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I learned about goauche resist, first, from Art Pearl’s site about a year ago. I have done several. It is a lengthy procedure but well worth the time spent due to the interesting images that can be created with it.  I took the time to outline the procedure in the event that someone would like to try this.

The above is the drawing  from a photo of two gorillas I found on wet canvas.  I thought it would lend itself well to this technique.  I have used Arches 140lb coldpress paper for these but see no reason why rough or hot press could not be used. I do think it demands 140lb paper because it takes a beating in the process and lighter papers may not hold up.

In the second step I ” LIGHTLY!” wash in some color. This aids in the application of gouache to the surface because it helps you to see where you have applied it. If you don’t do a light underpainting, first,  you will need to continually tilt the work in order to see where you have painted the gouache.

The third step involves applying white gouache to the portions of the painting that you do not want ink to settle into. I used permanent white gouache and added enough water to it so that it was creamy, not pasty. Too watery and you may not get enough coverage.  This is the lengthiest step. I allow this to completely dry before going on to the next step (several hours, if not overnight). 

The next step is to cover the entire piece with waterproof black ink. I use a large, soft, flat brush, reserved for ink, in order to not contaminate my watercolor brushes. I start at the top and work down the piece ensuring good coverage. I “DO NOT”  dip this brush in water during this part of the process as it will weaken and lighten the ink and possibly lift some of the gouache.  Be patient and don’t stroke over and over the resist with ink while it is still wet as this may also cause some of the gouache to lift.  I then allow this application to completely dry. The ink I use is fairly thick, so drying time for this stage is longer than for the gouache stage.

After the ink is completely dry, several hours to overnight, I wash the piece under water and gently stroke the surface with a sponge. This washes off the gouache and the ink where it was applied. I have found that you can decide where to stop with this stage. More scrubbing reveals a lighter resist.  Once again, wait until this stage completely dries before applying watercolor.

   finished painting

I then paint the resist with watercolor. There is some back and forth with lifting and layering as some of the ink does run off into the paint leading to a more opaque or grayed-out appearance. 

I think what I like best about these is that it offers, yet again, a different look to works than had I simply painted this image start to finish.

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53 Comments

  1. Wow what a great look, but I’m completely ignorant of the technic. I’m so ignorant on different technics and items to use in these technics. I guess that’s why we have great artist as yourself! Thanks for all your teachings.

    • You are definitely not ignorant, Ryan. These are some of the things we do in watercolor plus class. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Of course the final piece is fantastic, but Gorillas5 is amazing, mind blowing!! You have to look really close to figure out the second Gorilla!! Awesome Leslie!!

    • You raise a great point. If this was not to be used as the finished example for my class, I may have left this one in stage 5. I, too, liked that one, Rachana! Thank-you! 🙂

  3. The painting looks so dynamic with an abstract feel. Your explanation on the process is clear. It helped me to refresh the memory. 🙂

    • That is what I think makes these so much fun.You never know what you are going to get to work with. I am so glad you originally described this process, Raji. You rock! Thank-you! 🙂

  4. Intriguing – what a process and what a product. I, too, loved the search for the second gorilla. It’s the ‘suggestion’ that I appreciated, but the colour is very welcome. Two different results, really.

    • Thank-you, Amy. I kind of like the effect of the series from drawing to finish with the gorilla that is in the back. From stage to stage she was sort of a “now you see me, now you don’t figure”. I chuckle because in some families that is what the woman is really doing, dashing off to do this and that and keep up with juggling job, house and children! In the final take, they are a little imposing, but what can I say! They are gorillas! 🙂

  5. Wow, Leslie, this is a really exciting process. I like the look. It is rather stylized and gives a completely different quality and feel to the painting. Thank you for the explanation. It is very clear and helpful. And I am so impressed that you are able to maintain such lovely “unmuddied” color.

