18th Century George Romney Portrait Natural Gouache Gum Tempera Paint Set


From the French "gouache" or Italian "guazzo" translating as "muddy pool", in English this type of paint is traditionally known as "body colour" - in essence watercolour with a heavier body, where all colours are rendered with equal opacity. This is achieved with the addition of blanc filler (or barium sulphate) in addition to the gum arabic (and base pigment obviously) usually found in watercolour which helps register a flat and velvety matt finish. Effectively gouache can be thought of as an opaque watercolour, very similar to Japanese Gansai (where pigment is mixed to a white chalk base for opacity). 

As watercolour and gouache formulas are both water based, they can be happily combined for transparent and opaque effect; where gouache is more light absorbing over watercolours reflecting properties. Of course gouache, a water-thinning paint system, can be watered down to produce transparent washes however they will yield less glowing and intense colour than watercolour.

In modern-day mass manufacture, gouaches can be formulated using acrylic polymer emulsions and starch binders which alter the traditional texture to a more flexible dry paint film. In the face of such declining quality two artists, Rebecca Wallace and Pip Seymour, began making paints to their own tastes and recipes looking to emulate art materials from the past, with more variable grain and natural appearance.

With the above notes in mind, we are pleased to offer Pip and Rebecca's unique gouache formula which features the addition of a small oil to emulsify the pigment and lessen any chalky feel to the dried finish. Nevertheless these do not require any turpentine - they can and should be diluted with water only. On drying, the colour is fixed and permanent, and can be used on any art paper or gessoed panel.

For artists with an interest in classical technique, please find here a set composed of original pigments, based on a palette found in the studio of portrait painter George Romney (1734-1802). Such classical painters worked with colours known as pre-mixed tints (flesh colours), which saved time in a portrait sitting. Indeed Romney often undertook up to 12 portrait sittings in one day and thus the careful preparation of pre-mixed tints (normally the work for a studio assistant) was of essential. Like a piano keyboard, these would be laid out in standardised order, usually on a mahogany palette, either kidney shaped or rectangular. The dark background of mahogany was suited the muted dull tone grounds of the age. 

Material: 18 x gouache paint 20ml tubes 
Included: A wooden presentation box
Vegetarian: Yes
Vegan: No (contains honey binder)

Paintbrush Pairing and notes: because Goauche contains extra filler it tends to wear down soft hard brushes more than watercolour and thus sable brushes should be employed with care. Ox and horsehair, which are still soft but stronger are more well suited.

We recommend our Japanese Special Brush as well as brushes No. 1, 2 and 3 from our Premium Japanese range. For laying flat areas of colour, large soft hog hair brushes are ideal. 

When the painting session is over, wash brushes carefully. Paint tends to get lodged in the base of the brush hair, where it meets the ferrule, which can cause the hairs to splay if not washed properly. Hanging paintbrushes upside down for drying can be helpful too to prevent this. 

Glitterings - A bright and creamy tone which is gamboge (a natural pigment derived from the resin of the Garcinia tree; traditionally used to dye monks robes in Buddhist tradition) mixed with barium sulphate, a natural white mineral rather than more commonly used manufactured alternatives. 

Grey - Roman black earth - a volcanic material that creates a warm grey-black; the original paving stones from ancient Rome were in fact made from the same rock - is mixed with white from barium sulphate. 

Pale Grey - A paler shade of the above - more white is included!

Cinabrese - This soft pink-cream pigment is comprised from a mixture of cinnabar and white; cinnabar being a natural mineral pigment and the whites being derived from non toxic sources. 

Yellow Ochre - Ochre refers broadly to a pigment found worldwide, comprised from clay and/or chalk which is tinted by the oxidisation of natural ferric (iron) present in the mineral; one of the oldest pigments in history, the more orange tones such as this are familiar to cave paintings.

Cinnabar - A bright, strong vermillion made from crushed Cinnabar 'strawberries' - mineral deposits found at the Tuscan volcano Monte Amiata. This colour first appears in ancient China and was used as the principal red in painting until the 20th century and the introduction of Cadmium red. 

Ivory black - This natural pigment today is comprised of charred animal bones, it is an ancient pigment familiar as the black in cave paintings. Previously in paint production genuine ivory was calcified; this practice has been phased out due to scarcity of, and ethical associations with, ivory. 

Roundings off - This is a mustard yellow that is made from black and raw sienna - another pigment that has existed since antiquity, this burnt sienna was mined in the 1970s, close to its Renaissance namesake (Siena) at Bagnoli, a Tuscan village in the shadow of Monte Amiata - the quarry is long closed; this particular pigment is finite. 

Terra Rosa - Literally the Italian for ‘red soil’ this pigment is comprised from a red clay produced by the weathering of limestone. This particular pigment is collected from the Sesti Vineyard in the south of Tuscany; the harvest of which is a byproduct of the wine industry.

Lake - This lake pigment is derived from the root of the madder plant and has been around since antiquity. It can be found in ancient Egyptian artwork - commonly found in mummy portraits and cloth dyed with Madder was even found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Touche - A dark, warm brown that is comprised of a mixture of Cinnabar from Mount Amiata and black. 

Roundings - A mixture of yellow ochre and black - dark olive green. 

Pale roundings - A paler version of the above thanks to the addition of white in the mixture. 

Mezzotint - Yellow ochre is mixed with cinnabar and white to create a warm orange-pink flesh tone. 

Quarter - This pink is a mixture of cinnabar, limonite and barium sulphate. Limonite is a kind of ochre which is quarried from Cyprus where it has been mined for many centuries for pigment production.  

Brightling - A pale pink which has the same ingredients of the above with the inclusion of additional barium sulphate. 

Flest tint - This peachy tone is made from a mixture of just a little white into cinnabar.

Bright yellow - Gamboge mixed with white from barium sulphate.