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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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colours

Monthly review:affordable gouache

I started using gouache in 2004 when my artistic ability (and obsession!) was just developing. I had just started a college summer course and had never heard of it before but it soon became my go-to paint for the next 5 years until i went to university and branched out a little. I loved the versatility of it, the fact that you could use it as you would watercolour (very dilute) or more thickly. Though unlike watercolour it’s opaque. For this reason I find it preferential for pieces where I want vibrant colours. However, this type of paint does dry fast so you’ll need to work fairly quickly, which is why when I’m doing more involved pieces I like to use water-mixable oils (a faster dry time than traditional oils, but not as fast as paints such as gouache and watercolour).

Gouache can be expensive with individual professional tubes costing as much as much as £10. However, there are budget options available. These sets are great for experimenting with and I own both professional and cheaper brands and use them together. A more purse-friendly brand that I’ve found to be quite good is Reeves, not as cheap as paints you’d find in bargain stores, but not as expensive as professional brands, this set is a good in-between, so that’s the brand I’ll be reviewing today.

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Name: Reeves Gouache Artist Colour Tube Set – 24

Price: £9.99-£27

Where to buy:  Hobbycraft, The Range (cheapest so far), Amazon, ebay, many other craft stores/online

Having tried various brands, including professional more expensive ones, I’ve never felt disappointed with Reeves gouache. In fact, I trusted it enough  to use during my time at university alongside these more expensive brands and still use it today. It retains its quality well and doesn’t dry out after months of storage, unlike a much more expensive brand I also regularly use. It still remains smooth, whereas the more expensive brand had become thick and unusable. For students on a tight budget and beginners wanting to just experiment before shelving out for premium brands this is a great option.

These paints can be used on their own, but I find them useful as ‘base colours’ underneath soft pastels. I do this to achieve a ‘softer’ look, but the good thing about gouache is it can also be used for pieces where you want vibrancy. Reeves gouache delivers this and they mix easily with water. The more liquid texture (in comparison to more expensive brands) can be thanked for this. However, the fact that it’s more liquid may suggest that to save costs there are more ingredients such as water and binding agent and less pigment, which is what gives you vibrancy. Gouache is made of pigment, water, and a binding agent such as gum arabic or dextrin. In higher quality paints you’d expect there to be more quality pigment. However, these paints are very workable and once you get the hang of them you can control the intensity of your colour by adding more/less water.

One issue with the Reeves set is actually not specific to this brand, but shared by all gouache paints; the fact that you must be careful when using the paint undiluted/thickly or you risk cracking. One thing lacking with this specific set though is any assurance of permanence, which is something you do get when selecting professional/more expensive paint. Winsor & Newton for example use the system: AA, A, B, C with AA being extremely permanent and C being most likely to fade. If you’re creating a piece of artwork for exhibition it would be best to opt for a brand that gives you an idea of the permanence of your paint and opt for the highest possible. For everyday experiments and general practice though I feel the Reeves set serves a purpose and the quality is good for a mid-range product.

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‘Moving’ Gouache base under soft pastels

 

To see some of my past gouache work, click the icons:

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There is rapture on the lonely shore…

‘There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more’

From ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,

by Lord Byron,

published between 1812-1818

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently brought my focus back to the seascape I began late last year. Having recently signed up to DeviantArt (you can find me here: hmwillustration) I was excited to delve in to their user-contributed galleries, to sift through hundreds of inspiring seascapes by artists from across the globe. Here are my top inspiring pieces. Be sure to check out the links for more of these talented artist’s work and for full-size versions.

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http://hitforsa.deviantart.com/

Artist/photographer Paul has many captivating seascapes in his online gallery, and this is one of my favourite. I love the rich colours in this piece, and how the ‘traditional’ expectation of blues and greens that are associated with the sea have been completely ignored.

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http://bluefooted.deviantart.com/

As soon as I saw this piece it made me feel nostalgic as it reminded me of something I’d see in a storybook as a child. In fact, artist Erin used her favourite book ‘Winter’s Tale’ by Mark Helprin as her inspiration. I love the almost muted tones and the patterns in the sea.

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http://annmariebone.deviantart.com/

Looking at AnnMarie’s gallery I was surprised to learn she works mainly with acrylic as her pieces have a ‘softness’ I often associate with oils. The colours in this piece was what drew me to this, and it’s not just limited to this piece either. In AnnMarie’s gallery you’ll find tons of stirring pieces, I highly recommend checking out her ‘Golden Wave’ painting, which uses colour in a way that may surprise some.

Communicating with colour

‘Colour in a picture is like enthusiasm in life’

– Vincent Van Gogh

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As artists and illustrators will agree, we tend to have our ‘favourites’ – our favourite mediums, our favourite subjects, and in my case a favourite colour palette. Well it’s time for a challenge!

The topic of my current canvas painting is ‘sound through the eyes of autism’, which explores the impact a variety of ‘everyday’ sounds we have become accustomed to whilst living in a busy environment can have on someone on the autistic spectrum. I will be using colour as a mode of communication, to express the intensity of the sounds, as well as positioning clashing colours strategically to covey the sense of discomfort. Whilst being an exercise in the perception of, and relationships between colours, this piece also allows me to practice using colours outside of my comfort zone, to learn the nature of the colours better, which I feel I have with my ‘go-to palette’.

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‘I want to know more, where do i start?’

Of course there’s so much to discover when it comes to colour. Whilst at university I took a module titled ‘Understanding Colour’ which only scratched the surface on this vast topic. If you’re interested in getting serious about colour theory, I recommend reading ‘The Elements of Colour‘ by Itten, the famous expressionist painter linked to the Bauhaus. First published in 1963, it’s an oldie but a goodie! An unusual and interesting read also comes from Sara Fanelli’s ‘Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I am‘, which offers ample visual examples of how colour and a limited pallet can be used to convey a message. The book also includes a colour booklet, and you’ll discover a mass of quotes from famous artists regarding colour. Find it on Amazon here.

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Colour can mean different things to different people and can be used in inventive ways. I found some treasures on Folksy by artists who are embracing the effects colour can have. I recently discovered talented print maker James Green, whose work uses limited colours in each piece to produce a real impact. Here is some of his work, which can be bought in his shop here: James Green Printworks. You can also show your support by liking him on facebook.

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Another shop I recommend checking out is ‘Hush‘, whose owner Sarah Walters has produced a wonderful series of prints based on the seasons. Her notelet pack offers the whole series of designs, meaning there’s no need to choose!

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Coming next week: Monthly tutorial – Accurate drawing for beginners

16/09/2016 – Tutorial now available here: Accurate drawing for beginners

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