I started my gouache journey three years ago when it appeared on a list of recommended supplies when I started art school – I went for Daler Rowney’s Simply Gouache because it was the cheapest I could find.
Throughout the course of art school I, like everyone else, struggled with finding a medium that excited and inspired me.
I dabbled in gouache a few times throughout those three years but really started falling in love with it a couple of months into third year. I just thought it was great because you could use it like watercolour or use less water and have it be pigmented without the plastickiness (yes, that’s a word now) of acrylic. It’s also so much better for doing fine details than acrylic. It’s just great.
Once I knew I wanted to try out more colours and things I came across a set of Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache on Cass Art for £11.95 for a set of 10 (RRP £47.99) and asked Santa for them very nicely. (They are currently at £19.95 and I haven’t seen them cheaper than that since – I think I was very lucky!)
I haven’t looked back since.
So much more pigmented, smoother and just vibrant and beautiful.
However, as a poor student, I couldn’t afford more in different colours or anything and the Turner Acryl Japanesque Colours were recommended to me as a cheap alternative (I got a set of 12 for £8).
Something I didn’t realise at the time but may be worth bearing in mind is that they are acrylic gouache, which dry to a matt finish and aren’t re-wettable, unlike traditional gouache which is re-wettable once it dries in your palette (life saver) and dries to more of a velvet matt finish on paper.
I tried them a couple of times and found them really gritty and strange so they ended up going in a drawer for about six months until recently when I was packing all our things ready to move house and decided to try them out again – and I don’t think I gave them enough credit before.
So I thought I’d do a bit of a comparison/review type post, starting with how they look with varying amounts of water added:
I noticed that the Japanesque paint kind of reached a perfect level of dilution and then became very even in coverage, which you can see in the fourth square along on the bottom row. As the W&N paint requires less diluting to get even coverage, I can see a tube of the Turner Japanesque lasting sightly longer.
I don’t know if you can really see it in this image but the Turner Japanesque Colours (top row) look slightly gritty, and I’m not sure if that’s the case with all acrylic gouaches or just these ones. Also, the colours are less vibrant than the W&N ones, but that may just be the set of colours I bought.
The W&N paints are also a lot thicker straight out the tube, but I find that they really don’t require much water added to make them the perfect consistency to paint with so they don’t lose much, if any, pigmentation.
I definitely prefer the W&N Designers Gouache personally, just because they’re re-wettable which means less waste and less clean-up and the colours are so vibrant and smooth.
However, if you’re on a budget or you want a matter finish, I would definitely recommend the Turner Acryl Japanesque Colour gouaches. Considering they’re the same price, they also make a much better starter set than the Daler Rowney Simply gouaches, in my opinion.
I think with any art materials it’s going to be a case of trying out different things and seeing what suits your work and your budget. If you just start off with one colour from a couple of different ranges and see what works well for you, you can decide what you prefer as they all have their own pro’s and cons. But I’d definitely say give Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache a go!
A quick disclaimer: I didn’t realise until after I bought them but the Ivory Black and Primary Blue in the W&N set I bought aren’t vegan. Winsor and Newton have published a list of their products that contain animal-derived ingredients here.
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any favourites or suggestions for me to try,