Two Oranges: Gouache

Maybe all artists have certain sensibilities for different medium and for each one you have to think and act in a different way. I may have finally come to this realization to day with my two oranges gouache painting.

Normally I would try and work gouache much like my oil paints, then sometimes I would work it like watercolor, which I have no experience in, and neither would work well. Tonight I didn’t force it and just let myself figure out a process through need. I needed it to look a certain way so I tried several approaches and found what works best.

Andrew Wyeth: Detail of painting of Helga
Andrew Wyeth: Detail of painting of Helga

I ended up using an approach similar to Andrew Wyeth one of my most favorite artists. Wyeth, used a technique called dry-brush and he used a different medium in most of his paintings, egg tempera. Gouache is very similar to egg tempera I think, but easier to deal with. The important part is the “dry-brush”. Now your brush isn’t exactly bone dry but most of the water is squeezed out so that it feels dry. The difference is very drastic from normal water media. With a normal ratio of water to paint one could paint large swaths of color in a single stroke covering a huge area, but with a dry-brush you’re forced to work in very small hatching or stippling strokes. Detail and texture is increased but so is the time it takes to work a painting. The nice thing about this is that it’s easy to move back and forth from wet to dry, if I need to cover a large space, dip in more water and spread.

two oranges: gouache, setup

So, yeah, I’m happy with working gouache this way and I think I will continue with this method in the future.

two oranges: gouache, subject

After doing the still life I wanted to work out some ideas in gesture drawing so I followed along with Steve Huston again as he drew gestures on New Masters Academy.

two oranges: gouache, 1-2 min gestures
1 and 2 minute gestures in charcoal and color pencil

Key points

  • Simple yet characteristic
  • Establish the long axis
  • Translate the figure don’t copy
  • Gesture should “ring true” to the pose
  • Structure
  • 2D first then 3D form next
  • Don’t try to finish the whole figure, but also don’t work in details
  • Medium doesn’t matter
two oranges: gouache, 2-5 min gestures
2 and 5 minute gestures using a cheap pen
two oranges: gouache, 2-5 min gestures
2 and 5 minute gestures using a cheap pen


Session Details