Last week, I started a gouache experiments weekly challenge with the purpose of developing my understating of gouache. So, far I’ve been really enjoying this challenge as I think it is helping me stay focused on developing my food illustration style. These gouache experiments are also helping me expand my portfolio beyond ink drawings that are then incorporated into my digital illustration process.
The piece I created for this week is a botanical culinary image that has this minimalist Italian Mediterranean feel. It’s very much influenced by my family’s connection to Italy, as well as the wonderful Italian food heritage that my husband brings to the table. Italian food is all about fresh ingredients and I think this piece is a celebration of just that!
I also created a video that features the two gouache experiments from last week, as well as this week’s gouache exercise. I’m hoping to turn this into a weekly blog plus YouTube occurrence, especially that I have really enjoyed filming this week’s challenge.
The Opacity of Gouache
What I really liked most about this week’s piece is the way I’ve varied the opaqueness and transparency of gouache paint across the artwork. Around the mushroom area, for instance, you’ll see a watercolour-like effect, while in other areas like the rosemary sprigs, olives dish, and some of the tomatoes, the opacity is quite high, with multiple layers breathing life into these botanical elements.
As, I mentioned in my last blog, I love the different manifestations of opacity, which I get to experience in my oil paintings (to be featured on my blog in the near future).
I love pigment, which is the raw powder used to create all sorts of paints, including gouache, watercolour, and oil. I like to look beyond the paint tube that I’m using, to try and understand the elemental qualities beyond the hue of the colour. For instance, the paint set I am using for my gouache experiments has this “dusty” quality, which I’m really liking! No matter how vibrant the colour, it ends up quite muted once its drying time is over, and that I very much like.
I guess I got a little bit carried away this week and went as far as turn this gouache illustration into a pattern that I then placed on different products in my Redbubble shop. I discovered a while back that Surface pattern design is a huge interest of mine. I love to see my illustrations on different surfaces, like wearable apparel, stationery, and home décor items.
Upgrading to an Italian Gouache Brand
I’m using a cheap brand that is non-toxic and that also has a quality certificate that allows it to be sold in EU countries. Seeing how it is certified to enter the EU market, which I know is very difficult to get into, I gathered there must be something good about this gouache set.
I guess, sooner or later, I will have to upgrade to a known gouache brand. I have one brand in mind that my hubby has advised me to consider, called Maimeri. I’ve also read good things about another US-based brand that a lot of you might have already heard about, called DaVinci. – which was started by an Italian man called Marcello in Peru, whose son then moved from Peru to California. The brand’s website now says its paints are made in the US.
Italians are masters of their craft, and for this reason I guess I might prefer to upgrade to an Italian brand. We shall see!
Until then, stay tuned and looking forward to seeing you in my next post!
Food & botanical gouache paintings by illustrator and artist Yaansoon