I never thought that i will use gouache. This medium comes to me when i was still in poly doing my design studies and i never know what this medium is for.

About 4 years ago, i was very attracted to a kind of pigmented powdery form of painting presentation. The first time when i saw this kind of painting is from a chinese painting book that my husband brought back from China. It totally caught me. I seldom see this kind of chinese painting locally and in China, they call it 工笔画。

Here is an example of gouache painting i snapshot from that book:


Very beautiful graphical drawing isn’t it? Another time i saw it is in a traditional chinese restaurant where they display A5 size 18 buddha drawings, all drawn on rice paper and beautifully framed up.

So here is my first trial on using gouache. In the picture below, i’m testing out on my usual recycled paper i used for my watercolor paintings. The overall result from the first mix is on the left, too poster like and not what i want. The recycled paper doesn’t seems to be able to absorb gouache well enough. But on the 2nd mix with white color, it seems to stay on the paper better. There’s slightly more water in there too.


For the next trial, i painted gouache on a rice paper. This kind of rice paper is thin, meant for chinese calligraphy and chinese watercolor ink painting. The quick absorbency of the ink into the rice paper presents the paint better than on recycled paper. It gives a beautifully spread of pastel across the painted area and i just feel that gouache is meant for rice paper 🙂


This is another side of the rice paper where i tried out mountains. Yet, i feel this paper is way too thin for holding a heavier gouache than normal wash painting. So i feel i should seek out thicker rice paper for this medium.


Not wanting to give up using recycled paper for the gouache, i thought… maybe my first mix is not so well prepared. So i tried again on recycled paper. Well, i think it’s thickness does support gouache medium but the chalky look im looking for just seem to appear better on rice paper. Right here, it looks chalky as well, pigment is well spread after only a 2nd layer but it looks more poster like than a painting. That’s not the kind of finish i’m going for.


So i thought, find a thicker rice paper and here’s a sample of the trial after i got one. This paper fairs much better than the first rice paper. It’s meant for 工笔画 and is able to support slightly heavier medium like gouache. Here in this sample, we can see how gouache can act as a wash on the back like watercolor and be graphical on the front. It is a very versatile medium.


And finally, i tried out the kale again on this thicker rice paper. How awesome the outcome is absorbing the paint in and spreading out the pastel effect perfectly. It just produces the kind of tone and effect i’ve been looking out for!! A drawback is, a 2nd layer does bring out some rice paper so i feel i’ve to try out on another brand of gouache now.


Very happy to arrive this stage. If my acrylic paint on these kale isn’t giving me troubles, i wouldn’t have ventured out on this journey on gouache and rice papers 🙂

More to come!