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Gouache Paint

Charlotte Park
Untitled (Green, Yellow, and White) , c. 1955
Gouache on paper
45.7 x 61 cm (18 x 24 in.)
© Estate of Charlotte Park, courtesy of the artist’s estate and Berry Campbell Gallery, New York

Gouache paint is a water-based paint that is opaque and dries quickly, allowing for faster layering and building up of color, as well as giving opportunities for covering up any mistakes. Gouache paint can be used on a variety of surfaces, such as paper, cardboard, or illustration board, giving artists flexibility in their choice of medium. These unique properties of gouache paint make it a popular choice for fine artists looking to create dynamic and expressive work.

The main differences between gouache paint, oil paint, and acrylic paint lie in their composition, properties, and techniques for use. Gouache paint contains a binding agent, making it non-transparent and ideal for creating detailed, flat washes of color. Oil paint , on the other hand, is made from pigment suspended in oil, resulting in a slower drying time but allows for blending and layering of colors. Acrylic paint is a water-based paint like gouache paint. It dries quickly and is flexible when dry. It can be applied in thin or thick layers and is highly versatile, allowing for a diverse range of effects to be achieved.

Gouache paint has evolved, with many variations available nowadays, such as acrylic gouache paint, also known as acrylic matte, which is a water-resistant version of gouache paint that dries to a matte finish. This type of gouache paint is made with an acrylic binder instead of the traditional gum binder, which gives it the ability to be layered and reworked without disturbing previous layers. Another type of gouache paint is watercolor gouache paint, which is more translucent and allows the paper to show through, similar to watercolor. It is popular among artists who want to achieve a delicate and transparent effect. In addition, there are hybrid gouache paints that combine the properties of both gouache paint, watercolor, and acrylic paint, offering artists a wide range of options to choose from, depending on what kind of aesthetic characteristics they want to present.

Marcel Dzama
Dark Before the Bright Exit, 2018
Gouache, ink, graphite, crayon, and collage on paper
92.7 x 167 cm (36.5 x 65.8 in.)
© Marcel Dzama, courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Los Angeles

Gouache paint has a rich history of use by artists, especially by the 20th century American abstract artists such as Charlotte Park, Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko, and Sonja Sekula experimented with gouache paint, incorporating it into their practice to create vibrant, patterned compositions and intense colors that emphasized expression and atmosphere.

In contemporary art, painters who aim to achieve meticulous and detailed expressions often prefer to use gouache paint. Canadian artist Marcel Dzama uses gouache to create detailed and whimsical drawings and paintings that often incorporate elements of surrealism and folklore. Korean artist Jihee Kim also uses gouache paint in her work, as it is the most effective medium to bring her drawing techniques to the surface in her paintings. Kim's artistic practice began with drawing, which remains an important aspect of her painting that serves as the foundation, and the versatility of gouache paint is used to achieve the highest quality in the finished work.

Related categories


Landscape Painting




Color Field Painting

Works on Paper

American Abstract Expressionism


Lyrical Expression


Acrylic Paint

Smooth and Flat Surface

Oil Paint

Gestural Abstraction

Acrylic Gouache Paint

Soft and Meticulous Brushstrokes