Woolly Watercolor Canvas


Woolly Mollusk by Meg Lyman

8×10″ gouache on pure evil watercolor canvas panel


So I exaggerate a little, but painting on watercolor canvas is completely counterintuitive to me, and I have the nagging feeling that I’m doing it wrong. I typically use gouache in a very watercolor-y way, at least on the underpainting. I naively assumed, since this was marketed as watercolor canvas, that it would accept watercolor. Watered down gouache is very much like watercolor, and it behaves the same way on paper. When I went to paint the shadows in watery purple, the mixture beaded up on the surface maddeningly. If I let it dry that way, I’d have ended up with blobs of color on a sea of white plastic nothing. I had to wipe it all off, leaving only a hint of stain, and let it dry before trying again.

The key to having any sort of success with gouache on watercolor canvas is to lay it on thick, nearly straight from the tube, and you’d better not have the gall to want to rework anything without it lifting right off. I have no idea how watercolorists are supposed to use it. As you can see in the final product, the weave of the canvas shows through – texture is cool – but it also creates tiny white dots that wouldn’t take free paint from a politician. And you use a lot more paint to achieve results that may or may not last until you touch it with your finger on accident while confiscating it from the cat.

On the plus side, I had fun painting magenta mountains. So there’s that.

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