Traveling and Painting with Opaque Gouache and Watercolor for the Busy Artist

Each year, my busy art career takes me to near and far away places. Ironically, I oftentimes find myself with little or no time to plein air paint.

plein air convention, Eric Rhoads, Lori McNee

Eric Rhoads and Lori McNee at  Eric’s Plein Air Convention in Santa Fe, 2018

Lori McNee at plein air convention, water-mixable oil paints

Lori on stage demoing painting with water-mixable oils.

That is why I am really excited about traveling with opaque gouache and watercolor paints, and a watercolor sketchbook!

Let me explain.

I love plein air painting, but I don’t always have the time to set up my pochade box or easel. And, although I bring my camera when I travel, I’d rather be painting…

Scott Gellatly product manager Gamblin Artist Colors

I’m always on the lookout for the latest, most convenient plein air painting gear and set-up. Recently, while at the Plein Air Convention in Santa Fe, New Mexico I learned a time-saving, plein air painting tip from artist, Scott Gellatly. Not only is Scott the Product Manager for Gamblin Artist Colors, he is also a talented artist.

Like me, Scott is on the road a lot. But recently, Scott discovered a simple plein air painting system for the busy artist using only opaque gouache and watercolor paints. I was so impressed with his beautiful watercolor sketchbook which was filled with gorgeous, little painting gems!

I thought you’d enjoy discovering what I learned about opaque gouache and watercolor from Scott Gellatly, the Gamblin Man...

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As painters, it’s safe to say that we’re always painting. Or, at least thinking about painting. We’re constantly looking at light, color and form. As a plein air painter, in particular, I’m always aware of the landscape around me – especially when I’m traveling.

opaque gouache and watercolor

The pace of travel is not always conducive to setting up my oil painting gear and spending a couple hours on a painting, however. This is where the practice of traveling with gouache and watercolor comes into play.

opaque gouache and watercolor

Though I’m an oil painter to the core, I’ve enjoyed working with water colors for years. My interest in this medium was rejuvenated about a year and a half ago during a family trip to Kauai.

Spending 15 – 20 minutes on a small painting is certainly more compatible with family vacations and I’m able to satisfy my desire to paint, while not abandoning my family. opaque gouache and watercolor

In a slight variation to using watercolors exclusively, I incorporate a few tubes of opaque gouache into my process. This makes the technique and resulting paintings more akin to my oil painting.

opaque gouache and watercolor

oil painting, opaque gouache and watercolor

Oil painting from gouache study

My palette in oils is based around a split primary palette, incorporating both opaque and transparent colors.

opaque gouache and watercolor

Generally, I try to stick with the approach of using transparent darks and opaque lights in my  oil painting, which broadens the value range of the work and contributes to the sense of depth.

In addition to my travel set of transparent watercolors, I include titanium white, cadmium yellow light and cadmium orange in gouache.

Yes, I will occasionally use these small paintings as inspiration or studies for larger studio oils.

However, as Emerson said, “The reward of a thing well done is having done it.”

To me these paintings are complete – no matter how small they are or how long they took me to paint.

Guest artist/author: Scott Gellatly

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PS. Lori’s new DVD and video, Luminous Landscape Painting with Lori McNee is NOW AVAILABLE. Click the link to learn more.

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