Most of my design work is done on the computer, however sometimes I sit down to draw and nada, nothing. I just can't get inspired. No matter how much research I have done and beautiful mood boards I have to reference, my brain just puts up a block. Possibly because I spend so much time in front of a screen, my brain craves something a bit different from the norm and the only way I have found to kick start my motivation is by going back to good old fashioned mark making on paper. There is something so tactile about holding your favourite drawing implement and making a mark on a pristine piece of paper.
Last year I picked up a paintbrush for the first time and after much experimenting I discovered a love for Acryla Gouache. Unlike traditional gouache, which is an opaque, matte watercolour pigment, Acryla Gouache has characteristics of both acrylic paints and gouache. Like gouache, this opaque pigment has a gorgeous matte finish when dry, even though you can mix water with it to dilute your coverage, once dry it becomes water resistant so that multiple layers can be painted on top of each other without any streaking. It tends to dry very quickly which is fantastic if you work in layers and also VERY liberating. No more, quite literally, watching paint dry!
After a year of working periodically with this medium, I have learnt a few hints and tips to share with you. Whilst I am not a traditional painter, I hope these will help you in your own paintings.
1. Surfaces to paint on
Acryla Gouache is one of those amazing mediums which will adhere to most surfaces due to the inherent binding properties of acrylic. You can have lots of fun experimenting with different surfaces to create distinct and fun textures. It can be used in mixed media projects, including on wood, fabric or even glass. Some artists mix it with modelling paste or a pouring medium for an avant-garde finish.
After experimenting with many different types of paper, I have found that hot-press watercolour paper and a pre-prepared canvas work best to create the effects I desire. The surfaces don't absorb too much of the paint and allow me to layer accordingly to create different textures. They also don't buckle or warp easily which I find useful if I dilute the pigment with water, which some thinner papers tend to do.
2. Choosing colours
My experience when working with Acryla Gouache is that the colours don't tend to change too much from wet to dry, so if you feel like you've mixed the perfect colour, it will look like that or similar when dry. It is however best to use a test piece of paper to try colours out as sometimes darks will lighten during to drying process and lights can darken. It's also important to remember that any colour will react to a previous layer of colour if it isn't completely dry.
3.Be careful of the white you choose
I've been caught out by this a few times especially when buying larger tubes of white. I tend to stock up on these as I often work with lighter shades in my designs, so invariably use a lot of white to mix colours. The white that comes with a set of paints will usually be thicker and more consistent with the other pigments in your palette. Larger tubes are often 'mixer whites' and this can come out thinner, therefore not giving the same coverage as your traditional white. Whilst they still dry opaque you may notice a difference depending on the effect you are after, so it's good to be aware when purchasing. It may also be wise to remember that mixing different brands won't give a consistent look to your artwork. Cheaper brands often use less true pigment and more fillers in the paint. Cheaper is rarely better when choosing art supplies.
4. Drying time
Whilst I love that Acryla Gouache has a really quick drying time because I often use layers in my artwork, it can be a little annoying for the paint on your palette. You can loosen the pigment by adding water while it is still wet however once dry you can't reactivate the paint. It can also be quite difficult to remove from your palette if it has hardened a lot. The same can be said for your paintbrushes. This is not a medium you want to leave on them for any extended period of time.
When mixing colours I tend to use tiny amounts of pigment as a little goes a long way in terms of getting the correct colour. Some colours such as Burnt Sienna can be quite dominant when creating the right colour so less is definitely more.
Starting to experiment with a new medium can cause a tumult of emotions. Allowing yourself time and patience with yourself to get comfortable with the medium really is the key to starting most projects. Everyone makes mistakes and that's ok. Not every piece of art you create will be Instagram worthy, but each piece of art will teach you something and act as a learning curve to your next one which eventually will lead you to creating great works of art. I have thrown away many more 'unsuccessful' pieces than I have kept 'successful' ones. Learning how the medium works for you through practice and play will give you many hours of joy. Most importantly though, you should enjoy the process. Some people commit to a daily practice, but you should work with your own energies. Trusting your own energies and tapping into your creativity when you feel like it will often be more beneficial than forcing yourself to create when you just aren't in the mood.
Finally, don't be afraid to create bad art. Often people procrastinate and don't start something because they are afraid it won't be as good as someone they admire. Listen to your instincts and do what feels natural to you. If something doesn't work out at least you tried. Whereas if you never try you will never know what you're missing out on.
I hope these hints and tips have helped you in your painting journey. Enjoy!