After I got the SoHo Urban Artist acrylics and saw how good they were for an insanely cheap price, I decided to pick up some of their other products. My next order from Jerry’s Artarama included a box of 120 SoHo Urban Artist pastels (which I’ll review in a later post), and a box of 12 tubs of gouache.
These cost about $10 USD for 12 nice big 40ml tubs. As usual, my first job with the SoHo gouache was to make a colour chart.
These paints are not available in open stock, so what you get in this set of 12 is all there is. Generally I think the colour range is quite good, though I think it would have been better if they’d got rid of sap green or cadmium orange (both colours which could easily be mixed using other paints in the box) and added a phthalo or cerulean blue. The Prussian blue that’s included is a good deep, dark colour, but I’m used to having ultramarine and phthalo (most sets of 12 colours in any medium I get usually include two blues), so I did miss having a phthalo or even a cobalt blue. Still, the pigment concentration is very good, and I was easily able to get opaque coverage using all of the colours, even when I was painting light colours over dark. I also quite liked the earthy colours, especially red oxide. I feel like this set would be useful for landscape sketches or for understudies for soft pastel paintings.
Like most gouache, SoHo gouache dries to a matte finish. It also has enough body that it will hold brush strokes if you want to paint in a more textured style, though really thick layers of paint should be avoided as they won’t dry properly. If you add more water, you end up with a more ink-like consistency, though it’s still quite opaque. Technically you could add heaps of water to make it transparent like watercolour, but if you do that, you might as well just use actual watercolours. No pigment information is listed on the box, and this along with the low price lead me to assume the paints are not lightfast. This means it should only be used in journals or on work that will be scanned and distributed digitally.
When my set arrived, about half of the colours had become ‘dehydrated’; most gouache I have used had the consistency of a fluid acrylic. Some of the SoHo gouache had that consistency, but some were more like a thick modelling paste, and some had dried so much that they were almost solid. When this happens to acrylics, there’s not much you can do but throw them away, but I added a little water to each of the dried tubs of gouache and let it sit for an hour or two. Then I got a palette knife and mixed it all in. Eventually I was able to restore all of the dried tubs to their proper consistency. It was annoying and tedious to do so, but at least it meant I could still use all the paint. I think part of the issue is the tubs themselves; the containers are similar to those little rubbery containers that small poster paint sets come in, meaning they are a bit flexible and the lid has to be bent and almost ‘peeled’ off. Thanks to being knocked and bounced around on their journey here from America, many of my tubs had become sealed shut with paint, and getting the lids of required enough force that some of them stayed slightly bent. As a result, I suspect they don’t have an entirely clean seal so some of the paints are likely to dry out quicker.
This is a little landscape painting I did for fun with the SoHo Urban Artist Gouache. It was one of those paintings where I didn’t really know what I wanted to paint when I started, so I just started slathering paint onto the paper and hoping for the best. I did know that I wanted to go for a sort of surreal/impressionist-type painting, so I didn’t put a lot of thought into it, but I think it came out alright, and it was fun to paint. Also, a number of friends on my social media accounts thought it looked like a fairy floss tree, so who am I to argue?
If you already have any artist grade gouache, the SoHo Urban Artist gouache isn’t going to lure you away from those; in fact, it would probably seem like a downgrade. This set would be a good purchase for a young art student or for someone who just wants to slosh paint around in a journal or whatever. Though the colour range has its limitations, the highly pigmented paints at an insanely cheap price are well worth experimenting with (at least if you’re in America).