Let’s talk about paint.

People frequently ask me what kind of paint I like to use, and when my response is “gouache” the next thing out of their mouth is usually, “what’s that?” Most people are familiar with acrylic, and oil, and watercolor. I guess gouache is a lesser known variety, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome!


How do you pronounce the word gouache? Well, it’s one syllable. It rhymes with squash. And wash. And…that’s all I can think of. Gouache.

The best way I can describe it is that it behaves much like watercolor, but instead of being transparent it is opaque. In other words, if I painted a red area and let it dry, I could paint on top of the red area with blue and the red would not show through. If I did the same thing with watercolor, the red would show through, and where the two colors overlapped it would probably look purple.

Make sense?


It’s not too hard to get nice clean edges between colors, and you can lay down big areas of color, and then go in later and add details. It’s also possible to mix colors and get a lot of variation.

It’s so versatile! And that’s why it’s great.

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There are two brands that I like – Windsor and Newton, and M. Graham & Co. The little 0.5 oz. tubes can be expensive, but it is WORTH IT for the quality! I can tell you, it is absolutely true that in the world of art supplies you get exactly what you pay for.


Work surface is important. Recently I have been working on illustration board, but there are other good options out there as well. I also have a few favorite brushes – a good brush is necessary. I could talk a lot about both of these things, but I think they might be conversations for another day!

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My experience with gouache is not as extensive as you may think! In the past I have painted a lot with watercolor and acrylic, and just a little bit here and there with gouache. About a year and a half ago when we decided to expand our card line to include some with hand painted illustrations gouache seemed to be the natural choice to me. Since then that’s about all I’ve been using. I’m still learning, and my painting style keeps evolving. I hope that’s always the case! That is my favorite thing about the whole artistic process – learning and making changes and seeing my work evolve and get better.

Have you ever used gouache? What is your favorite painting medium? Do you have any secrets to share?

:: Carrie ::