Personal: Experiments in color

Let me state right here: I’m not a painter.

I am, however, a lover of color, one who likes knowing how things work and someone who’s at her personal best when hands are kept busy. So, a few weeks back I mentioned that I felt drawn to painting. I was encouraged to experiment with Gouache paint – an opaque water color. There are some advantages to this: it’s acrylic based, so cleans up with soap and water and it is relatively inexpensive when you stick to the “beginners / students” label found at A.C. Moore. With zero formal training and few brushes in my arsenal I am unable to create anything representational, so instead I focused on experimenting with color mixing and medium additives, which can give paint body. And this is what I did on two scrap canvases I acquired years ago on the off chance I ever learned to paint.

I have to admit to being slightly embarrassed by my attempts. At first. My best friend is actually an accomplished painter who, unlike me, can paint things to look like they do in real life. Also, I feel like anytime something looks remotely “abstract” it flirts with being a little pretentious. The more I reflected on my feelings of embarrassment I realized that it’s counterproductive to the creative process, one that needs nurturing – the exact purpose of this exercise. So, self-judging is good, but must be contained.

Now, my thoughts on Gouache as a medium: It has a very quick dry time, but can easily be reactivated with water. Its opacity allows for light over dark. Layers, however, can not be isolated. Since it is water-based it is vulnerable to water, meaning you either have to varnish a finished piece or place it behind glass. I opted for varnish. I used Winsor & Newton Artisan Gloss Varnish with a flat wash brush. Although the varnish returned some vibrancy to the color, the brush dragged some of the color off around the edges. For future projects, I would recommend a spray water based varnish. I was not in love with the colors drying muted and darker than when wet. For that, I don’t think Gouache is THE medium for me, but it is still fun to play with.

Also, the canvas on the right utilized Liquitex Gloss Gel Medium. While the gloss gel combined with the varnish was a bit more shine than I wanted, the body it gave the paint felt nice. It also slowed down the drying time. Next project will likely be regular acrylics.

My newly-appointed God daughter visited recently. Isn’t she ADORABLE….and I’m excited that we’ll be repaying the visit with our own to Boston in November.

Anyway, stay on the look out for Ali & Dave’s engagement session. Wednesday is the Florence & the Machine concert (on my birthday – which happens to also be International Talk Like A Pirate Day) And Chris & Linh’s wedding is next weekend! Can’t wait.