made me happy…feels like I’m starting to get it.

Painting with Gouache: Color Charts, Zorn Palette, Brush Tests

Zorn Palette color chart in gouache, 10x8 inches in A4 Moleskine

Zorn Palette color chart in gouache, 10×8 inches in A4 Moleskine

In trying to learn more about gouache I made a few color charts. I’m using mostly M. Graham gouache which I like much better than the Winsor & Newton and Schmincke I used before. The Graham gouache is creamy and brilliant, rewets well and doesn’t smell (like the W&N). I found that using fresh-squeezed gouache is more fun to work with than rewetting dried paint, but frugality keeps me trying to reuse dried. The best solution is to set up a palette for each session, squeezing out tiny blobs, adding more as needed.

Above is an exploration of the Zorn palette in gouache, a limited palette using only Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, White, and Black. The black paint, when mixed with white, is meant to serve as blue since it is a cool color that can look blue next to warm colors. Next I want to try using it in an actual painting.

M. Graham Gouache paint chart, gouache in A4 Moleskine, 10x4 inches

M. Graham Gouache paint chart, gouache in A4 Moleskine, 10×4 inches

Above is a chart of my gouache colors straight from the tube and mixed with white and each other. Sadly when I removed the masking tape it pulled off some of the paper from the extra large Moleskine watercolor notebook that is my current journal. I don’t recall previous Moleskine WC notebooks having that problem but I’ve switched to low-tack tape now.

Before ordering any new brushes specifically for gouache I wanted to see how the brushes I already had might work so did the test below. I found a few that I liked and ordered a couple of others. I’ll do another post about my gouache palette and brushes I’ve settled on soon.

Old brushes-testing for gouache

Old brushes-testing for gouache

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