The last thing I figured I’d be doing right now is swatching Daniel Smith Gouache – all 22 colors. Or any other brand of gouache! 

I had misconceptions about the medium that, at least at first glance, seem to be very wrong. I’m just at the beginning of this crazy journey though, so stick with me while I learn!

The good folks at Daniel Smith gouache sent me these paints for swatching and painting with – I almost think as a dare. Or encouragement? I’m not totally sure. They do know me well enough to know I’ll try most things, but with my misconceptions about gouache, I’d have said no if they told me ahead of time a box was coming. I didn’t know gouache was so much like watercolor – that you can re-wet and re-activate it. I knew you couldn’t do that with acrylic, so it’s already been a great learning curve!

Tutorial: Paletting and Swatching Daniel Smith Gouache

In this video I’ll be putting together an airtight palette of paints, then swatching the 22 Daniel Smith Gouache colors.

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Airtight Gouache Palette

Once I began researching, I realized the palette was going to be much more important for gouache than for watercolor. With regular watercolor you can just squeeze paint on a plate – doesn’t matter if it dries, it’ll be fine when you re-wet it.

Gouache will re-wet as well – but it changes consistency some when that happens. The “sweet spot” for mixing gouache is just wet enough to move, but thick enough to remain opaque. When pigment is re-wet from a dried puddle of color, it’s harder to get it thick again. From what I read, different brands handle this differently.

I watched a great video by a gal who tested a bunch of airtight palettes. This is the one she came away with as the best to keep paint fresh longest. The one she had was under a different brand name, but that one wasn’t available at the time I shopped, so I picked up this Joybest palette. (I think a lot of companies use the same one and just brand it with their name.)

KEEP THE LID ON IT! I’ve already found it’s best to put a blob of colors to use on the tile and close it up.

Swatching Daniel Smith Gouache

Swatching to see the color isn’t necessary for gouache; the colors in the pan and on the paper are the same. But it’s still a good exercise to do to practice getting that “correct” mix. I tried opaque, semi opaque, then transparent like watercolor – and most of the time I got it right. Ha! Painting with these is much better practice but this is a great exercise for a new gouache artist.

Gouache buzzard card!

Yesterday was the first of my “Friday Fun” card shorts – did you see it? Click here to watch! You can also catch up on the gouache paintings I’ve been posting this week on my Fine Art instagram account.

Is gouache on your want-to-try list?

Right now I’m new enough that I’m not sure I have much to offer for advice. Perhaps pick a warm and cool red yellow and blue plus a black and a white? You can mix them into a lot of other colors! Be prepared that you’ll use more pigment more quickly than when using watercolor – I’m trying not to panic about making it through 31 paintings in January! ha!


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  1. Eliece Edge

    I have been studying calligraphy for about 40 years. Besides ink, we often write with gouache that we mix to the right consistency to flow well through a nib. One of my favorite instructors compared it to the consistency of melted ice cream. I was interested to hear about this palette, hoping that it would keep my gouache mixtures just right. I use a small brush to apply the gouache to the nib. In the past, I’ve found that they have to be remixed after a day or two of being stored, even when using little sealed containers. And black, especially, is prone to mold. I was all set to buy this palette until I read one of the reviews that complained about the gouache molding. I may try it anyway just to see how it does. Calligraphers like to use gouache because inks are more likely to feather on many papers. Have you tried the dried cakes of gouache by Pelikan or Winsor Newton?

    • Sandy Allnock

      I can’t say for sure what this palette will do – but as I only need it to get me through the month, and it’s so cheap, I figured it’s worth a try so I have all the colors out to be able to play with mixes at will without always digging around to squeeze paint every day. I wouldn’t think it would work for what you’re looking for, but as with what I’m doing, it might be cheap enough to be worth a try. I didn’t find ANY palettes that won’t eventually mold – thats the nature of paint that is trying to stay wet. Just mix what you need and don’t let it wait around. 🙂


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