Gouache (gwash – rhymes with squash), also referred to as opaque watercolor, is paint that is heavier/thicker than traditional transparent watercolors. Its use is centuries old. From the Italian “guazzo”, meaning “water paint”, it appears to go back some 800 years, used originally to illuminate manuscripts. Nineteenth Century European landscape painters used it as an outdoor sketching medium, and it was used extensively during the golden age of magazine illustration because of its fast-drying characteristics. It continues to be used today by artists and designers in the film industry.
It was used only rarely for finished landscape paintings, and declined in popularity for many years, but in recent years there has been a resurgence in interest in it as a fine art medium. Very few painters paint landscapes exclusively in gouache today. That, combined with the distinctive technique that I’ve developed, makes these paintings unique.
I often varnish my finished gouache paintings, which restores the brilliance of the original color, and allows the painting to be placed directly into a frame, eliminating the need for a mat and glass.