03
May
09

Rhymes With Squash

I love gouache. Gouache, gouache, gouache. I love to say it. Gouache. It rhymes with “squash”. Or you can say, “Go wash”. Gouache. 

It is a type of paint. It is also called opaque watercolor. It is also sometimes called bodycolor, but sometimes bodycolor means a different type of opaque watercolor. Sometimes it is mistakenly called tempera, but it isn’t tempera. It is gouache.

It is more fun to say “gouache” than any other nameofapaint. It is more difficult to read the spelling of gouache than any other nameofapaint. “Casein” is another difficult to read nameofapaint.

I made up the word, “nameofapaint”. Copyright 2009 David Scott Smith.

Wikipedia says, “Gouache (rhymes with “squash”), the name of which derives from the Italian guazzo, “water paint, splash” or bodycolor (the term preferred by art historians) is a type of paint consisting of pigment suspended in water. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. Like all watermedia, it is diluted with water.[1] (Gum Arabic is also present as a binding agent just like in water color.) This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.”

Wikipedia should always be pronounced, “wi-KEE-pedia”, and never, “wi-KUH-pedia”. Or I will slug you.

Gouache comes in tubes, like little toothpaste tubes. But don’t brush your teeth with it because it is the opposite of toothpaste, as it will filthy up your teeth and not whiten them, unless you use white gouache. And  not even the white type tastes like peppermint (This I know from experience. Never get so drunk as to brush your teeth at your easel.) It comes out of the tube in a similar consistency to toothpaste (see warning above).

You mix water with just out-of-the-tube gouache to make it the correct consistency for painting. Don’t mix in too much or too little water, or you will ruin your painting forever. I am not kidding. This is not some sissy’s paint! You want to paint from a hammock and sip an umbrella-fruity-drink while someone fans you with a palm frond? Then tiptoe to Michael’s and buy some liquitex, you milksop. And you, put down those colored pencils and learn to paint with a brush like an adult.

Gouache contains a very high concentration of pigment, which makes its color very vibrant. This is why art school students are forced to use gouache in color theory class. Art school students usually get frustrated trying to get good results with gouache, and end up hating it.This is because they try to paint with it as if it were oil or acrylic. Gouache is not oil. It rhymes with “squash”, not “mohel”.  You have to use a methodical technique if you want to get flat, even coverage when painting with gouache. Start at one end and paint toward the other, without going back over where you have already painted. If you paint back over semi-wet painted areas you will leave blotchy spots. And like I said before, learn to mix in exactly the exact perfect exact amount of water, or die a fiery art death.

Gouache is delicate. When dry, it can easily get scratched. A gouache painting can discolor if it gets wet. You should not roll a gouache painting like you may with an oil or acrylic painting on canvas, because gouache is brittle and will flake off .

Gouache is usually painted on paper or paper based board. It will not adhere well to canvas or other non-porous materials.

This gouache sounds horrible, you say? What in the world is so good about it, other than its name? Alright, I’ll tell you if you promise to stop texting for just one single minute and pay attention to me for a change. 

Gouache is opaque. That means it is the opposite of transparent. This is why gouache is also known as opaque watercolor, as opposed to transparent watercolor, which is actually translucent, not transparent, but you get the idea. When applied a certain way, most colors of gouache lay down on the paper in a very thick, rich, opaque kinda way, with a velvety chalky kinda matte finish, not in the least bit shiny. This matte quality makes it superior to oils and acrylics for reproduction. A camera or scanner won’t have to deal with shiny reflection spots on a gouache painting. 

As I said before, the color you get from gouache is amazing and beautiful. So rich and vibrant. Deep blacks, bright oranges, dazzling flaring up in your face yellows! ZZZZZZZing

Gouache flows, just fuh-lowzzzz off the brush. Touch the brush to the paper and see the mark appear there. Now move the brush and the paint just pools perfectly where you direct it. Use a pointy brush and gouache is your line-making love slave. Long luxurious loveslave lines. Perfectly opaque. Vary the width by varying pressure on the brush. Lonnnnnnng lines. Try that with acrylic and you get short gooey lumpy goo lumps of varying goopacity. 

I love it. Love gouache. Love it. That is why I decided to use gouache when making my comic strip, Space Base 8. Historically, most comic strips have been done in ink. More recently, webcomics are often done digitally. I decided to use gouache because I love it and I wanted to use it every day.

Then I changed my mind.

But that is a different story for a different post.

Now gouache your hands, there’s paint on them and you’ll get it all over the couch.


5 Responses to “Rhymes With Squash”


  1. 1 danineteen
    May 3, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    That was so entertaining.
    “Gowash” 😛

    I wish I was a painter. You’ve made using gouache sound so fun 😀

  2. May 3, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    And this is why your comic will be a hilarious comic success.


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