Coursework Part Three: Exercise 3.1 Gouache Studies

Part 1

Sample 1

This fabric is a curtain/furnishing textile, ‘Roundelay’ from Jonelle Duracolour. The textile was sourced from a charity shop.


I had thought that this textile had six colours in it, but as I was painting the chips, I realised that there were actually seven (not counting the black outlines of the floral motifs). A turquoise and very bright green were quite close in hue. Looking back at my two sheets of rejected paint chips, and notes of the colours I used for mixing the different samples, I see that the pale pink was the trickiest colour to match. I initially made the hue too warm, then too pure. The bright green was also difficult to match. The gouache paint set I had purchased had three greens (Bright Green, Leaf Green and Mid Green), which I tried mixing with Lemon Yellow. None of these combinations were correct, so I went back to the primary colours and found that Blue Lake mixed with Lemon Yellow and White achieved the correct hue.

The main thing I learned was to try and judge whether I needed to make a warm or cool hue, and then select the appropriate temperature of paint hue to start from. I found it helpful to make an exaggerated warm or cool hued paint chip for comparison. The paints were quite a runny texture, so adding water made the resulting paint chips too translucent and streaky.

Sample 2

Another furnishing textile, this one purchased as a sample from an interior design shop. The maker is Prestigious Textiles.


I found six colours in this textile, including the background textile (a creamy, off white). The dark pink was the hardest colour to match. I had about a dozen attempts using two base colours: first Crimson, then Magenta and adding touches of Cobalt Blue and White, eventually settling on a mixture of the two red hues.

The course notes had mentioned that some samples will dry to a lighter, chalkier finish, however (Hornung, 2012 p44) disagrees: “Except for the darkest tones, colors tend to darken as they dry..”. Personally, I felt that the colours with a lot of white in them did dry to a slightly paler finish, whereas other samples, with less white in them became darker on drying. It was therefore helpful to make a few varying tints or shades of each colour and pick the closest one when the swatches were dry.

Sample 3

I again managed to find seven colours in a textile that I had thought contained six (including the background). This is an old favourite from my quilting textile supplies. I don’t have the maker’s or pattern details. The subtle blend of greys and various shades of browns and blues was enjoyable to try and match. I got my only ‘hole in one’ with the Red Ochre colour that was an exact match with the colour straight from the tube. The two shades of grey both required touches of red in them to match the perceived colours of the textile, and caused the most trouble in matching as I had started out with chromatic greys in the blue, then yellow ranges.

Sample 4

This white eyelet textile fragment is all that is left of one of my blouses (the rest having been used in other projects over the years). The white machine embroidery on white cotton did not appear to offer much of a palette, but the shadows cast by the embroidery, and in the eyelet holes, formed three shades of grey that I could see. The type of lighting will also have had an effect upon the perceived colours. I was working after dark, with artificial lighting (yellowish).


Sample 5

This polyester/cotton mix ex-duvet cover has pleats, an over-stitched diamond pattern, with small amber glass beads at the nodes.

As well as the textile colour, shadows in two shades of grey (putty and darker grey) could be seen. The beads had a translucent amber colour, with brighter, ochre highlights and a dark brown core could be seen at some angles. The peach colour was visible (to me) along the base of the raised lines of stitch.

Sample 6

This sample is a woven, jacquard textile, used for furnishing. At first glance it has only a cream colour to it, but the shadows cast by the raised sections threw pale, warm chromatic grey shadows. A pinkish sheen on some of the raised areas could be seen under artificial light. After closer examination, minute flecks of dark taupe and dark grey (possibly cotton seed fragments) could be seen in the weave. The idea of representing proportions of colours in a palette (to be studied in a forthcoming exercise) will make for a more accurate representation of the colours used. In this textile sample, the darkest grey and brown would be represented by tiny specks.

I made a visual evaluation drawing in pencil and Aquarelle pencils, then in textiles (using my own choice of colour palette), of the Prestigious Textiles fabric motif, which I found appealing in its simplicity: the offset patches of colour and simple outline combine to make an image more interesting than their separate parts. This would also work well in hand stitch, or in light stitches on a dark background.



This has been a rather more difficult exercise than I imagined. Using gouache paint for the first time has been interesting and it took some getting used to the consistency required to produce an opaque and streak-free finish. I used up the white tube of paint after three samples and had to quickly order more. The new white paint by a different manufacturer is superior in opacity, but has a slightly warmer colour.

It has been surprising to see how many colours are used in a textile that, at first glance, appears to contain a simple palette. Closer study can reveal several tones or tints of the same hue, giving depth and contrast to the design.

A textile using just one colour, can create perceived variations in colour with texture: embroidery, raised woven areas or textile manipulation (quilting, pleating etc).



Hornung, D. (2012) Colour: A workshop for artists and designers: A workshop for artists and designers. 2nd edn. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s