M. Graham, Holbein, Winsor and Newton, Utrecht, Lukas Gouache
Schmincke, Pebeo, Royal Talens, and I've been having fun with all of them.
But my experiments haven't been very systematic, and I often mix several brands on a given painting outing.
One of the brands of gouache I just haven't tried out yet is Caran d'Ache, though I use their water-soluble colored pencils all the time.
Adrian Weber, a fine-art product developer from the Caran D'Ache company in Geneva, wrote me with further answers to the questions I posed to representatives of all the gouache manufacturers. I had inquired what ingredients they used and what qualities they thought were important. (See their answers in my post about Gouache Ingredients)
Mr. Weber started by offering three important "gouache criteria":
"A. Opacity : As you say, our definition of « gouache » (from Italian « guazzo ») means a rather opaque, covering « sauce » with a certain covering power on dark undergrounds."
"B. Water-solubility : According to our definition, gouache needs to be water soluble and stay water soluble. We do not understand how other producers can label colours writing things like : « Acrylic Gouache ». It can’t be both! Either it’s acrylic and permanent after drying (I call it a « liquid plastic » that hardens when water evaporates ; polymerization), or it’s gouache and you can always dissolve layers underneath."
"C. Matt surface : Typical for a good gouache should be it’s matt aspect when dried. It should be close to the pure pigment powder aspect and by this make a distinction to satinated, creamy or oily aspects of other types. This characteristic makes gouache so unique and essential for studying and teaching « colour mixing » based on primaries etc.!"
"To clarify this, I think you need to explain to your readers the terms « Gouache », « Plakatfarbe [in English we'd say "poster paint"] », and « Tempera » that all mean a kind of opaque water colour."
"Even in our own range, we’ve known and still know different types of « gouache ». We only speak for our own gouaches:"
"1. Gouache in tablets/cakes (dry)
To produce our dry gouache tablets, we extrude them with pressure from a highly pigmented, humide paste (unlike most other producer from dry powder similar to medical pills). In order to provide the right consistency and to make it extrudable, this gouache contains kaolin and calcium carbonite, not just as filler, but as « consistency provider ». We use vegetable binders without plastifiers here." Retail info on pans sets here
"2. Gouache extra-fine in small tubes (consistency like tooth paste)
Gouache extra-fine is close to a water colour, as the binder is arabic gum and that the quantity of mineral filler is just minimal." Retail info here for a product marked "Studio" but more expensive than the brand below [Edit: Here's a European link to a product marked "Extra Fine"]--Thanks, Steve
"3. Gouache studio in small tubes (consistency like tooth paste)
Gouache studio contains some kaolin and calcium carbonate, some colours containing white also titanium White PW6 which serves as pigment but also as « filler » at the same time." Retail info on gouache studio sets
"4. Gouache studio in bottles (liquid)
Liquid Gouache in bottles, mainly used by schools contains bigger quantities of these above mentioned mineral fillers, we use natural binders such as corn or potato starch. As regulations have become so strict on toys, this type of gouache nowadays is close to a food product, as there’s just a minimal quantity of conserving agent against spoilage (20 years ago, formaldehyde was used by most producers !)" Retail info on Caran d'Ache Fancolor Tempera
"Last remark : Our philosophy is that a good gouache colour, despite its covering qualities, should still be luminous and powerful. This is the reason why we use a strong concentration and a high quality of pigments that we carefully refine in our mills and grinders in our Genevan factory."
"I often compare a colour with coffee or chocolate : Concentrated black coffee made with the best beans has got power and makes an « explosion of taste» in your mouth and throat (similar effect on paper with highly concentrated watercolour without filler !). Now, some people like to add some milk in their coffee or producers add water to decrease the costs of the expensive coffee powder. That’s all ok, but if you add too much milk (filling material !) or too much water in your coffee, it loses its original power and taste, it just gets a characterless muddy sauce!"
"In other words : You can always break down a highly concentrated colour and lighten or darken it, but you can never « pimp up » a colour with too much filler, white or similar ingredients."
"Wishing you all the best for your great project, with kind regards from Geneva, Adrian"
Previously on GurneyJourney: Gouache Ingredients: Info from Manufacturers
Visit the Caran d'Ache website at carandache.com
Own the 72-minute feature "Gouache in the Wild"
• HD MP4 Download at Gumroad $14.95
• or HD MP4 Download at Sellfy (for Paypal customers) $14.95
• DVD at Purchase at Kunaki.com (Region 1 encoded NTSC video) $24.50