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Can You Use Gouache Paint on Fabric?

Gouache paint is great for all sorts of projects, but sometimes you need to mix it with other paints in order for it to adhere to the surface.

Gouache paint can be used on many surfaces, including some DIY clothing. But, can you use gouache paint on fabric? On its own, you cannot use gouache paint on fabric. This is because gouache paint won’t stain the fibers of the fabric. However, you can mix gouache with acrylic paint. Blending gouache with other painting mediums is the only way that you can use it with fabrics.

If you don’t mix gouache with acrylic paint, or any other medium, since gouache is water-based it will simply peel off or wash out when you expose the fabric to water. Luckily, the paint is easy to blend with other mediums, making it an easy fix.

If you want to use gouache on fabric, you do have options. You can purchase gouache that is fabric friendly like this Arteza Gouache Paint Set. I have personally used this set, and the colors come out amazing!

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Gouache Paints Options

Acrylic Gouache

Certain gouache brands are already designed to be used on fabrics. These acrylic gouache paints will already be mixed with other ingredients, namely acrylic paint, making them suitable for a variety of other materials, such as fabric, wood, or canvas.

This Turner Acrylic Gouache Set is ideal if you’re looking for an already mixed paint.

The benefit of selecting a pre-made fabric-safe gouache is that it takes away any guesswork about proportions or quantities.

Mix Gouache Yourself

You can also try to mix a fabric-safe gouache yourself. The best way to do this is to mix the gouache with acrylic paint. These two paints mix well because they are both water-based.

Of course, you will need to think about color mixing in order to get the correct pigment. I recommend using this Arteza Acrylic Paint set for mixing.

Try and mix a small amount of paint, or even mix colors to get that perfect color you want. I always recommend mixing the paint on a palette and trying a sample area before you start your main project. That way, if you don’t like how the color looks, you can always alter it.

Does Gouache Paint Stain?

One reason that gouache is a favorite among parents and school teachers is that the paint does not stain. Because it is water-based, the paint easily mixes with water, allowing the pigment to be lifted off the initial surface. This includes paper, fabric, and skin.

If you need to stain a particular surface, gouache paint is not the best option. Any time it is exposed to excess water or humidity, the pigment will lift off the surface.

There are ways that you can seal gouache paintings, however. This will essentially lock in the color, preventing moisture from affecting the painting. Sealing gouache paint typically only works with painted pictures on paper.

If you are looking for a kid friendly gouache paint kit, this one here by Happlee is my go to. It’s great for beginners and kids, and of course non-toxic.

Even though gouache paint on its own won’t stain, however if you mix gouache paint with acrylic paint, the paint will stain. This is because acrylic paint stains, not because gouache stains. Mixing gouache with acrylic will give you the opportunity to stain a variety of surfaces while using this water-based paint.

Does Gouache Dry Fast?

Gouache paint dries very quickly. Unlike oil paints, gouache gives you a little time to work with the wet material. Luckily, the paint can be rewetted, allowing you the opportunity to fix the painting in case of mess-ups.

To fix any mistakes, let the painting dry. Once again, this will not take very long. After the painting has dried, simply dampen a brush, and applied the damp brush to the area you want to fix. This will lift off the color, much as it would with watercolors.

Speaking of watercolors, it is important to note that gouache does not dry as quickly as this other water-based painting medium. This is simply because you layer on gouache much thicker than you would watercolor. In fact, you apply gouache much like you would a heavy body acrylic.

Applying it too thin causes the paint to fall off after it dries. At the same time, do not apply the paint too thickly, or else the paint may crack when it dries. Either way, gouache paint dries much quicker than acrylic and oil paints, but it dries slightly slower than watercolor.

Are Gouache Paints Waterproof?

As we have mentioned already, gouache paints are waterproof. Because they have a water base, they are water-soluble. This means that the painting pigment will lift off the page whenever exposed to water. This includes accidental spills, intentional damp brushes, or excess humidity in the air.

Benefits of Water-Soluble Paints

The fact that gouache paints are water-soluble comes with several benefits. For example, the paint does not stain on its own, making it a great option for children or messy painters. It also means you do not have to worry about ruining your clothing or carpet when painting with this medium.

Another benefit of water-soluble paint is that they tend to be less toxic than paint options that are not water-soluble. That is because fewer chemicals and toxins are needed to create the paint. The base is made of water, which is completely safe for all humans.

How to Waterproof Gouache

Luckily, there are ways to waterproof gouache if you need to use it on a different material or you want to protect your painting. Generally speaking, there are two different ways to waterproof gouache.

The first way to waterproof gouache has already been mentioned. Simply mix this paint with acrylic paint like this set, so that it is not as water-soluble anymore. This is a good option if you do not want to invest in additional varnish or you want to paint on fabric.

If you want to waterproof a gouache painting that was painted on paper, you can also apply a layer of varnish. The varnish will seal the water-soluble paint, essentially making it waterproof.

I highly recommend Krylon Varnish Sprays. I use them for all paint projects. They offer great protection against chipping and flaking. I spray one good layer, but if you want a deeper cover, two is also fine. It will need to dry for about 5-10 hours.

Finally, add a removable varnish. The removable varnish allows someone in the future to remove this layer and replace it without damaging the actual painting. This is a great option for professional painters who want their works to last many years.

Final Thoughts

If you do not mix gouache paint with another painting medium, you cannot use it on fabrics. However, you can mix gouache with acrylic so that it sticks to the fabric material. If you do not want to mix the paint yourself, you could always purchase acrylic gouache at the store instead.

Once the gouache is mixed with acrylic, the paint will stain the fabric. This is great for thick fabrics, such as canvas. If you want to paint on a thin fabric, such as a T-shirt, it is better to opt for fabric paint instead.

Don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!

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