Practice painting with gouache in a 3-color study

After being so disappointed in how my mug illustration turned out yesterday, I decided it was time to watch some training videos on working with gouache. This 3-color gouache study project caught my attention because it looked like a good project for beginner level gouache painting, and I liked the subject.

Instead of using the colors from the video, I used Prussian blue, carmine, and yellow ochre, with a smidge of lemon yellow as a highlight.

3-color gouache study of avocado on Fabriano Studio cold press watercolor paper

One thing that intrigued me about this tutorial was how he put down a light wash of paint to dirty up the paper and get rid of the white. I’m not sure if that was a psychological thing (taking away the fear of the clean, blank page) or if it has an effect on the paint. But I’ve been playing with that method here and there and love it.

I liked the process of painting in the subject with brush strokes, knowing that they’d be covered up and corrected along the way. I also like how the right edge of the avocado is lost into the background — that’s a concept I’ve been learning more about and it’s coming up in The Watercolor Book, which I’m following along with to improve my watercolor skills. One element of this idea is seeing values as abstract shapes, rather than parts of discrete objects.

I wish my painting didn’t look so tight and refined and would love to have more brush strokes showing. I used a 1/4″ flat brush for this one, but maybe changing to the 1/2″ would help. I don’t think I’d be able to make it look neat and tidy with that brush at this scale!

This was done on a 6×6-inch square of Fabriano Studio cold press watercolor paper. I’m experimenting with what media works well on this particular paper, and the gouache did nicely.

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