    • Oh, believe me, Linda, I got muddy! The background was done all at once in the painting stage and ink came off and totally muddied that area. After it dried, I re-wet it and lifted out tons with paper towels. I then went back in and washed color, throughout, a second time. You will see, if you ever try this, that the watercolor does not spread like it usually does and that the colors are a little more opaque. Raji and I think that may be due to the gouache that may still be in the fibers of the paper. Thank-you, Linda! 🙂

  6. The Gorilla painting is really great but the technique is more amazing. I think you inspire me to try it out, i really like the outcome of it. It’s so unique and different as compare to conventional watercolors. Wow..i think i will try it out. Thanks for sharing Leslie.

    • This is something fun to just be doing something different, I think. I like how it comes out looking like a block print. Be patient with yourself during the painting stage, Francis as the paint looks opaque and ou may have to play with areas, lift and try again. That is why Raji’s and my finished paintings look somewhere in between a gouache and watercolor. Oh, do try it! Thank-you, Francis! 🙂

  7. Amazing! I wondered where you were going with this and the finished work was worth the ride. The painting also envokes the feel I get from some African textile prints. Well done.

    • Thank-you for pointing out about the African textile prints, Al. I was a little bummed with the darkness of the paint applications when it mixed with the run-off ink on this one, but it does look African. See why I blog? It helps SO MUCH to have new and fresh vision.

  8. You are right Leslie – this technique IS worth taking time with! The finished painting speaks for itself! I love these step by step procedures – its like having a masterclass! Thanks!

    • You are so kind, Lynda! I think the time element is why I have waited a year to do some more of these. I really like the block print look to them. Thank-you!

  9. What I can say! I only wish I was there next to you, observing how you did it, it would have been quite an experience!

    • For the rinsing part of the project, Padmaja, I had to go outside to the hose because I had made the piece too large for rinsing in the sink. That would be great if we could paint together! Thank-you, Padmaja!

  10. Oh man….. I need more hours in my day! This looks like something I would really love! It is like a block print, but better! I really have to try this!

    Your gorillas are amazing! I have a really tough time making gorillas look right. I can see this method with architecture! YAY!! Thanks for this great post, Leslie!!!

    • This would be awesome with architecture, Beth! This process lends itself really well to small works, also. I imagine you could set aside a few drawings at a time to gouche and ink in and have setting off to the side. Check out Sonia’s tutorial here: http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/17097/662/index.php
      Thank-you for the comment, Beth!

  11. Wow impressive Leslie. All you’re hard work has really paid off. This is such a fabulous piece of art.

    • Thanks, Chloe! Notice all the little black shapes in the background? 🙂

  12. This is great Leslie, it reminds me of the black scarper boards. Brilliant stage-by-stage narrative and I too love each step as a work of art on their own.

    • The stages are really interesting while doing these, I agree. I always get a little excited right before I begin washing off the ink. It is hard to be patient waiting for it to dry. Thank-you, Keith!

  13. Fantastic technique! And what’s more important it is so well suited for the subject. Very impressive result! Must try it soon…

    • I think you would have a blast doing one of these. They are so different! Thank-you, Alex. 🙂

  14. Hi Leslie, I remember you talked about this before but I think now I understand the process.

    The point where the piece is almost just black and white looks like a linoleum cut to me.

    Very cool process.

    • Have you ever cut into small pieces of linoleum for stamping in watercolor. I bought the little pieces and tools to do that but have not taken the time to try it. I agree. It does look like a linoleum cut. Thank-you, Carol! 🙂

  15. I keep staring at each layer of this work and have to echo others comments about the 5th image…it’s just amazing. But your final touches have such depth that’s where I land, of course. You’ve quite a gift for combining colors in ways that reach deep. As usual, your work here is a feast for the soul. So glad for your presence!

    • I looked at that fifth image again and there is something about it. I agree with the elusive second gorilla being a teaser in that image. However, I also wondered if it was attractive because it allows others to finish this piece in their mind’s eye with colors of their own. There is quite a bit discussed, in art, about not insulting the intelligence of the viewer and giving them something to finish on their own. Thank-you, so much JRuth! I absolutely am in awe of what you wrote in your most recent post: http://jruthkelly.com/2010/11/16/higher-and-higher/

  16. That’s it !! I’m quitting my job and moving closer !!! 🙂
    Seriously, Leslie, this is so interesting! I had never heard of it. And your gorilla is stunning! You are just amazing !

