Friday, 19 October 2018


My Gouache Palette.  

There are two styles of gouache that I have worked with. One has chalk added to make it more opaque. This is really lovely to work with fresh from the tube, but doesn't re-wet well.

The other is really just a very concentrated watercolour - no added chalk. This is the type I am most interested in. As far as I am aware, the brands that created this sort of gouache are M.Graham, Da Vinci and Schmincke. I've ended up using a mixture of these brands in my gouache palette. I am looking for fairly opaque but re-wettable versions since it is a travel and teaching palette. They will all crack a bit if you fill a pan too fast - it needs to be done in many stages - but I find it is also helpful to add a drop or two of glycerine to help them to rewet. They are designed to work with watercolours or alone. I have shown how it looks if no glycerine is 
added when filling (always bit by bit) - you can see some cracking in the colours along the left side.

I have previously posted a couple of swatches of gouache when setting up a sketching palette -
M.Graham here and painted out here, Schmincke here the Zorn palette here and a photo of a swatch of my gouache palette here.

I will update these individual swatches, but I think it is more helpful to have them altogether.

I had some old gouache from the 1990s - some with no numbers or pigment information so I've included those too.

I used a 6 colour plus black and white set in the Art Spectrum range to create a whole range of colour charts and wheels here, but the Black and White, Deep Yellow, Ultramarine and Vermilion I used have long since dried up so I haven't included a sample of those.

Here are the various tube sizes - the Da Vinci 37ml tubes are enormous! The others range from 14ml for the W&N, 15ml for the Schmincke Horadam, the M.Graham and the smaller Da Vinci, and 22.5 ml for the Art Spectrum.
Tubes of gouache vary quite a bit in size, just like watercolour.

Here are the whites.

White Gouache - Titanium White Da Vinci) Titanium White Schmincke, Opaque White Schmincke, 
Permanent White Winsor & Newton, titanium White M.Graham.

Cadmium pigments made a whole lot of sense if you want opaque colours without additives, but they are expensive.

Cool and mid yellow Gouache - Hansa Yellow Light Da Vinci, Cadmium Yellow Light Schmincke, 
Primary Yellow Winsor & Newton, Azo Yellow M.Graham, Primrose Art Spectrum.

Mid to warm yellow Gouache - Cadmium Yellow Schmincke, Cadmium Yellow Hue Schmincke, 
Indian Yellow Schmincke, Cadmium Yellow Deep Schmincke, Gamboge M.Graham. 

I really love the pigment PR255 as a warm red. It's probably not as opaque as a cadmium scarlet would be but it's gorgeous.

Warm Red Gouache - Vermillion Tone Schmincke, Vermillion Red Schmincke, Naphthol Red M.Graham. 

Cool red Gouache - Alizarin Crimson (Quin) Da Vinci, Carmine Schmincke, Madder Red Schmincke, 
Quinacriodone Rose M.Graham, Crimson Art Spectrum.

Magenta Gouache - Magenta Da Vinci 

I like the depth of the Schmincke Ultramarine Deep, but these are all nice to paint with.

Ultramarine Gouache - Ultramarine Da Vinci, Ultramarine Deep Schmincke, Ultramarine M.Graham. 

Phthalo pigments are not opaque. They are good for tinting other colours though.

Cool blue Gouache - Phthalo Blue Da Vinci, Helio Blue Schmincke, Intense Blue Winsor & Newton, Myosis Blue, Winsor & Newton, Asure Blue Winsor & Newton.

I don't think the Art Spectrum was a genuine cerulean pigment as it looks like a phthalo blue, but the M.Graham certainly is.

Cool blue and cerulean Gouache - Paris Blue Schmincke, Peacock Blue Winsore & Newton, 
Cerulean Blue M.Graham, Cerulean Blue Art Spectrum

This is a lovely turquoise colour. I don't use it much but it is a little more opaque than the phthalos and can be used to neutralise a warm red, or to mix greens with the yellows.

Turquoise Gouache - Helio Turquoise Schmincke.

Phthalo green is usually a transparent pigment.

Green Gouache - Helio Green Bluish Schmincke, Phthalocyaninie Green M.Graham.

I really like PBr24 but only have it in my gouache palette. From 2022 it is also available in Daniel Smith gouache.

Gouache - Naples Yellow Winsor & Newton, Titanium Gold Ochre Schmincke.

The Da Vinci Yellow Ochre is just lovely.

Yellow ochre Gouache - Yellow Ochre Da Vinci, Yellow Ochre Winsor & Newton. 

Raw Sienna Gouache - Raw Sienna Winsor & Newton, Raw Sienna M.Graham, Raw Sienna Da Vinci, 
Raw Sienna Schmincke.

