If you paint with acrylic paints, you’ve likely heard of gouache. It works like a watercolor with the pigment of acrylic paint, so these two often get mixed up with each other. While these paints are similar in some ways, they are very different in others. For example, acrylic paint is permanent, but where does gouache stand on a permanency level?
So, is gouache paint permanent? Gouache is a water-based paint that is not-permanent. It is super easy to reactivate the paint after it dries to keep working with it and fix mistakes. This makes it a great option for beginners or kids who need more time working on their project to make it look perfect. All you need to do to reactivate is add water!
Since gouache isn’t permanent, what does that mean for your art? If you want it to stay permanent, you need to add a sealant on after the gouache has time to completely cure. This will keep your gouache from being reactivated in the future, so you can’t fix anymore mistakes you notice in the future.
Will Gouache Paintings Fade?
Gouache paints are not permanent, and they are prone to fading. However, the level at which they fade will vary depending on their pigments. Gouache paints are graded with a rating system that helps you understand how much that pigment is expected to fade and when it is expected to fade.
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The highest ratings are AA and A. These will usually be colors that are already light such as Sky Blue or Brilliant Yellow. Gouache paints with a rating of AA or A are not expected to fade, but if they do it will be very minimal.
The next ratings are B and C. These colors are generally darker like Light Purple or Violet. Gouache paints with a rating of B or C are expected to fade slowly over a period of about ten years.
Finally, there is a rating called fugitive. Some pigments in the C rating are also considered to be fugitive, meaning they are transient. These colors are likely to fade incredibly quickly and sometimes within just a few months.
When you purchase your paints, you can look at the tube to figure out what the permanence rating of the pigment is. The permanence rating will give you a solid idea of how long you can expect the paints to last on your painting. To prevent fading as much as possible, you should protect your painting.
Does Gouache Reactivate?
One of the best things about gouache paint is its ability to reactivate after it dries. Whether you are trying to reactivate dried paint in your palette or reactivate it on your painting, you can easily make it happen with a couple of drops of water. You can even reactivate an entire tube of gouache with some water and glycerin.
Gouache Paint Pans are great for reactivating because you don’t need to squeeze any hard paint out from a tube, and it’s similar to reactivating watercolors.
You should always use warm water when you are trying to reactivate your gouache. This will help the pigments break up and make the paint easier to work with much quicker. You also need to avoid using too much water when you are reactivating your gouache because it can ruin your paint or your painting.
Is Gouache Paint Washable?
Gouache paint will not resist water even when it’s dry. This means it is washable and will come off incredibly easy when you are trying to remove it from a surface. You can easily wash off gouache with some warm water and soap. It can also wash off of most surfaces with just a sponge or a damp cloth.
Gouache Paint vs. Acrylic Paint
Gouache and acrylic are so similar that it’s hard to tell what the differences between them are. However, there are some major differences that you need to be aware of when you are choosing which type of paint you want to use for your project.
First, acrylic paint is much more durable than gouache. Acrylic will not fade as easily as gouache and it is water-resistant, so it will not be easily reworkable after it has dried. Gouache paint fades pretty easily and becomes reactivated when exposed to even small amounts of water.
This can be great for artists who like to touch-up paintings after they dry, but frustrating for those who want permanence.
Gouache and acrylic are also made up of different binders. Gouache has gum Arabic as a binder and acrylic has an acrylic polymer as a binder. Acrylic polymer is basically a plastic that allows the paint to be water soluble when it’s wet, but water resistant when it’s dry.
The two paints also dry differently. Gouache paint will dry matte and opaque while acrylics will dry shiny and glossy. You can also use acrylic paints to create texture in your painting, which will be harder to do with gouache paints.
Gouache and acrylic are even different down to the surfaces they can be applied on. Gouache is really only suitable for use on paper, while acrylic can be used on a wide range of surfaces. You can use acrylic on paper, glass, wood, plastic, and many more surfaces.
The largest difference between these two paints is the ability to work with them after they’ve dried on the surface. Gouache can be reactivated and reworked to make changes to your painting as much as you want. Acrylic can’t be reactivated after it has dried on the surface due to the polymer binder that makes it water resistant.
How to Seal Gouache Paint
When you seal gouache paint, you need to first be prepared for how the appearance will change. Adding a sealant to gouache paint can alter how the colors look by causing them to appear significantly darker. As long as you are okay with this, you can add a sealant to protect your gouache painting.
While it isn’t required to seal a gouache painting, that doesn’t mean you can’t. It isn’t always recommended because adding a sealant makes you unable to work with the paint any further. If you know for a fact that you won’t be making any changes, you can apply a water-based sealant to your painting.
One great option for sealing gouache is Mod Podge. It is available in several different finishes and dries quickly. It can also be used on several different surfaces, meaning you can use it as a sealant on surfaces that aren’t paper.
To seal your gouache painting, you first need to make sure it is completely cured and dry. It is best to wait about 24 hours before sealing. You also need to apply the Mod Podge very gently because it can reactivate the paint. If possible, try to find a spray Mod Podge to prevent brushing on the surface and reactivating the paint.
If you do use a brush on Mod Podge, I highly recommend using the Mod Podge Applicator Brush. This ensures your sealant will apply smoothly and correctly.
Before you choose a type of paint to use for your project, you want to make sure you know how long it will last and if it is permanent when dry. In the case of gouache, it is not permanent. Gouache becomes reactivated easily with just a drop or two of water, making it reworkable.
If you want to make the painting permanent, you might want to consider sealing it. It is important to keep in mind that the colors might appear darker after you seal the painting, and you need to apply the sealant gently to prevent reactivating the paint.
Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your gouache painted project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!
To view my personal artwork collection click here. All of my artwork is one of a kind and comes ready to hang. You can also find my work at The Gallery SOHO, in the Pomona Valley Art Association.