Gouache can be expensive, like any other medium, and you don’t want to waste paint! Here are eight easy tips to save money and paint when painting with gouache.
Table of Contents
- Tip #1: Use Less Paint
- Tip #2: Use a Sprayer
- Tip #3: Use a Wet Surface
- Tip #4: Use a Stay-Wet Palette
- Tip #5: Use an Airtight Palette
- Tip #6: Use your Leftovers
- Tip #7: Squeeze your Tubes
- Tip #8: Recover Dry Paint in the tube
Tip #1: Use Less Paint
It may seem obvious, but many people use too much paint when squeezing the tube. Instead, open your tube outside of your palette to prevent dry crumbles on the palette. Squeeze just a small amount of paint and adjust it based on the size of the area you need to paint. This way, you can avoid wasting paint and having a large blob dry out.
Tip #2: Use a Sprayer
Use a sprayer to mist your paint on the palette. Spray just enough water so the paint keeps its creamy consistency. I use a little mister/sprayer (whatever you want to call it) every time I paint. You can also spray the painting for blurry effects, it’s fun to do!
Tip #3: Use a Wet Surface
You can spread your paint on a wet surface. Cut a tiny part of kitchen paper and soak it in water. Remove the excess water and place a sheet of baking paper on top. Tape that and put a blob of paint directly on the baking paper.
You could also squeeze directly on the damp towel paper, but humidity will evaporate very quickly compared to the one under the baking paper. I’ve made tests in the video where you can see how it is improving the drying time of the paint. Adding humidity to your paint lets you keep it fresh and creamy.
Tip #4: Use a Stay-Wet Palette
Consider using a stay-wet palette. If you don’t have a ready-made one, you can make your own by cutting out a towel and placing it in the bottom of a flat, airtight box. Soak the towel in water and remove the excess water. Place your baking paper on top of the wet towel and use it to store your paint.
Or you could buy one, they are meant for acrylics, but work well with gouache paint.
Tip #5: Use an Airtight Palette
You have different types with different well sizes. For my day-to-day work, I’m using this one by Mijello. Between two painting sessions, I squeeze paint inside and store it in the fridge. It’s convenient as you have a mixing tray inside.
For plein air painting, I’ll carry this small one and a mixing palette aside, as it’s so tiny!
No matter which one you’re using, you must spray the paint occasionally, at least once a week.
Tip #6: Use your Leftovers
If you have squeezed too much paint on your palette and it’s dry, you can still use it. Activate the pigments with a spritz of water before painting.
You won’t be able to return to gouache’s creamy consistency, but it’s still usable in more liquid consistencies for backgrounds or first layers.
Tip #7: Squeeze your Tubes
You can use a little tool to squeeze the paint until the last drop to get the most out of your tubes. Choose a metallic one, as the pressure you apply when squeezing may break the plastic ones. I’m using this one:
That works for any kind of tube, like toothpaste, for example!
Tip #8: Recover Dry Paint in the tube
Sometimes the gouache will dry inside the tube. Maybe it’s an old one, or it was exposed to heat. The only way to recover the paint is to cut open the tube, as the core of it will still be fresh. Get the paint and store it in the airtight palette with a palette knife. Beware, it’s messy!
Following these tips can save money and get the most out of your gouache paint. You can get more tips in my class ‘26 gouache hacks‘