Gouache Test Swatches in Stillman and Birn Gamma Sketchbook

If I wasn’t convinced before, this will do it. My older sketchbook would have buckled like mad with this amount of paint and water, even though it is slightly heavier paper. As well as laying down test swatches, I did a small side border inspired by a segment of a woven tapestry by artist Jennie Moncur that I saw in a library book this morning.


It took me a while to get used to the chalkiness and opacity of the gouache, and I wasn’t able to mix the colour exactly as I wanted, but I like the whimsy of the illustration. Gouache is way heavier than regular watercolours, but charming for illustrations. I could see myself using it for other borders on sketchbook pages.

And that Gamma sketchbook is pretty neat to work in. I had no idea it was going to be this good. In fact I was a bit disappointed in a “Is that all there is?” way when I first opened it and flipped through to bend open the pages and get it lying flat. There really is an excellent quality to the paper that needs to be worked on to understand. I saw a lot of reviews with text samples in different inks, which is important, but if you’re going to draw and paint in it, you will be amazed at how well it handles, even at 100 lb weight.

The blue/back background of the border is quite dark but there is no bleed through with it either. I did notice when I was inking over the image that my Pitt pen didn’t like going over the gouache. I think the paint reconstitutes so easily that the wetness of the pen moistened it enough to clog the pen action somewhat. If I left it for a few seconds it bounced back, but something to remember for future projects. I could probably do a thin coat of Krylon workable fixative. I will try it tomorrow after it has dried well. Update: I sprayed it lightly three times with the Krylon Workable Fixative and it worked well. Instead of a dry, chalky texture the paint now feels smooth, but it didn’t change the colour or make it shiny.



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