Note: My favorite gouache remains Schmincke Gouache. You can read numerous posts at Roz Wound Up describing why I love to work with that wonderful paint—not only because the line contains PB60. If I can't work with Schmincke gouache I will work with M. Graham (but that line is severely limited by the lack of PB60). Read this review to learn if DaVinci holds promise for your working methods. I will continue to use DaVinci off and on for sketching until I empty the tubes but I will not use it for my paintings and I will not recommend it to students wishing to study color theory.
Sometime in March I went to life drawing and finally tried the four tubes of DaVinci gouache I had purchased in February 2012! (I know I purchased them then because I date paint tubes when I bring them into the studio.)
I put the plastic palette on which I'd laid out the pigments into a plastic bag (like the one shown in the photo) and left them for a week while I did other things at home. I was amazed a week later that the paints were still soft-ish. That got my mind thinking.
Then I decided to do "ugly paintings."
I'm not stingy with paint. And I don't feel reluctant to use it when I am painting. However, I intended during April 2013 to paint for hours each day and run through a lot of paint. I thought it would be useful to have a less expensive paint for this process. The lesser quality of the paint didn't matter to my character—she doesn't care about archival issues and lightfastness and such the way I usually do.
I thought the 2013 fake journal would be the perfect time and place to spend some concentrated time and effort getting to know this line of paints.
I decided to go out and purchase some additional tubes of DaVinci gouache for the 2013 fake journal. Since the line doesn't include PB60 I was forced to use their Phthalo Blue and Ultramarine Blue. Because of that I also picked up additional colors not in my usual palette, such as Raw Sienna. I wanted to push the color choices into areas I don't usually go—further distancing myself from this paint and the color palette.
I used the following colors listed here in no particular order, well actually the order in which I pulled them out of the bag: Venetian Red, Red Violet, White Titanium, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Magenta, Red, Red Rose (Quin), Yellow Medium, Yellow Ochre, and Yellow Light Hansa. You can find a listing of DaVinci Gouache and the pigments each color contains at their website. I purchased my tubes at my favorite local art supply store Wet Paint, but they are available in numerous locations across the country if you wish to try them.
My methods and rationale for working the way I did in this year's fake journal will be discussed at length in a later post but I wanted you to see some images of one spread in which I used a DaVinci Gouache sketch today.
It was my hope that I would take many progress shots of the elements in this journal. Unfortunately the quick circumstances under which I was working didn't always allow for this, but I have almost a full set of the components that make up the process of the "clown" spread.
(I've made arrangements to have the final book shot with good lighting, but for now I have these photos taken as I was working through the book.)
Click on any image to view an enlargement.
Left: I began with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch on Fabriano gridded paper. I had 9 x 12 inch sheets and they weren't large enough so I taped two pieces together with washi tape (red berry pattern visible in some areas along the seam). I then painted using DaVinci gouache. Then I cut out the image.
Left: A detail of the clown face.
Left: Additional detail from the clown image.
Above: The journal page spread before any art was added to it. This is an acrylic paint monoprint made using the Gelli Arts Printing Plate, and also additional paint added by rolling the brayer across the page.
Left: The Clown painting glued into place on the page spread. Note that the book was already so full at this point in the project that the painting wraps around a bulge to get down into the gutter, thus distorting the image slightly. I like that, or rather, my character did.
Left: I was gluing collaged items into this book with PVA because I knew I would be painting on future pages and the moisture from paint on a future spread would seep through the page and potentially dislodge a painting added with something simpler like glue stick. What happened when I used PVA surprised me. The PVA put moisture into the painting through the back of the sheet I was gluing. Then when I laid it in place on the spread and positioned a piece of wax paper over the painting to burnish it in place I found that enough moisture came through the paper that it softened the paint and the paint lifted off onto the wax paper. (This happening in only a few seconds; less than a minute.) The remaining painting often lacked final details as they came off on the wax paper. A very interesting phenomenon totally in keeping with the process and desires and attitudes of my character. The painting had been completely dry when the image was glued. Sometimes there were days of drying before an image was glued into place. I routinely paint with Schmincke gouache and glue down those images with UHU Gluestick. It doesn't have sufficient moisture to reactivate the paint. I will have to do additional tests at some other date to see how PVA effects Schmincke gouache. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Left: The final page spread shows the sketch glued in place with additional collage material glued at the side and rubberstamped text.
