Tuesday, January 6

Try Something New--Poster Paint (Gouache)

Today’s Image

One of the goals of Orbisplanis Art Blog is to encourage you to try Something New. Whether you like to admit it or not, Something New is the lifeblood of art and artists (and life in general, but that’s another subject altogether). I’m encouraging you to try Something New in your art that you’ve been thinking about or wanting to do for awhile. It’s a great elixir (as “they” say) for what ails you.

Here’s why.
  • It will give you a new outlook
  • It will raise your spirits
  • It will broaden your skills
  • It will help you focus your artistic ability
  • You will learn something new--guaranteed
  • You will surprise yourself
  • It will be humbling
  • It will be fun

That should be enough to spur you on. Here’s what I did.

Over the past several month’s I kept running across the term ‘gouache.’ I even added it to the ‘Artist Factoids’ section of this blog (see the right-hand column) a while back. I did a little research online just to make sure I understood what it was. I looked up several artists who used it as a medium, and found that it was popular during the time of the Impressionists (Camille Pissarro, for one, painted many gouaches), and that interested me. I looked for gouache, etc., at my usual art supply vendors and read all the labeIs and any literature.

I will be the first to tell you I am one of those down-to-earth artists who, as a realist, wants to find what’s good and pleasing to me and not necessarily what others may think. I am mindful and respectful of almost all art forms and pay homage to those artists who have been selected by art historians (and the public, too) as the ‘great ones.’ But I am not a purist.

I believe in being pragmatic in most things including my art. For me, that means trying new art mediums and techniques that interest me. It does not necessarily mean doing it the way the experts say you have to. Otherwise, where’s the creativity?

In my research on gouache, I discovered that it’s not much more than painting with opaque watercolor. Instead of being translucent on your support, it’s opaque and usually with a matt finish.

Turns out, it’s also poster paint!

I can almost see eyes rolling from the serious gouache artists who use only the best gouache paints. Please give the rest of us a break, please. Let us try out something new without having to commit to it as our one true artistic calling.
Anyway, I bought the six basic colors available (that just happened to be on sale at my art supply store--always a plus). I won’t tell you the brand name, but they are each in a 4 fluid-ounce bottle. I will tell you they are called ‘tempera paint poster color. ’ I admit I haven’t researched the technical difference among tempera, poster paint, and gouache, if any. The six colors are so basic, they are not even listed on the labels. They simply are blue, yellow, red, green, black, and white.
To give you some idea, the blue is similar to cobalt blue; yellow is similar to cadmium yellow light; red is similar to cadmium red; green is similar to chromium oxide green; black is similar to Payne’s gray; white is similar to titanium white. (They are non-toxic and conform to ASTM standards.)

Talk about back to basics with a limited palette. You can have all the freedom and fun you want by mixing all other colors from these six. It may help to have a color-wheel or mixing chart nearby in case you can’t remember how to mix a burnt umber, but it’s easily do-able.

Today’s Image is the painting I did using only five of the poster paint colors—no red needed in this composition. I rather like it.

If you are successful or not, you will have accomplished at least some of the eight bullets above. I encourage you to try Something New. If not poster paint, then whatever will stimulate your creativity.


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