Technique Tuesday: Gouache

What is it?

Happy Tuesday! This week we are talking about a type of paint that doesn’t often get a lot of attention– gouache! Pronounced “gwosh,” this type of paint is an opaque, water-soluble medium that has some of the qualities of both watercolor and oil, and in the case of acrylic gouache, even acrylic! The name is a French word derived from “gouazz,” which is an old Italian term meaning “mud.” Although it was not referred to as “gouache” until the 18th century, gouache paints originated long ago, as a derivative of watercolors. In order to make watercolors more opaque and therefore easier to layer and use as a highlight, they were mixed with an opaque white pigment.

Examples from art history:

Opaque watermedia is a very old medium, and can be seen in examples as early as 9th century Persian miniatures. (Later, Italian artists would attempt to achieve the same look by layering oil paints over tempera paints, giving it a matte (or “muddy”) finish.) In the 18th century, as it became more popular, French artists mainly used gouache to add highlights over their pastel work, but the use has expanded over time and many artists today paint entire artworks in gouache. It is a unique medium in that, though water-soluble like watercolors, it gives the artist an option to layer light colors over dark because of the matte opacity. An artist must use gouache very carefully to avoid a very flat and muddy effect, but those who have mastered the medium have created some incredible works with it! Modern gouache options now include acrylic gouache, which, because it is made with an acrylic-based binder, dries to a more water-resistant surface despite the water solubility of the wet medium. Let’s take a look at some examples of paintings either partially or fully created with gouache throughout history!

(left to right) Behzad, “Advice of the Ascetic”; Albrecht Durer, “Young Hare”; Thomas Moran, “Above Tower Falls, Yellowstone”; Fidelia Bridges, “Leaves”; Henri Matisse, “Black Leaf on Green Background”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Gouache is not something we often get here at Principle Gallery, but just recently we’ve gotten a few pieces created with watermedia, including gouache! Here are a couple of examples from Mark Kelvin Horton, who recently sent us a great series of small landscapes on paper, in a variety of media. Here are two that use gouache!

Mark Kelvin Horton, “Winter Trees”


Mark Kelvin Horton, “Rural”

Ben Barker is another artist that we work with who enjoys the challenge of using gouache from time to time! Though all of the other artworks from Ben that we’ve shown so far have been in oil, here’s a very cool landscape of Rock Creek Park, painted in gouache!

Ben Barker, “Boulder Bridge”

We are always getting in new works from our widely varied roster of artists, so be sure you’re on our e-mailing list if you’d like to get a first-peek at new art when it arrives! To be added to the mailing list, just shoot us an email at!


by Pamela Sommer


Technique Tuesday: Glazing

What is it?

The term “glazing” when applied to paint refers to the play of colors and luminosity built up through applying thin, transparent layers of paint over an opaque layer of a different color. This is done with the use of a suitable type of paint (not all paint colors can be easily manipulated to glaze with, but anything with “lake” in the paint name is a good bet!) and the addition of a glazing medium to thin the paint and help with transparency. It’s a simple concept, the idea of a transparent overlay of color over an opaque layer, but it takes a lot of practice and care to ensure that the right effect comes across in actual practice of the technique. If an artist can get it right, however, it adds a gorgeous depth and sense of the movement of light within the colors of a painting. We often see this effect of transparent color overlay in real life by observing light through a colored glass, like a stained glass window or the “rose colored glasses” of the old familiar idiom– it has a lovely resulting depth and brilliance!

Examples from art history:

Glazing used to be used sometimes out of necessity in addition to being used for its visually appealing effect. For instance, back when many artists did not have access to certain brilliant colors of paint pigment– often strong greens, purples, and oranges– they achieved the color by glazing one color over another so as to optically, rather than physically, blend them. Many artists throughout history (as well as many currently practicing artists) also apply these thin glazes of color over a base that is entirely painted in grays (called “grisaille”) or browns (called “bistre”) so as to add a depth unachievable from applying opaque layers of paint alone.

