Gouache masks

Following on from a discussion on EDM about this, I mentioned that I’d try to post some examples.  The technique involves using gouache as a mask, then painting Indian ink over the top when it’s dry.  When the ink is dry too, wash it under the tap so that the gouache dissolves.  It was something I stumbled across in about 1997 – I can’t quite remember how!

Anyway – at one point I was trying to use it to express sunlight coming through trees but I was never really happy with the results.  Here were the experiments:

Trees 2

Trees 2

Tree 3

Tree 3

These were the experiments using some coloured gouache as a mask, but you can see the colours all come out quite bright.  Above I had used a very dark green at the bottom, but it left and very bluey stain so it just wasn’t happening properly for me.

Since I wasn’t getting the effect I wanted I gave up and went back to white gouache.  Here’s one that appeared at the Cats Protection exhibition…



…along with a couple of these and these and more. 🙂

If anyone does decide to try it as a technique, please do let me know – I’d love to see other people’s interpretations!

Ohh!  One important point.  I said on EDM that I had used normal cartridge paper, but as soon as I dug them out this morning it was obvious that I hadn’t.  The paper I found best was actually some very cheap “watercolour paper” that was slightly less absorbent than cartridge paper but not much (hence the quotes).  Whisky above was done on quick thick watercolour paper but you tend to find that more of the ink floats off in the rinsing so you get a slightly different effect and a whiter background.  I had lots of fun playing about with it anyway.


~ by Rachel on January 13, 2009.

4 Responses to “Gouache masks”

  1. These are very interesting. They have a quality all of their own.
    I will have to get out some gouache and have a try. Your cat portraits are wonderful

  2. Gosh, Rachel, these are just stunning. Love Whisky.

  3. Beautiful images. This is such an awesome technique, I did a lot of these back in art school, and I love it. I like how it´s not quite controllable all the way, the colours always end up a little weird and you get some ink where you didn´t want it, but the images always turned out good anyway (or maybe just because of those mistakes, I don´t know). I´m going to have to try one of these again soon…

  4. Stunning images and a great technique. If i get round to trying this i’ll let you know…

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