Introducing gouache

We caught up with illustrator Francesca McLean ahead of the taster sessions she is offering in working with gouache at Salisbury Arts Centre.

flowers in glass vase illustration.jpg

Please tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m an artist / illustrator based on the outskirts of Salisbury, near the new forest. I am surrounded by natural inspiration which drives me to create new work based on the beautiful countryside we are lucky to have here in the South West. As an illustrator I create original artworks, pattern designs, and my own products, as well as working for clients such as Tall Tree Theatre to create illustrations for branding.

When was your first experience of painting with gouache?

During my MA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts, one of my tutors encouraged me to experiment with gouache, to create bolder colour within my work. I have never looked back! It was a natural progression for me from watercolours, as gouache is mixed with water in the same way, but I fell in love with the beautiful, vibrant colours I could create with this exciting medium, which lends itself so well to illustrating the striking colours within nature I love to portray.

What’s best about gouache?

The aspect of gouache I love is that it allows me to have more freedom than watercolour paints. This is due to the main difference between the two mediums, watercolour is light and transparent, and gouache is bold and opaque. The density of gouache allows you to layer lighter colours on top of darker ones, for example if you wanted to paint a light pink flower on top of a dark green background, the pink would keep its vibrancy. The colours you can create with gouache are excitingly beautiful, and it will spur you on to keep experimenting!

What can participants expect from your Introduction to Gouache taster sessions?

The sessions are designed for beginners, and we will cover various painting and drawing techniques, with the freedom to develop your own style. We will learn about gouache, experimenting with the medium to create different effects, such as layering, reworking dry paint, creating compositions and colour theory. We will create fun compositions, putting what we have learnt into practice to create final pieces which you can cherish at home! The sessions will allow you to build your confidence in this medium.

Using just 3 words, tell us why people should come…

Learn. Grow. Enjoy!

Introduction to Gouache: Taster Sessions run at Salisbury Arts Centre on 6 November and 4 December. For more information visit