Gouache technique

This week’s blog – a tutorial in painting with gouache – comes from Claire Ward, and originally appeared on her own blog in 2011. A stunning example of her own work in gouache appears on her current blogpost at Many thanks, Claire, for sharing this with us.


Hippeastrum bud in gouache


I had a request from a friend to explain my technique in gouache painting; so heres a tutorial showing my method.


I have Schminke artists quality, Winsor and Newton designers and a couple of old Daler Rowney goauche paints. The Schminkes and W/N’s are good quality with no white added and so are not chalky and can stay on the palette.The Dalers are chalky with white and fillers added; they form a hard lump on the palette and fall off – but I still have them – they’re OK to mix – some I don’t use.

I have Schminke PY3 Lemon Yellow
Schminke  PY119 & PBk 9 Raw Sienna
Schminke Burnt Sienna
Schminke PR101 English Red
Schminke PV19 Quinacridone Violet
Schminke PB27 Prussian Blue
Schminke PB29 Ultramarine
Schminke PB16 Helio Turquoise
Schminke PG36 & PO62 Sap Green
W/N PY35 & PO20 Cadmium Yellow
W/N PV23 Winsor Violet
W/N PR108 Cadmium Scarlet
W/N PR254 Winsor Red
W/N PR122 Quin. Magenta
DR Yellow Ochre
DR Burnt Sienna
DR Coeruleum Hue

I have mostly chosen paints with the same pigments as lightfast, transparent watercolours and are marked on the tubes as permanent; there are many fugitive gouache paints – and I stay away from those – like rose tyrian, spectrum violet and alizarin.


Heres the arranged palette – with the W/N white (PW6 – titanium white) and W/N ivory black top left. The white is added to lighten the hues and create highlights and the black (and other dark colours) are used to darken the tones. It is more difficult to get the right hues with the red and yellow paints. I use synthetic brushes around size 2 to 4 – or old sables that I no longer use for ordinary watercolours.

First of all I draw the chosen subject – an Anemone japonica ‘Honorine Jobert’, onto green mount card – you can use any colour card but it must be smooth.

tut 1

The drawing shows up in white pencil; then start adding layers of white and tinted grey paint.

tut 2tut 3Just keep going – layering the paint and blending in.

tut 4tut 5Then after adding shadows and highlights – start adding details – the best bit for me!

tut 7

Here’s the almost finished painting (you can keep fiddling!) shown with the original flower- it took approx. four-and-a-half hours to do this much.

tut 8

Heres a link to the Handprint website for a really in depth read up on gouache;

I hope this helps and inspires.  xx

Do have a look at Claire’s blog and her website to see lots more of her beautiful work.