Gouache: Art Spectrum Artists’ Gouache (review)

After doing a few artists’ trading cards a while ago, I decided they were a fun way to complete paintings quickly due to their small size, so I ordered a few more packs of blank cards. At the same time, I noticed that the Primary Mixing Set of Art Spectrum gouache was discounted, so I added it to my order.

There are only five colours in the set, but you can mix any colour from the three primary colours plus white and black, so it’s actually a really good tool for anyone interested in learning colour theory and mixing. You don’t need to buy 20 tubes of paint if you can mix all the colours you need from a handful. Here are the swatches for the Primary Mixing Set.

Gouache is known for its opacity and matte finish while still handling like watercolour, and Art Spectrum gouache performs well in that regard. All five colours in my set were opaque and most had a reasonable semi-fluid consistency when I squeezed them from the tube, although the white one had begun to separate from the clear vehicle a little. They also didn’t have the awful gritty texture some brands of gouache have once they’ve been applied to paper. Though White and Black were single pigment paints, the three primary colours were mixtures of two pigments, though multi-pigment mixtures do seem to be more prevalent in gouache than in other artist grade paints. Though lightfastness information is available on the manufacturer’s website (showing that most colours are lightfast aside from some of the reds and violets), the actual pigment information is only available on the tubes themselves. I will say that the colours in this mixing set were very well chosen, as I was able to mix a wide range of natural, muted colours for my sample painting.

The Art Spectrum gouache is significantly cheaper per tube than other artist grade brands (at $7.60 or so for a 22ml tube as opposed to $7-8 for 14-15ml tubes) but unlike brands like M Graham and Winsor & Newton, the Art Spectrum gouache uses very few expensive pigments. Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow are the only exceptions and those are about double the cost of the other Art Spectrum tubes, but other than that, every other tube in the range is the same price. For this reason it’s probably the best option for beginners or those for whom money is tight (I’d also recommend Lukas gouache if you can find it, but I don’t think it’s easy to get outside of America and Europe).

Here’s a little mini landscape I painted from imagination on a Strathmore watercolour ATC.

Art Spectrum Artists’ gouache is a reasonably priced and good quality paint, with all colours providing nice, opaque coverage. It’s also relatively easy to find in most local art stores, so it would be an excellent option for art students who are learning colour theory and/or who want to be able to replace a tube quickly if they use up the previous tube of that colour.

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