Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Can You Reconstitute Gouache?

Rick asked me: "Can [gouache] paint which has completely dried and hardened in its tube be rescued and reconstituted to an original consistency, after it has been stored too long?" I didn't feel sure of the answer, so I posed it to the Group Mind on Facebook:

Theresa M Quirk No. I think it goes in the garbage

Паулина Зетина Mine are very hard and I think to cut the tube because it's hard to paint without it but mine were hard after 5 years I say that to me if it works

Robert Tunstall it can't be brought back to its former glory. It does have limited use as a watercolour substitute though. As for tips, I store the tubes cap down on a wall rack I made. I drilled holes in a strip of wood.
Brad Fuller Nope, but it can be used as an indicator you aren’t painting enough.😀

Randy C. Spear Yeah long has it been ? Over 30 yrs? LOL!!!

Dirk Shearer Amateur experience: I once poured gouache into little film containers for some reason. Over the years they dried up, and I was able to reconstitute it slowly back to a paste constituency. I’m not a gouache expert, and the gouache I used was not high quality, so I can’t speak to the quality before and after, but I was able to paint with the gouache again to a degree.

Robert Tunstall if they dry out, check they still adhere to paper when applied thick. if not, a touch of gum arabic will help with adhesion.

Cathy Johnson I squeeze mine into a travel palette and allow it to dry. Before painting, maybe 5 minutes before, I rewet and allow to sit. Not the SAME as fresh, but fine for working in the field in my journal. (Some brands rewet better than others...I have the best luck with M. Graham and Schmincke...)

Robert Tunstall schmincke has a finer grind of pigments than WN. It always causes me trouble when using the two brands as they need different amounts of water to achieve the thickness of cream.

Marcus M Mashburn Just stayed up all night doing 6 gouache illustrations. You sure can reuse them. I cut the tube open and grinde them with a mortar, pestle and water. If I'm out a color, I look in the dry tube box. Works great at 2 AM.

...and on Twitter:
Lucille Halfon Dan Yes, absolutely. Except for the earth colors, which usually don't soften well. Remove the dead gouache tube, let pigment soak in water for a while. Then, 'grind' the color with a firm bristol brush. You may, or not, add a bit of glycerin for added gloss.

carlydraws I had some success crushing up the dried paint in a pestle and mortar and then soaking it in water and remixing. It was not quite the same as before but was usable!

Travelling Cat Studio
Take the top off and soak in water for several days. Repeat as it only softens near the top. You might also squish it a few times to help the process of absorbing water back into paint. I've also thought of using a syringe with very thin needle to squirt water into paint tube.

The most I've been able to do is cut open the tube and have the chunks go into a dedicated pallete well and alternate between wetting it and mushing it in so it fuses. But then it's basically a watercolor cake, it doesnt have that acrylic vibe anymore.

If all you want is portable, opaque paint, then I do suggest using small containers of poster paint instead since they keep their fresh consistency & rewet better when dried Eh, definitely less painterly than gouache, but it gets things done

What has been your experience?

Don't throw out your old gouache
Tip: Keep Gouache Fresh in Jars


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SummaSummanum said...

I tend to use dried-up guache like chinese ink sticks. Regrind them into a puddle. I use old flower-pot dish, that is un-glazed, insted of an a ink-stone.

These days I add a few drops of glaire to the paint, instead of guma-arabica. More brilliant color, great medium on its own right.

Mario said...

I agree with some comments from Facebook/Twitter: you have to patiently rewet the paint, adding water little by little, then mixing with a palette knife. If you rapidly rewet the dried paint, as you usually do with watercolor pans, you get a poor, chalky, "dirty water" which is far from the creamy fresh gouache.

@SummaSummanum: can you tell us something more specific about glair? How does it work? I know it was used in ancient illuminated manuscripts, I've always been curious about that.

SummaSummanum said...

@Mario Glair is quite an interesting medium, it was used for an illumination of books, at the time when they where hand-written. It is associated with egg tempera, but re-wettable. Egg tempera is essentially using the yolk, wich dries hard and is more archival than oil painting are. The glair is the white of the egg, beaten into a foam and drained. I use small plastic bottles, shake it really hard, and leave it overnight in a refrigerator. And just drain it into a container.

It keeps really well. I love the egg yolk (i.e. tempera) painting, but it does go bad fast. The glaire can be used for a long time, and is re wettable, that is elastic enough to go into books, notebooks,,,,,

Mario said...

Thank you SummaSummanum, a lot of questions arise in my mind.
If Mr Gurney is interested, maybe you could make an entire post about this subject. There are hundreds of sites about egg (yolk) painting, but I never found anything about egg glair tempera. It's a beautiful "technology" from past times.

glenda rogers said...

YES!! There is a way to restore hardened Gouache tubes to working consistency!! I learned this from Rob Howard's site, the Ceninni Forum, years ago, and it works perfectly. I saved well over a hundred and twenty dollars if I were to replace them today. Rock hard, all of them, some barely used and years old, with some decades old.

Here's the items needed and the process:

Humidors are perfect for this task, but I used, on Robs advice for a substitute, a Tupperware bowl with the fabled lid to get the air out. The set up is minutes, but it takes about 2 weeks of waiting to get the results.

1- Using a humidor or a tight lidded plastic bowl, place some flat sponges in the bottom, and then put in a wire rack that will rest just above them not touching the sponges. That is where you will put the gouache tubes. Now pour enough water in the bottom to fully saturate the sponges with some water left in the bottom. I use about half to three quarters of an inch, once the sponges are thoroughly soggy.

2- Place the tubes on the wire rack, AFTER you have taped or rubber banded the labels on each tube securely. The labels fall off due to the humidity. Rob Howard warned about this, but I didn't listen, and had to figure out which blues, which yellows, etc., belonged with which labels, so forewarned is forearmed.

3- Place the lid on securely, or close the humidor as directed, and wait patiently. I wouldn't open for about 10 days minimum.

4- NOTE: There will be some mold or fungus when you go into the container finally. It's inevitable, and I throw out the sponges after, thoroughly cleaning my plastic container and wire shelf. I also have used a steel perforated raised plate, that was in the bottom of an old pressure cooker. Worked well as it had enough openings to allow the humidity to circulate but tight enough to keep tubes from dropping through to the sponges and water.

It is well worth the small of amount of time to give this a try, and it does work.

Rob Howard passed away recently and I hope to honor his memory also by sharing a small part of his vast knowledge of techniques and materials, as it was his true nature to generously share and support the journeys of artists from all walks of life.

Caroline Bingley said...

I am adding gouache to my watercolor repertoire. I bought several daniel smith tubes and put them on a plastic palette. But they fall off of it after they dry. i tried sanding the palette first. any recommendations? I think i posted this question in the wrong place originally!