Watercolour vs Gouache

Updated: Jan 1, 2020

For the past 3 years or so, watercolour paints have been my go-to medium. My Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours Sketchers' Pocket Box (long name I know) is so easy to carry around that I can have the smallest of bags with me, but can still have a little paint if I wanted. As you can tell from the photos, my watercolour sets are very well used - I love the pigment of Winsor & Newton watercolours so I've haven't branched out to other brands that much.

Gouache has always been of interest to me, a medium that I never experimented with during my A-Levels, but one I've liked the look of when seeing others using it. About 6 months ago I bought the Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache Introductory Paint Set when it was on sale. This set gave me 10 colours, and I bought an extra white as I know from experience with acrylic that white tends to dissappear the fastest due to it being such a vital mixer. 

I've had time to get used to gouache, play around and fall in love with it, so I thought I'd do a little comparison.

Watercolour has a much thinner consistency which can be layered to create rich and bold colours, whereas gouache is more opaque. For example if you had a pencil sketch and you painted over it, it would be much more difficult to cover the pencil marking with watercolour , whereas gouache would cover it much better.

This little leaf painting I did shows the difference between the two mediums in practice, and you can see that gouache is a much bolder, solid colour in comparison. I also demonstrated how with gouache you can layer lighter colours on top of darker, which is somewhat impossible with watercolour. With watercolour you have to start with a light wash and build up colour, whereas you can correct mistakes with gouache and put light on top of dark and vice versa.

You definitely have more play time with watercolour as it takes a lot longer to dry, gouache is quite a quick drier, ideal for when you don't want to be waiting around for one layer to dry before you progress. With this in mind, both mediums can be altered and corrected with water even when the paint has completely dried, unlike acrylic paint. This means you can go back and make changes after the painting has been left for a while, which gives a lot more flexibility with your creativity.

I hope this helps those who are considering trying either of the mediums!

Holly x

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