Pear And Cranberry Crisp

Working With My Favorite Knife

Working With My Favorite Knife Carolina Elena gouache on board 9X12 2017


Working With My Favorite Knife 2017. gouache on board 9 x 12

Sorry folks, no time to write. I have been painting, but other responsibilities and the wicked flu, that has been going around, have prevented me from getting on the blog. I am not so sure about combining my painting blogging with my cooking blogging. I will figure it out. You can always find me on Instagram @carolina_elena_

Until next time,

breath easy.

oops! almost forgot - what's my favorite knife to work with in my kitchen? The Wüsthof Classic 7" Nikiri Knife. It makes me sing while chopping vegetables.




A friend, via Facebook, was intrigued by the gouache I used. I wrote a long response to her. I thought someone else might benefit from what I wrote, so I am copying it here, below. Hope it is useful to you.

Thank you Sheri, Sherri, & Lara. I appreciate your comments. Gouache is a medium that I, too, am intrigued by. My first few tries at it made me feel like it was under the guillotine - I am serious. It was the death of me. The first few tries at it where 100% flat and dead on arrival. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING worked. I came to the conclusion that it was a medium for illustrators, fabric designers, etc. and that it was the gouache paint, itself, that gave their designs that flat 70's look. It was not a medium for me. Then I saw the work of Mike Hernandez (I now follow him on Instagram) and I saw, for the first time, gouache with luminosity. I was stunned. I thought- " It is possible? I will just go to the source and take a 2 day workshop from the man and have him show me how the hell he did it." Easy, right? Not so fast, little grasshopper. The workshop, itself, was not that expensive, but after calculating costs for flights, hotels, rental car, meals, etc., it was out of the question. I was stuck with my flat results and "shelved" the gouache in a box... but I kept seeing this man's luminous work. Again... how the hell does he do that? It would not let go of my brain, then I saw the work of an illustrator called PixelPChan (I also follow him on Instagram.) His work actually looks almost pixelated... it was like a broken down Mike Hernandez gouache painting. This got me thinking on how to treat each brush stroke as an individual layer and make each answer the "call" to what I was seeing. Was the color just a color, what value was it that I was seeing? How to do that, and NO MORE, was the challenge I was facing. I had to let go of the "shape," or, rather, I had to let go of trying to paint the shape, and only paint the value in the hue I was seeing. This forced me to "sculpt" the shape into existence, but remain firmly entrenched in the goal that the value/hue had a higher priority in my attempt than the likeness. And so, I kept at it. The paint dries so fast, that it can be layered easily, just like watercolor, but since it is opaque, I can "correct & sculpt" as I go along. This was a negative when I first started working with it... now it is a positive. The fact the paint, in my palette, can dry to a crusty lump and be brought back to life with a spritz of water, is very forgiving- there is zero waste.

Gouache palette


The fact that I can paint on any piece of paper or board is a Godsend when I am concerned about how much money I spend. These past couple of paintings with gouache have been painted on canvas art board from Canson ( essentially a compressed paper board that is meant as a practice surface for oils or acrylics.)

Gouache materials

These boards come in a pad that I can either paint directly on and remove the top layer after I am done (as I do when I am painting plein air, or I remove a board and place it on my easel when painting a still life indoors.) I really like that one surface allows me to paint in any medium I want; it makes me feel like I am not wasting the material, it forgives me if I screw up and want to switch mediums. The gouache paint I use is like all gouache paint- a water-based medium that is opaque. This means that, like watercolor, you use water to mix colors with and for cleanup. The brands I can usually find are Windsor Newton (Designers gouache,) Holbein (Artists' gouache,) and M. Graham (Artists gouache.) All three of these brands, in my opinion, are interchangeable as far as quality goes. The reason I choose these three brands is the density of the actual pigment in each tube is high (think luscious color!) I use fairly short handled brushes with a synthetic fibers by Escoda (Versatíl.)

Gouache paint tubes and brushes


I have two flats (sizes 16 & 18 nearly identical in case I want to switch colors with out washing the brush) and a cat's tongue brush in size 16 that gives me a bit of a point, also from the same brand. I have to admit, though, that I bought the three brushes not really knowing which one I really needed, but find that I can paint an entire painting with only the 16 flat. Those sizes are a fairly large brush ratio to the board size, this keeps me from getting too precious about the shapes I am trying to paint. Talk about a weight savings when I am out there en plein air. So the canvas board pad, the 16 flat, an old plastic peanut butter jar with fresh water in it, a cheap plastic palette that comes with it's own cover, and a handful of paper towels... where the hell was this when I was spending $$$$ along my path of learning how to paint? Going forward, as I learn to paint, I get the fact that what I am really learning is how to compartmentalize each brush stroke into a layer of color and to use those layers of color to sculpt the object I am trying to portray. Sherri... I hope this helps. The lack of a bazillion pieces of equipment is beginner friendly. All you have to do is get past the fact that the guillotine phase is normal. I am not like Lara, who has a talent beyond talents, but I am sure she would attest that her skill has come from repetition and not inborn ability... that is the how it is with most painters. I feel like I am on my way to being a "club member," despite not having anyone show me how it is done. If you can afford to take the workshop, by all means DO IT, it will get you "there" that much faster. If, like me, the money or the flexibility to fly off somewhere to take a workshop, just "ain't happening" for you, don't let it deter you from figuring it out on your own. Face the damn fear, and realize that there is, actually, life after the guillotine. It only takes acceptance of the fact that failure is an integral part of mastering this thing we want to be able to do. Good luck. Let me know if you try it.

My gouache palette set up


and like I said before... breath easy.


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