Burnt Sienna Gouache - Burnt Sienna Da Vinci, Burnt Sienna Schmincke, Burnt Sienna Winsor & Newton, 
Burnt Sienna M.Graham. 

Apart from the English Red, these are old Winsor and Newton tubes with no pigment information. They probably pre-date the internet ;-)

Red earth Gouache - English Red Schmincke, Chinese Orange Winsor & Newton, Venetian Red Winsor & Newton,
Red Ochre Winsor & Newton.

The Da Vinci Raw Umber is a lovely deep cool brown.

Dark brown Gouache - Raw Umber Da Vinci, Raw Umber Winsor & Newton, Raw Umber M.Graham, 
Sepia Winsor & Newton.

Schmincke Neutral Grey gouache, like their watercolour, is made from coloured pigments not black or white. I really like that :-). The Winsor & Newton tubes predate pigment information.

Grey Gouache - Neutral Grey Schmincke, Grey No 1 (Light) Winsor & Newton, Grey No 2 Winsor & Newton, 
Grey No 3 Winsor & Newton, Grey No 4 Winsor & Newton, Grey No 5 (Dark) Winsor & Newton.

I liked the Schmincke best in this range, though I tend to use the grey above.

Black Gouache - Black Da Vinci, Ivory Black Schmincke, Jet Black Schmincke, 
Ivory Black CMYK Winsor & Newton, Lamp Black M.Graham.

I use some sparkly colours for calligraphy, not for painting. The Silver and Bronze are very old tubes.

Metallic Gouache - Red Pearl Schmincke, Gold Pearl Schmincke, Silver Linel, Bronze Winsor & Newton.


  1. Between M. Graham, Schmincke and Da Vinci, do you have any preference in general or is this a preference of a single color over another depending on the brand?

    BTW have you seen the new Da Vinci Series 499 Traditional wash brush Size 3 with Ethergraf ® Metalpoint tip? I have one and I think I love it. The brush is just the right size, I can sketch with the tip and it's small enough to fit in my travel gear. Both SAA and Jackson's in the UK have them.

    1. As I was looking for the most opaque versions of a range of colours, and single pigment where possible, I’ve ended up with mostly Schmincke, some Da Vinci and one M.Graham, I can add the details if that’s of interest.
      I’ve seen that gorgeous brush and it’s on my radar. Nearly bought in in Porto but decided it was bigger than I really needed but it’s so desirable. They have another version with the silver top in a fertile style too. Such excellent brushes!

  2. Good day Jane.

    As far as I'm concerned, the only brands that make gouache in the form of hyperconcentrated watercolors (or as what I regard as the premium-grade) and without the addition of whiteners are: Holbein, WN, Schmincke Horadam, & M. Graham...I don't know about Da Vinci, but the 4 mentioned above definitely use the same mineral pigments as in their professional watercolor range. Personally, Holbein is the best for my style (it doesn't crack as easily as WN when applied very thickly), although to be fair, only these 2 brands are presently available at art supplies shops here in the Philippines (Schmincke Horadam and M. Graham were only available online).

  3. What palette are you keeping the Gouache in?

    1. It is called a Herring Compact and this is the full pan version (there is also a half pan version), with the thumb hole filled in. Available from the UK from and Ken Bromley.

  4. For the brands that you mentioned like M Graham, Schmincke, and Da Vinci, how did you find out that they are just concentrated watercolor? If they really are, does that mean I could buy the gouache to use as watercolor without any weird effects like opaqueness and chalkiness, and does this mean they will last longer than watercolor? Or is this too good to be true?

    1. I have to trust the manufacturer's website information as far as the addition of fillers or binders is concerned. The brands mentioned, and W&N, apparently all sue no filers or chalk. Which means the gouache behaves more like watercolour. Used very diluted it is very much like watercolour, but often cheaper and in larger tubes.

      Traditional gouache with chalk is more opaque and dries very flat - that's one of the reasons designers used it - and reactivates if dampened. So you also get different properties. I like the fact that the ones I've chosen are more water-coloury. But I choose more opaque pigments to get the greater opacity that I'd be wanting in a gouache.

  5. I love the holbiens line of gouache! I was wonder if you had the chance yet to try them out? They are more opaque then m. Graham but they don't use any chalk and look like winsor gouache but are more saturated!

    1. I haven't tried them. I'll add them to my list to try to test some time...

  6. Did you find it necessary to add glycerin to the M. Graham Gouache to get it to rewet? If so, how many drops of glycerin would you recommend per full pan?

    1. I find it helpful to add a little glycerine to nearly all gouache in order to set them up in a palette, though less for M.Graham. I add between 1 and 3 drops to each full pan, in about three layers. After the first layer, you can get an idea of how much you need to add to the rest.

  7. So generous of you to share your references here for others to refer to. Thanks Jane. :)