Welcome to International Fake Journal Month 2013!

What is IFJM?
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Participants who Post Their Journals
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View a Couple of Roz's Past Fake Journals
Roz's 2009 fake journal takes place in an alternate Twin Cites, where disease has killed the human and bird populations. (It ends up being an upbeat tale of friendship.) Watch a video flip through of Roz's 2009 fake journal here.

Read an explanation of Roz's insanely complex 2011 fake journal.

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Remember, "Life's so short, why live only one?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

EMERGENCY—BEWARE—DaVinci Gouache Has a Quirky Little (HA) Characteristic

I'm waiting for Dick to get home so that he can draw a name out of the hat for the winner of the Spot-the-Robot game in my 2013 Fake Journal Video.

Meanwhile I have URGENT Business to discuss with you.

I wrote a review of DaVinci gouache here.

As soon as I post this post I will go and put an addendum on that original post—but I didn't want you to  MISS THIS NEWS.

I was painting this evening in a large 11 x 14 inch Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Hardbound Journal. (It is cheaper for me to buy those journals in that size than to make journals in that size because of the sheet size I can get paper in. And as you can see from this year's fake journal I'm just working larger and larger all the time—so an 11 x 14 inch Strathmore journal seemed a nice choice).

I have worked on this paper since it came out some time ago. I love it. I make books out of it (smaller books, square books mostly, as those aren't available). I have worked on this paper in gouache before, with Schmincke and M. Graham brand gouache.

Imagine my surprise then when I was working on a gouache painting with DaVinci gouache and thought, "well that paper is getting moist I wonder if I will have the same problem that I had when I was gluing down paintings made with DaVinci Gouache." (Remember—the moisture in the glue reactivated the dry paint and it came up on the wax paper I used to burnish the painting in place! You can see a photo of this and read about it in my review of DaVinci gouache, link repeated here.)

I pulled the left page back and SURE ENOUGH the moisture from the new painting on the next spread had migrated through the paper and it had reactivated the paint on the previous spread. That "dry" painting on the previous page had started to "print" onto its facing page.


I have for decades painted with gouache in my journals, painting on one spread on one day and then the next day painting on the back of the very page I'd painted on the day before. I have used a variety of cheap gouache brands over the years and in the past 10 years I've used Schmincke gouache and then M. Graham gouache (I don't recall exactly when M. Graham released their gouache line, but I started using it right away.)

I have never had a situation on ANY of the papers I make journals out of (and Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper is one of those papers) where the paint on the previous spread was reactivated by the moisture from the new layers of paint on the current page spread. The list of papers I've used includes most watercolor papers that are 90 and 140 lb., lots of printing papers, several drawing papers, you get the idea—a wide variety.

This has never happened to me before.

But here it was happening today.

It is a characteristic of DaVinci Gouache.


I would not recommend anyone use DaVinci Gouache for visual journaling because of this characteristic—paint reactivating because of moisture/painting on the next page, causing the paint to reactivate and "print" onto its facing page. 

Use either Schmincke or M. Graham brands of gouache. I've never had this problem with them.

I'm not overly fond of Holbein gouache for a number or reasons you can read on my main blog but it is opaque and even if somewhat fugitive it's fun to use. I've never had this problem with it either.

Because of this moisture reactivation characteristic I would further recommend that if you do choose to use DaVinci gouache in your visual journal that you NEVER, EVER close your book with even moist glue a few page spreads further on in the book. If you weight your pages when you glue, like I do, you'll be trapping the moisture from the glue (even a glue stick has moisture) and that may migrate through the pages to your painting and reactivate the DaVinci gouache, causing it to "print" on its facing page, ruining perhaps your favorite spread, and at best altering it.

If you do use DaVinci gouache in your visual journal always place a dividing sheet (I recommend glassine for a permanent sheet, or wax paper during gluing) between two pages of a spread that have a "dry" painting on them, when you are gluing later in your book. That way if moisture from the glue, matte medium, gel medium, acrylic paint, watercolor, or gouache migrates through the paper (as moisture will do in any paper) and it reactivates that gouache painting, you'll have protected it from messing across facing pages.

I would do this even if you use gesso as a ground on your pages before you paint on them. Gesso should stop some of the moisture transfer, but I wouldn't bet on it.

I think your best bet is to avoid DaVinci gouache for visual journaling all together. If you want to experiment with it, use it on single sheets you'll only be painting on one side.

