Holbein Acryla Gouache is an opaque and highly-pigmented acrylic paint which dries to a velvety-matte finish. The Acryla colours are very popular with designers and artists, who love their superb quality.
The first thing to clear up is – what is acrylic gouache? Firstly it is acrylic paint. It is a very specific type of acrylic paint with very particular characteristics, so it was given this special name. Acrylic gouache is creamy, opaque, matte acrylic paint. The opacity means it has excellent coverage, the acrylic binder means it is waterproof when dry, so you can over-paint it without smearing and the matte finish gives a velvety surface. Like acrylic it also sticks to many surfaces with great adhesion, so is a good choice for painting sculptures in most materials.
Holbein Acryla Gouache
Holbein Acryla Gouache is an opaque and highly-pigmented acrylic paint which dries to a velvety-matte finish. In terms of handling and mixing, it behaves like traditional Gum Arabic gouache (which is opaque watercolour), but because it is made with an acrylic resin binder, it is water-resistant once dry. This facilitates layering, as fresh paint layers can be laid down without the risk of bleed-through from the lower layer. Acryla Gouache dries quickly, in 20 to 30 minutes. Because it dries very quickly on the palette as well and because it peels off the palette easily when you are washing up – be aware of placing fresh paint on the spot of dried paint. As you wet it you can lift the dried paint into the wet paint with your brush and you will have pieces in your smooth paint. Unlike watercolour and acrylics there is minimal colour-shift from wet to dry; what you see wet is the same as what you will have once the paint has dried. It is creamy straight from the tube – if you wish it to be a bit more fluid use caution when adding water, as it gets fluid quickly, you may just want to use a wet brush. The Acryla Gouache can be mixed with water to create washes, though it will lose some opacity and therefore may appear streaky.
With head offices in Osaka Japan, Holbein Artist Colours was formed over 120 years ago, and took the name of the much revered European artist Hans Holbein in the 1930s. From that time, Holbein’s presence has been significant, not only in Southeast Asia, but also in North America, Australia and Europe. Holbein colour chemists, using only the finest pigments available, have achieved the highest standards of quality control in the industry, working to precise standards at each stage of the manufacturing process. The result is unerring consistency from production run to production run. Holbein are unique in the art material trade because they do not produce any entry level/student quality colour products; each of their colour ranges is adapted to meet the special requirements of the professional/serious artist with permanence, brilliance, and technique in mind.
The colour range of 109 colours of Holbein Acryla Gouache is available in 20ml tubes plus two blacks and two whites are also available in 40ml tubes. The colour range includes a small group of metallics, CMYK Primaries and Luminous colours. In addition to single tubes there are five sets available.
Artists Painting with Holbein Acryla Gouache
Some experienced UK-based artists have tried these great paints for the first time and given us feedback on what they were like to paint with.
“As someone who primarily uses acrylic paint and acrylic ink, I was very interested to try these acrylic gouache paints to see how they compare and the different properties that they would have.
Firstly, the texture of the paints was very smooth and fluid, thinner in consistency than the buttery, heavy body acrylics. This made them very easy to use undiluted but I was concerned that this would mean that they wouldn’t be as opaque as I would like. I was pleasantly surprised that when not thinned down with water, they were very opaque, which really opens up possibilities when painting, such as adding highlights and details towards the end. You can see from my test that the white and yellow were slightly less opaque but a further layer of paint would sort that out.
The fact that they are acrylic gouache means that they are fairly permanent when dry, whereas traditional gouache is reworkable. I thought this would be a disadvantage but actually you have quite a long period of time when you can still rework the paint and it is only when you leave it to dry for a long time that it becomes more permanent. Obviously, you need to bear this in mind when they are on your palette as it can make them difficult to clean off at the end. I found that they worked very well on my stay-wet acrylic palette, which is great as then there was no wastage. The colours where very pigmented and were easy to mix. Although only having the 3 primaries plus white and black in this starter set, I found I was able to mix a fantastic range of hues. When thinned with water they created lovely, delicate washes, very similar to watercolour and were not grainy at all. I found the real joy of using them was leaving thin washes in places and building up denser, more opaque layers in other areas as you can see in my woodland path sketch.
I love to sketch tonally, and in this one I wanted to try to use the paints in a slightly thicker manner as I would acrylic paints. I was able to build up lots of layers suggesting the different textures of the path and bushes either side.
In my final sketch, I wanted to use a mixture of thick and thin paint and then use other media over the top to see how the paint would work in a mixed media piece. I used fine line pens and pastels and found that the gouache worked really well with the other media. I’d definitely like to explore this further.