Johannes Vermeer’s exquisite paintings contain many classic examples of glazing. See here below, on the left the reconstruction of Vermeer’s “Girl With a Red Hat” shows some of the initial layers that would have been painted, upon which Vermeer would then apply transparent glazes to deepen and darken to his liking. You can observe the brilliance in hues and the effect of light pouring through that this creates on the finished work, also shown just to the right. Also shown here is a detail from another painting, “The Milkmaid,” in which Vermeer’s technique of glazing a transparent yellow layer over the blue layer underneath creates a unique green effect in the middle area of the fabric of the milkmaid’s sleeves:

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Two years ago, we discussed the 2015 Kevin Fitzgerald Solo Exhibition in a Technique Tuesday post when we addressed another type of layering effect in paint, known as “scumbling” or “dry brush.” Basically, this indicates that the top layer of paint is an opaque layer, and not a transparent, thinned layer as with glazing, which creates a different affect, more hazy and blurred and well-suited to Kevin’s frequent depictions of clouds, treelines, and ocean waves. To read more about it, check out the older post, here!

But the glazing technique is also highly prevalent in Kevin’s work, and is one of many ways that Kevin achieves the amazing effects of light, depth, and atmosphere in his peaceful, hazy landscapes. Take a look at each of the images below and try to pinpoint areas where Kevin applied transparent layers to add depth, color shifts, and luminosity (as well as those opaque, “scumbled” areas!)! And to take a look at the whole exhibition in person, stop by the gallery or visit Kevin’s page on our website here!

“Ocean Joy”

“Inlet Daybreak”

“October Light”

“Ocean Dawn”

Technique Tuesdays: Dry Brush

Technique Tuesday dry brushWhat is it?

Today’s featured technique is the dry brush technique. Like last week’s technique, the multi-loaded brush, this technique deals with the way that the artist loads their brush before applying it to the canvas. With the dry brush technique, rather than using a brush moistened with oil or water (depending on the type of paint) and an ample amount of paint to get a nice smooth brushstroke, an artist will instead use a mostly dry brush and a smaller amount of paint. This way, when the brushstroke is made, it has a more scratchy, textured, and wispy appearance. This is a technique that is used in both water-based painting (watercolor, egg tempera, acrylic) and oil-based painting.

Examples from art history:

One of the most beautiful and iconic uses of the dry brush technique can be found in ancient Chinese art. Chinese brush painting involves a brush dipped into black or colored inks, and dates very far back. It was during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), however, that Chinese brush painting reached a new level of sophistication and began to incorporate techniques like dry brush painting. The lighter, softer, and more blurred effect produced by using a dry brush allowed for a range of atmospheric effects. The images below are examples from this dynasty:

(left) Fan Kuan “Travelers Among Mountains and Streams”, 11th c.; (right) Chen Rong detail from “The Nine Dragons”, 13th c.


During later periods of art history, artists also began to use the dry brush technique in a way that is referred to as “scumbling.” Though many use “dry brushing” and “scumbling” interchangeably, the distinguishing aspect of scumbling is that it is used in the layering process of paint. (So, while dry brushing might sometimes involve the paper showing through, scumbling in particular allows the other layers of paint to show through.) One of the great Masters of the Baroque period (17th and 18th centuries), Rembrandt van Rijn was perhaps one of the most famous artists to make use of scumbling technique, as he used it to achieve unique and extraordinary lighting effects. The image below shows the technique as used by Rembrandt, as well as an example from over two centuries later, in a painting by Edouard Manet:

(left) detail of self portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1661; (right) Edouard Manet, "Emilie Ambre as Carmen", 1880

(left) detail of self portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1661; (right) Edouard Manet, “Emilie Ambre as Carmen”, 1880

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Artists today still use the dry brush technique in a variety of ways to achieve the effect of lighting, texture, and atmosphere they desire. One Principle Gallery artist who makes frequent and beautiful use of the dry brush/scumbling technique is landscape painter Kevin Fitzgerald. Kevin utilizes this technique in many ways: to give a blurred softness to the edges of the fields of color in a piece, to give the wispy impression of clouds, to add an interesting texture, to loosely blend layers of colors, and to give a misty, peaceful atmosphere to the work–just to name a few! “Indian River Morning,” one of the pieces included in Kevin’s upcoming solo exhibition (opening March 20th!) is an excellent example of this technique:

Kevin Fitzgerald, "Indian River Morning"

Kevin Fitzgerald, “Indian River Morning”

Enjoy these additional beautiful examples of Kevin’s use of the dry brush technique below (or click here to see all of his available work on our website), and be sure to keep an eye out for many new works to arrive soon for his solo exhibition!

