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Gouache[p](//; French: [ˈɡwaʃ]), also spelled guache, is a type of paint consisting of pigment, a binding agent (usually gum arabic), and sometimes added inert material, designed to be used in an opaque method. It also refers to paintings that use this opaque method. The name derives from the Italian guazzo.
Gouache paint is similar to watercolor but modified to make it opaque. A binding agent, usually gum arabic, is present, just as in watercolor. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk may also be present. This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities. Gouache generally dries to a different value than it appears when wet (lighter tones generally dry darker, while darker tones tend to dry lighter), which can make it difficult to match colors over multiple painting sessions. Its quick coverage and total hiding power mean that gouache lends itself to more direct painting techniques than watercolor. "En plein air" paintings take advantage of this, as do works of J.M.W. Turner and Victor Lensner. It is used most consistently by commercial artists for works such as posters, illustrations, comics, and for other design work. Most 20th-century animations used it to create an opaque color on a cel with watercolor paint used for backgrounds, and gouache as "poster paint" is desirable for its speed and durability.
As with all types of paint, gouache has been used on some unusual papers or surfaces.
"Guazzo" was originally a term applied to the early 16th century practice of applying oil paint over a tempera base. The term was applied to the watermedia in the 18th century in France, although the technique is considerably older. It was used as early as the 14th century in Europe.
Interior, St Etienne du Mont, Paris, Charles Louis Lesaint. The Walters Art Museum.
A relatively new variation is acrylic gouache. It is similar to traditional gouache with highly concentrated pigment but, unlike traditional gouache that is tempered with gum arabic, it is mixed with an acrylic-based binder. It is water soluble when wet and dries to a matte, opaque and water-resistant surface when dry. Acrylic gouache differs from acrylic paint because it contains additives to ensure the matte finish and the reworking time of the applied paint is slightly extended. Some brands can sometimes be removed or "lifted" for several hours after application during their drying time.
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