Problems I Encountered with DaVinci Gouache:1. The line doesn't include all the pigments I enjoy working with specifically PB60. This forced me to be experimental in my color mixes and it's good to push out of your comfort zone sometimes.
2. The gouache is very stiff after only a little bit of working and I ruined two quality synthetic brushes. (I would recommend that people working with this paint use stiffer brushes like a Bristlton). I found it was fun (not a bad thing) to keep pushing the paint around, but the result was bristles bent beyond repair. I could compensate and add more water in more quickly, but I did enjoy pushing the paint around even though I knew I was ruining a brush. (The paint pulled and "stuck" so much when I was moving paint around that one side of a filbert actually curled away from the main body of the brush. The other brush was a round and was quickly worn and splayed.)
3. Thick layers of paint tend to dry with an almost slick surface which is indicative of how they are formulating their paint. If you're used to a matte gouache that isn't going to be achievable. I think the slick surface might be caused by the type of gum Arabic used, or some other binder additive I'm unaware of being included in this paint.
4. Mixing even pigments I'm accustomed to mixing I found the results were muddier than when mixing Schmincke gouache.
5. Washed out glazes of these paints are not as rich and saturated as either Schmincke or M. Graham brands of gouache.
6. There is a "cloudiness" to the washes of color when used lightly.
7. The tackiness of the paint is a distinct disadvantage when you are painting on non-typical surfaces, particularly toothy ones like the sumi paper I used for a background for this painting of a French Bulldog on a different spread. I found it was difficult to control the strokes in my normal fashion.
Fun Things I Encountered with DaVinci Gouache:
2. Even in thick applications of paint the gouache holds well to the page, even when that page is repeatedly bent. It is a flexible paint film for gouache.
3. The paint stays softer on the palette longer than other brands I've used. If you're going to use an inexpensive, lower quality paint I recommend you use this brand instead of Lukas, Holbein and such. I think you'll get more out of your paint because you won't have to reconstitute it as much and it won't be crumbly when you do. (Note: when I rewet Schmincke and M. Graham I do not have problems with crumbling.)
Note: If you think that M. Graham gouache has a tacky consistency and you don't like that you will find that DaVinci is even more tacky, as expressed in the comments in both the problems and fun categories of this list. I think that M. Graham has a smooth and even consistency and is slightly more tacky than Schmincke (which I also feel has a smooth consistency). However DaVinci is much more tacky thank M. Graham. It will have the benefit of staying soft on your palette longer, but I think it's downright sticky compared to the other brands.
4. There is good opacity in this paint, though often I had to paint a first layer and then let it dry and paint an additional layer. Most of this I believe was due to the unsuitable paper on which I was painting. Some pigments were less opaque than others as is true in any line.
5. There is no unpleasant binder or other smell in this paint. (Winsor and Newton Gouache has a chemical smell that bothers me. So does Lukas.)
Additional CommentsYou can find a color chart with lightfastness ratings and pigment numbers on the DaVinci site. They provide Cobalt Hue and use PB29 to do it, which is the pigment used for French Ultramarine Blue. They are doctoring it in some way to come up with a less expensive Cobalt paint. If this is a pigment that matters to you you'll have problems with that. The yellows are disappointing to me in range and in lightfastness. I would not recommend this paint to my color theory students if they wanted to have great success mixing and discovering colors they love. But if someone wants a less expensive gouache that doesn't stink and has a bit of room for some play in brush handling he might like this paint.
Get a limited number of tubes (a red, a yellow, a blue) and test them. (Oh, and the year old paint I had, it was just fine.)
Just don't try to wet the backs of your paintings with PVA and glue them down!
UPDATE: May 15, 2013 EMERGENCY—BEWARESince finishing the fake journal I haven't used DaVinci gouache until this past week. Tonight I was working in another journal with it on the back of a previous painting made with DaVinci gouache and I experienced the same REACTIVATION of dry paint that happened when I applied PVA to the backs of my loose sheet paintings.
You can go to the emergency post about this characteristic here.
What you should know is that I do not recommend DaVinci gouache for use in a visual journal because of this. (But if you should decide to use it my new post has some recommendations for you.)
I have NEVER had this problem with either Schmincke or M. Graham gouache brands and so of course I can still heartily recommend either of those two brands for anyone interested in working with gouache in their visual journal.