Or use it on separate sheets of paper as I did in my 2013 fake journal, cut out the painting and glue it in your journal—keeping in mind that you can't weight it as it dries, or even burnish it down hard, or you'll pick up too much of the original painting. (See my original review of DaVinci gouache as to how I did this and what happened. And keep glassine or wax paper between the pages of a spread where a painting has been glued in if that painting was made with DaVinci gouache and you are painting or gluing further on in your book.)

This is pretty much a deal breaker for me for using DaVinci gouache in my visual journals.

Again, I have had decades of using other gouache, specifically Schmincke gouache and then M. Graham, and I have not experienced this "quirk" which I would label a problem, with either of those brands, even on very lightweight paper, like Nideggen.

I had to let you know about this right way. I thought the problem I experienced in the fake journal came out of my practice of painting on loose sheets and gluing those paintings in. PVA is very moist.

I didn't realize the paint would respond in this way if another painting were painted on the reverse side.

Now I'm going to put a note on that original post! BEWARE.


Gina Lento said...

Good post Roz....I like M Graham as well.....I bought some tubes of Lukas (before I was more educated)....Winsor & Newton's tubes get hard too fast....I love the buttery consistancy of M Graham in both the watercolor and gouache lines....once my other tubes run out I am converting all over to M Graham.

ELLEN said...

Thank you for falling on the gouache grenade for the rest of us....( I picture you with the braids mid air landing on a paint ball)!
There must be a whole lot of binder in Da Vinci--because I use the Strathmore paper and it is a solid, strong, surface. I feel better now for my insistence in my color class for WINSOR NEWTON brand ( GRAPHIC DESIGN APPLICATION CLASS: we need perfectly flat even application, geometric abstractions.... and I felt Da vinci was a bit too greasy)despite students moaning about cost. I tried to get a mechanical result with Da Vinci myself and it just was a tussle. Too hard for a student.
I would still use it for quick loose color/value studies. I do those on oddball remnants around the studio and if they turn out well sometimes one gets in a frame and ends up a birthday gift. With dodgy brands that may have fugitive colors usually do a value study in grays....

journalrat said...

Ellen, Well, since it's still kind of fun to paint with this paint (as long as it's not in the journal) I haven't injured myself, or ruined any outfits so I'm doing OK.

But we are going to have to agree to disagree about the Winsor and Newton gouache. I find it a horrible paint to use. It smells strongly of chemicals so it makes it unpleasant for me to be around for any length of time. The pigments have always included more fugitive pigments than the brands I recommend and they have always been chalky. I find that difficult for my color theory students to work with.

I always recommend my color theory students use M. Graham gouache or Schmincke gouache. Both are without opacifiers, no smell (except for honey in the case of the MG), and better quality pigments and mostly one-pigment paints (particularly useful for color theory). Both also are smooth working paints which apply easily and can be diluted for clear results as well, should the students wish to do that.

The other thing that is great about Schmincke Gouache and M. Graham brand gouache is that they have very high pigment loads, so when I do get the white out to mix with them a little bit of color goes a long, long way. And they are very economical because of that.

I have one other objection to Winsor and Newton gouache, which I used a lot in my early illustration work. It CRACKS when dry, much more readily than either Schmincke or M. Graham gouache brands, when used in even moderate thickness on pages that are going to be bent and bent.

(I imagine, with your insistence on smooth color applications in geometric abstractions that you're working on illustration board or 300 lb. paper so the cracking isn't an issue for you.)

I won't let color theory students use anything else but Schmincke or M. Graham goauche. I even bring in a couple tubes of WN in colors that we will be using so that they can compare. Most gasp in horror at the difference.

I think greasy is a nice way to describe DaVinci. I have to say, that for all I dislike about DaVinci gouache, I do love the surface some of my paintings for the 2013 fake journal have is fun (in part because some are so layered and in part because of the papers I was using. (I hate how it grabs and ruins my brushes!)

I would hate to have anyone use DaVinci, however, in their journal, flip over a page and start painting and find when they returned home that they had dissolved the previous spreads' work. That could be heartbreaking.

After this latest finding with DaVinci I'm torn about using it even for studies. I may end up just taking it to life drawing, with a bunch of really old brushes!

ellen said...

HAHA!I hear you on the smell. when you have a sealed pot for a day or two, it has the stank of an old summer house at the beach with an undertone of funky old sock.