How to use Turner Acrylic Gouache to paint flowers

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How to use Turner Acrylic Gouache to paint flowers

Experienced gouache painter, Pamela Kay, works with Turner Acrylic Gouache for the first time.


Turner Acrylic Gouache paint is a product from Turner Colour Works Ltd of Japan.

What kind of paint is it?

The first clue is in the colour chart. It tells you a great deal. Colours such as mustard, dandelion and spring blue are not normally found on Artists’ paint charts, whether oil, watercolour or conventional gouache.

This shade card is not an orderly succession of tints and hues, working their way methodically through the spectrum.

These vibrant colours are ready mixed, and they vary from brilliant, almost high visibility neon to succulent pastels and delicious pale ice cream colours. Stinging greens, clean and crisp, pearlised pale and deep shades, even, astonishingly, glitter colours are available, all in an immense choice of colours.

The ranges

This is only one of the ranges. Turner Colour Works also produces a ‘Japanesque’ range of acrylic gouache colours. The choice of colours is more select, although still ready mixed and individually identified as sky blue or greyish beige.

There is also a subtle group of metallic colours.

And there’s another clue before you have even unscrewed the cap off the paint. I would hazard a guess that as they are Japanese, beautifully made and exquisitely boxed, as all Japanese products are, they are also the mainstay of the Japanese specialist animation industry.

The flat, matt, brilliant colours that typify computer graphics and animation films seem to be chosen directly from these shade cards, ready mixed.

Perfect for designers

The point is they are designers’ colours, which go that much further into the decorative area of gold, pearl and glitter – and are acrylic. The leaflet that accompanies the paints describes how they are perfect for any surface so they will be a godsend to the craft world, from painted pebbles to wood, metal and card.

I showed the shade card to a friend of mine who is a designer and she was ecstatic to see such intense colours and loved the various spangly, metallic and pearlised shades. In particular, she pointed out the superb grey, as all neutral colours are useful and a good clean grey is very important. This enthusiastic reaction is from a designer, however, and I must now see how they work for a painter.

Trying a new medium

Bear in mind that Turner Acrylic Gouache is very new to me and it necessitated quite a shift in the head just to begin using this medium.

All the work was made with these paints on Artistico cold-pressed 140lb 9x12in. watercolour paper pad.

Working in thin washes

Paperwhite Narcissus, Turner Acrylic Gouache on Artistico cold-pressed 140lb watercolour paper, (23x20.5cm)

I began with a painting of Paperwhite Narcissus (see above), and, as I normally do with gouache, with thin washes of colour. In this case, it was cobalt blue and burnt sienna, describing the greys of the flower heads as they turn from the light.

The paint dries on the plate quickly, so there was no chance to pick up a bit of a previous wash and carry it through to another area. Perhaps I didn’t mix enough up to do this.

The drying time made large washes difficult to control, but meant I could over-paint in opaque colour without too much bleed almost instantly. As I like rough broken washes rather than very flat even ones, all this was not too surprising and gave me licence to use brighter, more intense colour in the greens of the stems and leaves.

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Then things started to become interesting. It felt as if this study could turn from a watercolour into an oil approach, should I want to take it that far.

I decided to leave it there and work on another painting and see what happened.

Using the bright colours

Coffee Cup with Violas, Turner Acrylic Gouache on Artistico cold-pressed 140lb Watercolour paper, (23x25.5cm)

Next, I tried something with more obvious colour. This small study of a coffee cup with violas (see above) was painted in the same way I would if using ordinary gouache, with thin washes of colour again, building up to a solid body colour.

I had to find a new way to mix the deep purple/violet of the viola and mixed Prussian blue and violet to find a deep tone.

The consistency of the paint was strange to me, and I puddled about in thick pigment at first, thinning it to achieve the right colour and tone.

Laying wash upon wash it became apparent that it was impossible to muddy the colour. The washes remained bright and clean – amazing!

Although the pigment dried as quickly on my paper palette, I kept it moving more successfully and, with practice, could pick up remains of mixes before they became part of the palette forever.

With each painting I was discovering more.

Colours which stay true

Clementines in a Silver Bowl, Turner Acrylic Gouache on Artistico cold-pressed 140lb Watercolour paper, (23x30.5cm)

It was during the painting of the final piece, the clementines in a silver bowl (see above), that I realised the major difference between these colours and conventional gouache.

An allowance must be made when using ordinary gouache for the change in colour when dry – the greater amount of filler mixed with the pigment can give a lighter or chalky finish to the work.

The Japanesque acrylic gouache does not change. The strength of hue and intensity of colour remains the same, and layers of glazes can usefully enrich a difficult colour, such as orange, if applied over a completely dry surface, something that is not possible with non-acrylic gouache.

In conclusion

So far, these very quick sketches have colour that has kept fresh and clean, and I’m sure this would be the case for anyone using them. In short, the range of colours that would more likely be used for painting rather than designing – the Japanesque range – has much to commend it: clean, brightness of colour, massive saturation and versatility of use.

With the range of colours available, there should be something for everyone, especially if you enjoy fierce, vibrant colour in your work. Even if it is in a small and select area, like the stems of the paperwhites, where it is possible to enjoy the juicy greens without it becoming too strident.

Would I use them in preference to non-acrylic gouache? Not for my work, yet. I can’t get used to their different handling, but this is something practised acrylic users would take in their stride. In fact, if you are used to acrylic, try them as soon as you can; you are in for a treat!

Turner Acrylic Gouache can be purchased from Jackson’s Art Supplies

Order here

This product report is taken from the June 2013 issue of Leisure Painter

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