Gouache Wash

I have a tough time with gouache washes. Large, smooth areas of color elude me. I am learning slowly, and painfully, what works best. I have, for a while, suspected that washes work best on fast-absorbing surfaces – so I did an experiment. The contestants: Gessobord and Sennelier Hot-press watercolor paper. Both are smooth and have about the same surface area.

I mixed up a wash of Horadam (good stuff) raw umber and used a middle-of-the-line Blick #14 round wash brush.

Gessobord first. I slopped some paint on it. It does not absorb anything quickly – it does absorb, but takes its own sweet time. Note the puddling.

I covered the board… in bubbles. I didn’t mean to, it just always does that.

The evil bubbles:

Next up: the Sennelier. I slopped some paint on it. No puddling, no bubbles.

I covered the paper. Sorry about the glare. No puddling, no bubbles. Hmm.

After they dried a bit, I gave them both a second coat. This helped smooth the wash on both surfaces, but little bits of stuff are still visible on the Gessobord. Some are bubbles, but most of it is dust and hair.

The culprits:

It perplexes me that the Gessobord holds onto these bits o’ crap. The paper had a few, but I got rid of them with a few strokes of the brush. On the Gessobord, if I scrub hard enough to get rid of them, I’m back to white board in that area.

I can’t have a wash full of dust and hair, nor can I have white streaks all over. Until I figure out how to get the Gessobord to work with me and release its hold on the bits and bubbles, I’ll have to stay away from washes. At least I can wipe the slate clean with water:

Here is the result of rubbing a damp paper towel over both surfaces. Each had dried for a while, but I did dump a bit of water on the Gessobord (see above). The difference is obvious; the Gessobord hadn’t absorbed much of anything – it nearly returned to white. And this is a staining pigment!

Lesson: Meg needs help with gouache washes on Gessobord. I have a ton of this stuff to use. Also, if you can’t paint in a dust-free, fur-free environment… how do you avoid the bits o’ crap?

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