Re: Help with gum pritns on black paper with white Gouache.

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;>
Date: 01/16/05-08:10:40 AM Z
Message-id: <>

Christina Z. Anderson wrote:
> <big snip from Katharine> This nicely-rendered gum print came out of the water
> > intact but was completely lost in drying; the gum and gouache sank into
> > the very absorbent paper and left nothing of the subtleties of the print
> > on the surface, just shapes like cutouts. So I'm inclined to point to
> > the paper.
> My experience exactly, except it was on a multilayered dark gum background
> on white paper. In the water the image looked great; when dry, it almost
> disappeared except for the shadow areas, so it resembled what Carmen calls a
> high contrast image. It didn't sink into the paper, though--but was a
> factor of the combination of dark background (whether of paper or gum) and
> light pigment.

I think we're talking about two different things here. I was talking
about a fully tonal gum image that sank into a coarse, absorbent, rough,
unsized paper and lost all its tonal character. (My suggestion to size
the paper was no doubt superfluous, because Carmen probably sizes as a
rule like most people do; I suppose I forget momentarily that not
everyone proceeds as I do, sizing only when the paper calls for it, as
Arches Cover certainly does.) What I think you're talking about, on the
other hand, is a form of drydown effect, which tends to be pronounced
with white watercolor paints; they lose significant opacity on drying,
but this is not nearly so true of gouache. (I'm assuming that when you
mentioned adding titanium white to colors to make them more opaque for
printing light over dark, you meant titanium white watercolor paint, not
gouache). And if you were adding only enough white to add opacity to a
more transparent other color and still retain the other color, then I
can see how it might be difficult to get something to show over a dark

To show you what I'm talking about, I went back and repeated the thing I
described the other day, the sinking image (I'd already tossed the
print, not thinking it would be of any further use to me) even though
I've already admitted that probably no one in the world would try to
print on this paper unsized, but me. Unfortunately, this time I grabbed
a negative out of the folder instead of the positive I used before, so
the white on black gum print is a negative of the image rather than a
positive, but just try to ignore that.

I printed the thing unsized, and then I sized a piece of the paper with
acrylic medium and printed that with the same gouache mixture. As I
expected, the sizing held the image above the surface instead of sinking
in, but the resulting image had no midtones. So much for my suggestion:
the sized paper actually printed with more contrast than the unsized.
The white isn't pure white; as Judy said, even with gouache you may need
two coats to completely cover the black in the whitest areas.

In neither case was drydown a factor in the loss of midtones: in the
case of the print on unsized paper, the gum image was fully tonal but
sank into the paper. In the case of the image on sized paper, the wet
gum image never had any midtones to start with; as I said, I believe the
sizing has more to do with that than the fact that it's gouache.

I don't believe it's not possible to get a tonal image with gouache, or
with light over dark; I know I've seen such images and have made such
images, but don't have anything to point to to support this at the

I did experiment this morning with printing black gum on paper and then
overprinting that with white after drying, but apparently I used so much
black pigment, wanting a good solid black, that it wasn't all taken up
with the hardened gum; at any rate when I went to print the white over
it, some of the black lifted and turned the white grey. I'm curious
enough that I'd like to experiment with this some more but don't know
when I'll have the time.

None of this helps Carmen very much with her question: can gouache be
printed on black with continuous tone? I believe the answer is yes, but
I can't prove it this minute.

> I did this a number of times with prints, last semester, as a matter of
> fact. Each time I tried it, I would literally have to print over and over
> and over to get something to even show up. Only three prints did I even
> think worth keeping, and they aren't my favorites, except for the one on my
> website.
> When I saw Sam Wang's luscious silkscreens at about that time, still timely
> even tho they are a couple decades old, they got me to thinking. He printed
> a bunch of them dark to light, and they looked all frosty, and really neat.
> That's what made me think there must be a way to do it with gum, too, and
> the bitmap effect. I just haven't gone back to it again to figure it out.
> Maybe Carmen will, and report to the list.
> Chris
Received on Sun Jan 16 16:06:51 2005

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