One of the sometimes frustrating things about watercolor which we all come up against is the difficulty in making alterations to your painting if you don’t like what you have painted. Yes, you probably can lift out some of the colour you’ve applied, you can keep going, and add pen or other features. But one technique that many people often overlook is using opaque colour to transform your painting.
Gouache is the answer. Contrary to belief, you don’t need to buy a whole set of colors of gouache in order to paint in gouache. You just need white. White gouache mixes easily with all other watercolors and transforms them into opaque watercolor instantly. If you use a good quality white gouache, such as Winsor and Newton, Royal Talens, or Holbein you’ll be amazed at what happens.
And you can use this method to paint a whole painting, and it’s such fun! Watch me paint a page of flowers in my sketchbook using white gouache and Meeden tube watercolors.
For this painting I used my set of Meeden watercolors which are great for transparent work but also work very well when mixed with white gouache. I have a couple of different types, but can recommend Winsor & Newton and Holbein.
I painted on a sheet of heavy sketch paper similar to this one by String & Space using a size 12 round brush similar to the Princeton Aqua Elite
Here’s an example of what you can do with a painting you’re less than thrilled with. On the left, a bird from imagination, painted in Meeden watercolours. On the right, same bird, overpainted in various colours using gouache mixed with the same watercolours. I wanted to turn the anonymous bird into a Kookaburra and with the help of opaque color was reasonably pleased with the result. It means that you can use watercolor in more of a painterly fashion, that is to say like you would use oils, or some acrylics. Try it!