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Gouache paintings are images on paper, cardboard, plywood or thick silk, which are applied with dense water-soluble paints. Gouache (fr. gouache, it. guazzo — water paint, splash) is a matte opaque paint made of pigments, water, white and gum arabic or starch as binders. When used, the surface gets smooth and velvety. Artists choose this technique for its quick drying, ease of use, the possibility of water dilution of the dried paint, and most important — for the right to make mistakes and multiple corrections of the drawing. Dried gouache allows a painter to cover the unsuccessful detail of the picture with a new layer, while the old fragment is not seen through and does not leave a trace. An artist also takes into account the fact that when applying several layers of paint, the area of the painting cracks and crumbles. After the gouache dries, the image gets lighter, but it retains the colour brightness, saturation and uniformity. Professional artists disparagingly speak of gouache drawings, calling the technique the children’s art or poster painting. This technique is used to create colour sketches, portrait miniatures, book illustrations, and easel graphics.
Gouache appeared in Europe during the Middle Ages, when artists added white to watercolours to thicken the colour: a smear of gouache stood out against a blurred watercolour background. Illustrators immediately saw the advantages of the new paint. The Mannerist Paolo Pino (1525—1587) was the first to use the technique of combining gouache and watercolours in creating paintings. Renaissance masters used gouache to enhance the brightness and contrast of the sketch drawing. The term “gouache drawing” appeared in the 18th century in France, and at the late 19th — early 20th centuries, technology has much evolved. The great artists of the era, such as Marc Chagall and Salvador Dalí, Boris Kustodiev and Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas and Valentin Serov, willingly used gouache when creating paintings. 20th century graphic designers used a fluorescent form of the paint to decorate performances and enhance decorative effects in the dark.
Gouache is popular among the artists of all styles and genres, the technique is used to create landscapes and still lifes, portraits and genre scenes. The velvet texture of the paint perfectly conveys the atmosphere of evening twilight and predawn mist. To create a painting, artists choose brushes that are made of natural wool with a sharp tip. When working in gouache, there are several methods of applying brushstrokes and working with layers: the pasty technique resembles oil painting, glazing involves diluting the gouache with water, graffito resembles the “engraving” of a picture: the artist scratches the top layer of paint and exposes the bottom. The softness and contrast of the image is affected by the number of layers and the moisture content of the brush and drawing paper. Artists consider gouache to be the ideal material for mixed media paintings: the paint contrasts with soft watercolour background, but it also softens the harsh acrylic colours.