Holbein Acryla Gouache

Acryla gouache is something I've dabbled in before, but today I'm putting it to the test! I've really been liking this set that I was given over the holidays, and I'd love to try out more colors. 

 Holbein Acryla Gouache 

Holbein Acryla Gouache 

Acryla gouache is not like regular watercolor - it's actually acrylic paint. The paint behaves like watercolor when wet, but dries down to opaque, matte, permanent color just like acrylics. It works on a ton of different surfaces and even remains opaque on dark surfaces. 

 It's a bit less fluid than watercolors, making them a good choice for someone who doesn't like the unpredictability of watercolor paint, but still wants the watercolor look. 

Unlike watercolor, once the color is dry you cannot lift it off the paper by rewetting it, which I really like, because this prevents colors in different layers from getting muddy. You can easily add shadows and highlights without lifting the color underneath and making a mess. 

One drawback I noticed is that although it claims to be compatible with all wet media, I found that if I layered watercolor over the acryla gouache, the gouache would start to pill and peel off of the paper, especially with the titanium white color. So, I'm a little hesitant to pair it with other wet media.

Overall, I think these paints are excellent! If you're new to watercolor or if you've been frustrated by the fluidity of watercolor in the past, definitely give acryla gouache a chance. At about $30 per set, you can't really go wrong. 

Have you tried them before? Let me know what you think in the comments!  

Vintage Watercolors

I'm in the process of building my own watercolor palette (more on that soon!) and I came across the world of vintage watercolor tins. There's something so beautiful about messy watercolor palettes, and these vintage watercolor sets speak to the longevity of art supplies! Just add water, and these colors work like new. 

Here are some of my favorites that I've found (and added to my never ending wishlist of art supplies). 

Looking at these just makes me want to go thrifting! What are some of your favorite vintage finds? 


Making Marks With Character

I think a real challenge that many people face when they start painting is that feeling of disconnect between their finished painting and the idea they had in their head. I remember in my first few studio classes, I'd be sitting in class for weeks trying to paint a (stupid!) vase of flowers and at the end I always felt like "Wow, this looks so amateur." 

A big game changer is learning how to give your marks character. Looking back on my old paintings from high school, they're all so flat and one dimensional. My paintings really started to evolve when I explored all angles of my tools & brushes to make more interesting marks on the page. 

For instance, look at the simple lines below just using the brush in a one dimensional way: 

I'm working with the brush as if it were just a pen in my hand. I'm applying the same pressure throughout, and holding the brush at the same angle for the entirety of the brush stroke. 

In this next case, I'm trying out different pressure, lifting the brush & pushing it into the page for a more interesting effect. I change the angle, using the sides of the brush, to create thin lines:

This technique is sort of awkward at first, because you're probably not use to moving the brush around in your hand while you use it. But, when you get the hang of it, you can really explore a whole new world of lines! Which is super exciting (I think it is anyway).

Try it out! Experiment with new things and make something new! 



Oil Techniques #2: Favorite Materials

Leah here from LeahDaviesArt.com, sharing some of my favorite materials for oil painting. If you missed it, check out my first post about my favorite oil brushes & mark making techniques. There are a lot materials that can go along with oil painting, and these are just some of my favorites, most of which I have accumulated over the 10+ years I have been painting in oils. If you're just starting out in oil painting - don't hesitate to purchase small sets or even cheapie sets just for practice. I have often found people either love or hate working in oils. 

This list of materials isn't intended to persuade you to go out and purchase all of it, or even the same brands. Simply, just some of the materials I have found to work for me. 

#1 The Paint

I use one brand, and that's M. Graham. I love this paint because it's creamy and mixes well. I find that when I'm blending colors, I usually end up with the intended color, which in my opinion, speaks to the purity of the paint's pigments. It's also made here in the U.S. and is non-toxic - the pigments are mixed with walnut oil. I use a limited palette of colors by choice. And I also don't use black from a tube - I mix it myself with equal parts Burnt Umber & Ultramarine Blue. This gives me a rich and complex black, and by simply changing the ratio, I can create a warm or cool black.

#2 The Mediums

Oils can certainly be used straight out of the tube. But there are many reasons to add mediums to them for different effects. Because in my work as a commissioned artist, I need my oil paintings to dry relatively quickly so I can meet my customer's deadlines. For this, I add M. Graham's Walnut Alkyd Medium, which speeds up the drying time. I often find my layers of paint are dry in 24 hours, which is a huge help, because I can then get to work on the next layer. I also paint with a mixture 1:1 of the Alkyd medium with Turpenoid Natural, which thins the paint for glazing effects. If for some reason I want the paint to dry slowly, I'll add Walnut Oil Medium. And finally, once I have finished a painting, and it has dried for a minimum of a week, I coat the entire painting surface with a varnish. I prefer to use matte or satin finish. 

#3 The Palette Knife

These little tools are super handy. Before the lightbulb went off in my little noggin, I used to mix the paints on my palette with my brushes. This is fine, however, there's often a lot of wasted paint when you do this. The palette knife makes quick, clean work of mixing paints, and if you're laying down a large area of paint, the tool can easily lay down a lot of paint. Also, if I were brave enough, it's possible to paint entire paintings with palette knives. 

#4 The Painting Surface

I don't like canvases. I find the texture distracting for my very fine and detailed work. I prefer working on cradled wood artist panels. When I was a poor little artist, I would buy unfinished cradled boards on the cheap, take them home, sand and gesso and sand and gesso and then sand and gesso some more myself. It was such a task. And, because the boards were cheap, they were usually uneven, not square and had many flaws which took even more of my time to deal with. Sometimes you just have to consider what your time's worth. I now purchase pre-gessoed panels made by Ampersand. Their Gessobord has a lovely & smooth surface with just enough tooth to grab and hold onto your paint. The sides are unfinished, so the only work I put into them is gessoing the sides.

#5 Brush Clean-up & Preservation

Taking care of your brushes, wether you bought low-cost or bank-breaking, is vital. Without proper care, you could be wasting money on your brushes, shortening their longevity. After each painting session I give my brushes a swish in Turpenoid Natural, remove the excess on a paper towel, and then I clean them with water and "The Master's" Brush Cleaner. I then use one of the most brilliant things I have ever discovered: Trekell's Brush Restorer. You know when you buy a new brush, and the tip is a bit stiff to hold it's point? This is that stuff. You gently dip the tip of your brush into the gel and then with your fingers, remove any excess, and twirl to shape the brush into a fine point. Then leave it out to dry. This will ensure that your brushes will last as long as possible, and will retain their shapes. 

I hope I have introduced you to new materials, or even giving you some inspiration or new ideas! Do you have any favorite materials that you use in your work?