What is Gouache?

“Randy Pijoan combines the beauty of Gouache with an unusual underpainting process to create urban nightscapes that burn with intensity” Tom Zeit – Artist Magazine

what is gouache



I get asked frequently, “So what is gouache?”

Gouache, is a type of watercolor medium, consisting of opaque pigments rather than transparent dyes or true watercolor. In gouache the pigments are bound together with glue or mixed with white pigment our Gum Arabic. Although gouache lacks the genuine luminosity of traditional watercolor it is more substantial and has a texture approaching oil paint. In addition, the tendency of gouache colors lighten with drying makes possible a wide range of pearly or chalk-like effects.

Gouache is one of the oldest mediums known to Western art, first used by the ancient Egyptians who used honey to bind their pigments. It was widely used in the Middle Ages for illuminating manuscripts and became particularly popular in the painting of Secco Fresco during the late Renaissance. Gouache has been used by many artists in the 20th Century who find its thick impasto qualities ideal for contemporary studies and commercial art as well as impressionistic techniques.

I personally find it ideal for capturing the effects of light and temperature, elements quite important in my particular images, which range from intense heat of the Southwest landscapes to the cool evenings of my city nightscapes. It enables me to control those color effects better, and I can use varnish over it, thus eliminating the need for my images to be framed under glass.