    • Oh!!!! I’m going to put out my best welcome mat! Wouldn’t that be fun?
      The other day, I was thinking how interesting this could be combined with collage, also…. The process is longer than can be used for a muse class, but small ones, done ahead of time could be used? I think my favorite thing about this is that, with each step, the artist is faced with new challenges and has to find ways of expressing the herself through the changes that occur. Thank-you, Isabelle! 🙂

  17. Hi Leslie. The finished painting echoes a woodcut print for me. Interesting treatment of their eyes–and how you’ve conveyed energy. !!!

    • I agree about it looking like a block print. Ah. I really disliked this piece when I finished it, but as the days have gone on, I am seeing it with different eyes. There is an honesty in this image and I do think it stems from the eyes. How interesting you saw something there, also. Thank-you.

  18. What a process, Leslie. Your explanation is crystal clear, too, so anyone should be able to duplicate the process, although probably not your excellent results. I think I would lack the patience for something so complicated, but I am becoming more patient as I age.

    • Hi Kate….You are right. This one takes some patience. I like them because it takes some control out of my hands and there are surprises to deal with. Thank-you!! for the visit and the comment.

  19. You explain the process so clearly, Leslie!
    I’ve thought of doing watercolors from time to time. Now you got me considering it again. 🙂
    The piece is fabulous!!

    • This is a rather fun one to play with watercolors because the pigment doesn’t respond the same way on the gouached, inked and scrubbed paper. Thanks, Debbie!

  20. That is a fantastic end result.
    It was cool being able to see how this came together.
    The end piece has come out rather animated, i like that

  21. Thank-you for this comment, Richard. After a few days, I felt the same way. It’s as though they have just turned their heads to stare at the viewer? I didn’t see that as I worked on them, but have seen it since. It is fun to share the stages of something when I can. 🙂

  22. Hey Leslie, I am pretty impressed with this piece! Very interesting technique, I have to confess I’ve never heard of this. You made it look easy!!

    • Thank-you, Frank! This was a technique I picked up from another blogger who had learned about it on wet canvas. I like it because of the interesting block print-like look to them.

  23. Very interesting process, Leslie. Your explanation is sooooo clear!

    • Thank-you, Marinela! This process is sort of like following some of the formats for your poetry, only in ink and paint! 🙂

  24. Amazing all those steps would drive me crazy

    Love the final effect though.

    • 🙂 I know….. Totally time consuming, Richard. The reward is all the interesting things that happen in between, I think. Thank-you! and welcome back!

  25. This is such a fascinating post and technique. I love seeing the different stages of the work in progress. The gorillas are absolutely charming and the process gives the painting a unique look!

  26. i enjoyed looking at every single step. it’s wonderful how your painting looks at various phases. not a single ugly duckling stage :)!

    • Oh, thank-you Ghadah! At first, I didn’t like how they turned out and I propped them up on the mantle in my family room for a few days. They grew on me with his grin and her peeking around him to see the viewer. It was great fun….. 🙂

  27. Interesting. Wish I was brave enough to try it. Love that you do so many animals. 😉

    • Animals are my favorite subjects. Really. Thank you! This is a fun process. Be brave! Dive in! 🙂

  28. Reblogged this on Martha Keim-St. Louis' blog and commented:
    I learned a new beautiful technique from Leslie. Will try soon. Her how to is well done and explained


15 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  12. […] In this technique, we used gouache to coat any area of our painting that would require color later. Once that dried, we coated a layer of waterproof ink over the top and allowed it to dry. Next, we rinsed the entire painting with water (hose is best) to remove the ink from the gouached areas. This leaves a block print-like image. We then paint the white areas once the surface has dried. If you would like to try this, I have explained the process here. […]

  13. […] above two paintings were done by using the gouache resist technique that I have outlined for anyone to try by clicking here. I have always enjoyed this process, even though it is lengthy. I like the rustic block print-like […]

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