In conclusion, these are lovely, fluid gouache paints which are great for sketches and more finished pieces, either used on their own or with other media. I can’t wait to experiment with them some more!”
See more of Alice’s work on her website.
Jeanne Warren was a runner-up in the inaugural Jackson’s Open Art Prize in 2016. She has also exhibited work in group shows in the Mall Galleries and on Cork Street. She specialises in acrylic painting with a focus on the figure – she paints people she photographs on London streets and she paints portraits.
“For my review on Holbein Acryla Gouache Paint, I chose a rather colourful reference photo to paint from, so I could try a bit of mixing with the five colours I received: sky blue, titanium white, jet black, lemon yellow, and carmine. What I discovered was that the paints mixed very well and I was able to easily achieve the colours I sought. Unlike regular acrylics, which darken as they dry, these particular paints stayed steadfast; no guess work was needed with what one would end up with. I found the colours delightfully bright and highly pigmented and enjoyed the fact that once they dried, no lifting of colour occurred when painting over them.
The consistency of the paint is comparable to toothpaste…rather thick, and yet creamy in texture, opposed to regular gouache paints, which seem a bit “chalky”. I found using a little tiny bit of paint went a long way with its opaque quality. On the other hand, creating a wet wash was very easy to achieve. However, I will admit that I did resort to regular acrylics to paint some of the background as I wanted part of it to have a more “solid” appearance (like watercolours, the acryla gouache had a tendency to appear streaky when using a wet wash when trying to cover larger areas).
Although I prefer acrylic paint, I have worked with all water-based paints (other than egg tempera) and I will say the acryla gouache paint was easy enough to use, although it did take me a couple days to adjust to the difference. After some trial and error, I discovered the best palette to use was a small metal one. If a wet palette is left overnight, one is likely to end up with a watery mess. I found this out the hard way!
In summary, Holbein Acryla Gouache Paints are vibrant and highly saturated, don’t flake or lift when dry, and they give you a beautiful painting or drawing with a velvety matte finish. I truly enjoyed painting with them and would recommend them to anyone who wants to use a gouache paint that has acrylic tendencies.”
Anna Moss is currently studying for an MA in Fine Art at the Arts University Bournemouth. She specialises in painting with a focus on testing the limitations of paint through application and context. Her work often explores layering and collaging images. She explains what this means: “My current work explores social media and image sharing apps as visual databases. I am experimenting with materials, form and imagery to create mediated images that suggest experiencing places and activities we only come into contact with through other people sharing their daily lives online. My work predominantly uses oil paint and I move between realism; highly detailed paintings and loose washes that subtly hint at a location or form. I regularly mix the two styles to create a juxtaposition where sections are instantly recognisable and others require an individual’s memory or experiences to interpret. I experiment with collage and layering to create a temporal experience where things appear to be from different times or locations. I often incorporate sections where different mediums are used such as a varnish or 3D panels built up from layers of primer to push that idea of disparate imagery coming together in one location.”
She told us about trying the Acryla paints: “I think I should start by saying I absolutely love these paints! I was dubious before getting stuck in and experimenting with them, I have never got on with watercolours and was expecting these to have a similar feel. However, these took me completely by surprise. They seem to sit slap bang in the middle between the brilliant colours and opacity of acrylics and the beautiful wash effect of watercolours. They are a “best of both worlds” paint medium. Unlike standard acrylics, the Holbein acrylic gouache holds up to being intensely diluted and somehow still hangs on to its brilliant colour. Even when mixed with copious amounts of water, I still found it easy to layer over other colours. A single layer of the white was opaque enough to completely cover a dark blue ground. The paints are seductively bright and mix really well.”
“On the other end of the scale, like watercolour, these can be thinned out and used to create subtle washes of colour. One of the reasons I am not a fan of watercolours is how easy it is for the colours and washes to become muddy and dull. I did not have this problem at all with the gouache despite mixing, blending and layering these very heavy-handedly, the colours stayed bright and clear. It was easy to achieve that watercolour feel and didn’t end in me tearing my hair out over a soggy mess. These paints are brilliantly versatile and continued to provide great (and surprising) results. Incredibly easy to get on with, these will definitely be my new go to paint when I don’t have the time to sit and watch oils dry or for any work I produce on paper.
I can’t stress enough how much I love them. I don’t think I want to paint with anything else now.”
Acrylic Gouache at Jackson’s Art
Click on the underlined link to go to the current offers on the Holbein Acryla Gouache or all the brands of acrylic gouache on the Jackson’s Art Supplies website.
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