Artist Palette Profile: Kelley Vivian

One of my favorite gouache artists is Kelley Vivian, who paints gorgeous nature scenes typically in New England settings. She has painted numerous National Parks across the US, but her local park, like mine, is Acadia in Maine, and I just love her homey-looking Maine landscapes and seascapes, complete with lots of evergreen trees and rocky beaches. I especially like the way she treats golden hour and sunset light, with glowing sunlight flashing through the trees. 

Kelley’s work was an inspiration to me picking up gouache, and I consulted her site when choosing my gouache palette. Here’s what I learned.

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Finding Lightfast Gouache Pigments

As I transition from a watercolor-only artist to watercolor-and-gouache, I’m finding that it’s harder to find lightfast pigments in gouache, even in professional/artist lines. I love Holbein and Winsor & Newton’s gouache, but I’ve seen so many pigments in their lines with super-low ASTM lightfastness ratings – not just the typical fluorescents (which are also much more widespread in gouache), but stuff like PR1 or PR60 that are uncommon in watercolor because they’re notoriously fugitive. What gives?

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What’s the difference between Titanium White and Zinc White?

White is a really important color in gouache, and I defaulted to Titanium White until I started reading some interesting opinions online about Zinc White. It seems that Titanium White is more opaque and better for highlights and stars and things, but Zinc White is supposed to be a better mixing colors – to make nicer pastels.

So I got myself a tube of Zinc White gouache and tested out pastels made from Titanium vs Zinc with all my gouache colors.

Titanium White vs Zinc White gouache

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Lessons from Ruth Wilshaw’s Classes

I recently took a pair of classes by Ruth Wilshaw on Domestika: Atmospheric Landscapes in Gouache and Fantasy Landscapes in Watercolor & Gouache. Without spoiling everything in the classes, I wanted to keep my notes on what was personally meaningful to me.

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