Shari Blaukopf is an accomplished painter in both watercolour and gouache. In this very special FREE live demo she shares how to paint a still life of gouache tubes, in gouache of course.

When I saw Blaukopf’s sketch all done beforehand, I decided that I should do the same. So I paused the video and sketched the scene. 

My sketch turned out smaller than hers, and I believe that led to some flaws in the painting later on, but I’m not going to complain about my result. 

I used the same paper as Blaukopf did, however, I didn’t have the exact paint colours as Blaukopf. So I just followed her example of primary colour mixing. 

Like her, I painted the background mostly white but also yellow, red, and blue. I quite like the blue left edge on mine.

It’s amazing to me how primary colours can make such varied grey tones.

Following Blaukopf’s lesson, I mixed the different tints to go with the different ways the shadows were falling on the paint tubes in the scene.  

I got buried in the process for a while, so I forgot to photograph a few steps. The shading process continued, with different shades of bluish-grey, purplish-grey, and even yellowish-grey, as well as varying amounts of white. 

There is a definite darker side on each paint tube, to show dimension. Since the paint tubes are made of metal, some colour variation is needed to show that the surface reflects light.  

When I picked up the camera again, it was time to add detail to the tubes of paint. For the green tube, Blaukopf used blue to shade.

Even though the tube colour was used to paint the corresponding tube’s label, shading was still needed to show the dimension of the object.  

After I finished adding the different coloured labels to my paint tubes, I realized that either my brush was too large or my sketch was too small. I think my sketch was too small. 

Still, I think I put the colours in mostly the right places. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of an Impressionistic interpretation.

Then it was time to add little white flecks on the metallic surfaces to highlight them. The challenge here was making sure the paint wasn’t soupy, because that ruins the opacity.

If it was too dry that was also bad because the rough edges of the marks ruin the appearance of light.  

Blaukopf demonstrated this lovely technique of wetting the brush and then softening the edges of the shadows. It appeared to be an experiment for her after a viewer question.

If that was the case, then it was so cool to see a seasoned professional painter learning mid-project, on-air. I used this technique on more of my shadows than she did on hers because I thought mine needed it.

Blaukopf then shared the old graphic designers’ trick of hinting at text by making orderly little flecks of black on the paper. Copying each letter of the text would be so much detail that it would bog down the viewer’s eye as it travels through the painting. My tiny sketch got bogged down in black paint because my brush was too big for such a tiny sketch!  

After adding some text in white, and adding a few finishing touches to some shadows, I called my painting done.

Blaukopf added more details to hers for a few minutes, but I stopped mine because, with the size of my sketch to my brush, more detail was just going to ruin everything. 

I liked watching Blaukopf correct a minor mistake because it showed her willingness to self-critique. (Funnily enough, I made the same mistake along with her because I trust her so much. When she fixed it, I had to as well!)  

This live demo was a great experience because Shari Blaukopf is such a good instructor. I learned many good concepts about gouache painting. She taught us what order to put each layer in a gouache layer, as well as how to plan a painting from start to finish. 

The mistakes in my painting stemmed from the fact that I made my sketch too small, and that can be easily avoided next time. If you would like to join in learning from Shari Blaukopf, I encourage you to go to her Mini Workshop!

Elsa Wahlstrom is an illustrator and graphic novelist based in Minnesota. She specializes in all things cozy and calm, but adds humor where she can. When she isn’t drawing, she enjoys playing musical instruments, but you’re more likely to see her staring at some silly tree or something. 

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