Gouache resist, the process

 I have a commission to paint a dog portrait. I thought I'd show you my process. Sketch on tracing paper first. I like tracing paper because I can turn it around, sketch something else and trace it, play with it easily. I did a few thumbnails to get the composition the way I wanted before I drew it full size.
 Next, transfer (with a light box, or sometimes taped to a window) onto 140 lb. watercolor paper, then painting with thick gouache. I use darker colors than they will eventually turn out, as some gets washed off with the ink later. It has taken years of playing to figure this out, and I am still learning...
 More paint, leaving white space...
 ...which will turn black...
 I forgot to take a photo of the inked step, which would be right here.I cover the entire thing with India ink (I like Higgins Calligraphy ink. A few years ago they discontinued Higgins Engrossing, and I went into a panic, buying all I could find, emailing the company,  testing out every other kind out there. It turns out they had just changed the name to Calligraphy ink. I have no idea why.)
...after the inking, I go in and touch things up...this is almost finished, still working on the border, and a bit more texture to the dog's fur. It's been a fun one to paint!


  1. Nice, Kieren,
    That is an interesting technique and I appreciate the step-by-step. How thick must that gouache be to resist the ink?

  2. Thanks, Ashley! Well, I paint pretty thick. Hold it up to the light and if you can see light through the paint, it's too thin.

  3. Very cool - I've always wondered how you do what you do...so is the outer white border painted with white gouache to keep it from inking black, or do you tape that area off?

  4. Yes, Kira, I paint white gouache, leaving a little black border around it all.

  5. You know, I now realize I read this earlier and it must have lodged in my subconscious. Thanks!


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