Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Going Dark with Gouache - By Barbara DiLorenzo

Artists evolve their style. It's what we all do. We may intend to change the medium or application of paint. Or it may just happen organically, in ways we don't even notice until there is a body of work that looks slightly different than before. 

Last year I worked on two books, painted in watercolor with gouache touch-ups (RENATO AND THE LION (Viking Children's Books), and QUINCY: THE CHAMELEON WHO COULDN'T BLEND IN, little bee books). Normally, I don't use gouache much. But in the case of final art under deadline, I needed gouache to save me from having to redo pieces at the last minute. For those unfamiliar with gouache paint, it is a cousin to watercolor, but opaque and matte in final appearance. One can cover mistakes with this paint. It's not as bold as acrylic. Some genius invented acrylic-gouache, which behaves like a watercolor but then has the permanence/coverage of acrylic. But I can't figure out how to work with it. So gouache is the next best thing. 

The book experience emboldened me. I realized that I can push my watercolors darker, and bring them back with the opaque paint of gouache. I didn't realize how much this impacted my work until I recently completed three pieces for various projects. (Examples below–including a piece I showed preliminary sketches of in my previous blog post.)

While I'm not sure I have the color palettes down, there is something about the deeper range of values that I like. I've been boldly painting dark washes over the whole paper, then pulling out highlights afterwards. The one obstacle right now is using white gouache to mix with other colors in my palette. Perhaps I'll get a better effect from buying the specific gouache oranges, blues and greens. If anyone has gouache expertise, I'd love to know how you use them. 

As an artist, it is our job to embrace that inner tug to explore a new direction. We may not be entirely pleased with the outcome right away. But with time and practice, and a bit of bravery, we may find a whole new visual voice that outshines the previous portfolio. 

Challenge yourself to try something new until it works. That's what I plan to do with this new direction. Stay tuned to see where it goes!

RENATO AND THE LION (Viking Children's Books)
by Barbara DiLorenzo
Now booking author visits for 2017-2018!

by Barbara DiLorenzo
To be released on April 3, 2018!

Barbara is represented by Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency.
Twitter: @wavepaint
Facebook: @BarbaraWillcoxDiLorenzo


  1. Beautiful! The touches of white gouache really bring spark to the art.

  2. Fantastic post, Barbara. Changing it up from time to time can be scary, but so worth it in the end!

  3. I love the look, Barbara, and honestly, to me, anything that makes the work easier/faster and gives you the results you prefer---I'm ALL for it! I never heard of acrylic-gouache either. VERY interesting! I'm not an expert with gouache so can't help you out there :-\ , but I'm a bit of a fan of the Bleedproof White: :)