Retro Gansai Sets With Maria Ines Gul

Can you tell us a bit about how you have used the retro paint sets?

At first working with these unusual colour palettes put me out of my comfort zone but it ended up being an extremely fun process. After a couple of experiments with textures, I picked four ideas from my sketchbook and created illustrations for each set of paints. I often find limitations like a narrow number of colours extremely liberating, 8 shades feel just right for me. 

How would you describe painting with the gansai paints? Do they feel different to the standard watercolours?

The gansai paints are just my cup of tea! In my work I like to mix different watercolour and gouache textures, meandering between the delicate washes and super thick opaque block shapes. I was shocked to discover that these paints can magically do both. I love how deliciously pigmented they are. These paints are definitely thicker and more chalky than traditional watercolours, but with just the right amount of water they can create rich and dreamy watercolour washes. The sets have the cutest packaging, a real eye candy on my desk.

How do you pick your subject matter for a painting?

Everything usually starts with a feeling, sometimes I like to pick a line from a song’s lyrics / poem as a starting point. Women definitely play a central part in most of my work. I have recently discovered that I really, really enjoy painting fabulous hairdos.

Is there a style of painting/particular artists’s work that you admire?

Oh, I am definitely obsessed with the artistic group formed by Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Enid Marx & co. For a brief period during the 1920s they all studied together at the Royal College of Art under Paul Nash, I was so ecstatic to find that out as a student there almost a hundred years later. 

The new retro sets are based about the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s - can you figure out which set matches each decade?

Ok this was tricky but I think I might have figured it out (correct!)

The gold & silver one must belong to 1920s
Browns, army green and pale yellow 1930s
Burgundy, emerald green & browns 1940s
Teal & Lilac 1950s

Which of the of the new retro paint sets do you prefer? 

I love them all but definitely gravitated towards 1950s - has the most perfect mint green, red, pink and lilac. The neutral shades of grey and brown there are also spot on. I often use signature colour combinations in my work (gansai MIG set, anyone?), it always feels like such a celebration whenever I can find good pastel or muted shades of already mixed paint. This way I can always jump straight back into the perfect shade when I paint.

If you could travel back in time which decade would you like to visit the most? 

1920s or 1960s

Which are your 5 ‘desert island’ art supplies from Choosing Keeping?

Zeichenblock pad, I will never ever shut up about this paper
Palomino pencil for sketching
Gansai paints
Scented ink, for love letters
Wrapping paper, adds a coat of magic to any present