Blue Pond Clouds 72

Kevin Fitzgerald, “Blue Pond Clouds”

Chincoteague Dawn 72

Kevin Fitzgerald, “Chincoteague Dawn”

Kevin Fitzgerald, “Boca Dawn”


Technique Tuesdays: The Multi-Loaded Brush

Technique Tuesday multi loaded brush

What is it?

Most everyone would probably be able to guess what exactly is meant by the phrase  “loading the brush” as it relates to painting–you dip the paintbrush in the paint! It’s pretty simple. There are all sorts of ways, however, that artists adjust the way that they load their paintbrush in order to achieve the effect they desire. An artist might adjust the amount of paint they apply to the brush, the wetness of the brush, the consistency of the paint, etc. Today we’re going to take a look at a fun and simple technique with an awesome effect: the multi-loaded brush. Essentially, this refers to the technique of dipping the paintbrush in more than one color of paint, so that multiple colors appear together and blend when the brushstroke is made. Here’s a pretty clear visual example of a double-loaded brush, courtesy of the website wikiHow:


Examples from art history:

This technique was one that was frequently used for several centuries as a method of decorative painting. When painting a design onto furniture, ceramics, or other small decorative objects, the method of using a double-loaded brush, sometimes referred to as “one stroke painting,” was often employed as a simple way to give a bit of highlight and definition to the simply painted shapes and forms. (See a video example of the method by clicking here.) The double-loaded brush effect became especially characteristic of  “rosemaling,” which is the Norwegian term for decorative art and a word that has become associated with the beautiful folk art style that evolved in Norway. Here’s a good example of rosemaling painting on a bowl:


In fine art painting, however, visible strokes of a multi-loaded brush were not commonly seen until the late 18th century, when the Post-Impressionist movements began to celebrate a looser, more expressive manner of painting. As brushstrokes became less exact and precise and more free-flowing, many artists used a double-loaded or multi-loaded paintbrush (meaning even more than two colors on the brush at once) to achieve a fresh and interesting effect to the look of their brushstrokes. It was a way to blend colors without doing so too seamlessly, and it gave an attractive an multi-dimensional appearance to certain areas of the work. Unlike with the more precise style of decorative painting, the artists did not always use a neatly divided and even distribution of paint across the tip of the brush, but rather added the colors with a bit more freedom and looseness. Here are a few examples from the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century of fine art paintings that include some visible strokes of a multi-loaded brush. (You can click on the image to see it a bit larger.)


(from left to right) crops of Marc Chagall’s “Bonjour Paris,” Henri Matisse’s “Portrait of Madame Matisse (Green Stripe),” and Edvard Munch’s “Love and Pain”


Examples from Principle Gallery:

There’s something free, interesting-looking, and vibrant about the effect of a multi-loaded brush. Colors appear blended, but not too perfectly blended, and it’s very visually appealing. Typically, artists whose work is very realistic looking (for instance, Larry Preston, Jorge Alberto, Cindy Procious, and many others) will carefully and precisely blend the colors and brushstrokes in a painting to give a sharper and more true-to-life appearance to the finished work, rather than leaving visible brushstrokes from a multi-loaded brush. But there are also many artists at Principle Gallery whose brush work is a bit more loose, expressive, and energetic, and some of these artists make beautiful use of the effect of a multi-loaded paintbrush. Here’s just one example of a landscape by Lynn Boggess that includes several details of areas showing the technique:

details (left) of Lynn Boggess's "7 November 2014" (right)

details (left) of Lynn Boggess’s “7 November 2014” (right)

You can spot creative and lovely use of a multi-loaded brush (or more accurately in Lynn’s case, palette knife or cement trowel, not brush) in nearly every single one of Lynn’s vivid landscapes in his solo exhibition, currently hanging at the gallery. Visit the online preview here and click through the paintings to see if you can spot them!

Another artist who makes brilliant use of a multi-loaded brush is Barbara Flowers, a talented painter whose gorgeous work we have begun to show this year. Click here to check out all of our available works by Barbara on our site, and take a look at the image below to see how Barbara’s use of a multi-loaded brush gives gorgeously subtle yet vibrant effect to each facet of her still life painting.

details (left) of Barbara Flowers's "Two Peaches and Hydrangea" (right)

details (left) of Barbara Flowers’s “Two Peaches and Hydrangea” (right)

Join us next week on Technique Tuesday as we continue to explore these amazing tricks of the trade utilized by our talented artists here at Principle Gallery!