The Secrets Of Black And White Gouache
Today’s scribes learning to paint Calontir’s preprints often start with a Reeves gouache set for their paints. They’re an inexpensive student grade non-acrylic paint that does well for painting entry-level awards.
What do you do when you use up your first paint, usually white? What is the best white gouache to buy?”
In gouache, there are several whites: chalk white, zinc white, titanium white, permanent white and lead white. It can be puzzling. What is the difference between the gouache whites?
In Calontir the gouache scribes use is a water-soluble gum arabic paint. It is not an acrylic product even though some of those are labeled “gouache”.
While all those paints listed are whites they each have a different hint of another color. That tinge distinguishes them from each other.
It is difficult for me to see the difference unless I paint them in side-by-side swatches. It’s even harder for you to see if I scanned them to post here.
Besides the slight color tinge, the various whites are made from different chemicals. Each behaves slightly different depending on what you do with it.
Chalk White or Lime White‘s use dates back to prehistoric times and continues until today. It doesn’t hide underpainting well, so it isn’t used for scrolls.
Lead White is poisonous because of, well, its toxic lead. Historically its use goes back to antiquity, a very early SCA era. While it is still sold by a few producers today, it is mostly used as Flake White in oil paint. It is seldom used for SCA awards.
Zinc White, initially called “Chinese White” when introduced by Winsor and Newton, is not period. It was first made in the early 1800s. Zinc White is a translucent gouache and does not hide underpainting well. Although I like it better for making tints.
Titanium White is even newer than zinc white, initially sold in 1916. The website Pigments through the Ages describes Titanium White as the “Strongest, most brilliant white available to artists in the entire history of art.”
I prefer Titanium White for highlights or strokes over underpainting. It is great for geometric diapering and small bar borders.
Ivory Black is the alternative name gouache producers call Bone Black. It was used in prehistoric art and is still popular today. Originally it was made from charred bones or waste ivory. Today it is an inorganic synthetic product made from Carbon Black and calcium phosphate.
Ivory Black is a dense black with a blue tinge. Ivory or Bone Black is a slightly less intense, black than Lamp Black. The synthetic version was discovered in 1929.
black gouache paints, you’ll want to try these out yourself. Test them on your favorite Bristol board, pergamenata or any unfinished preprints you have. How these whites and blacks handle depends on your touch too.
As I read on Wet Canvas, “Your best teacher is your own brush”.
Handprint: Guide to Watercolor Pigments
Winsor and Newton: Back in Black
Making Artist Paint by Tony Johansen Black Artist’s Pigments
Categories: Materials And Tools