What is the weakness of gouache?

What is the weakness of gouache? paint film

When it comes to painting and artwork, gouache is a popular medium known for its unique properties. However, like any other material, gouache has its own set of weaknesses that artists should be aware of. In this article, we will explore the shortcomings of gouache and how they can affect your artistic process and final results.

The opacity of gouache

One of the strengths of gouache is its opacity, which allows artists to achieve vibrant and solid colors. However, this same opacity can also be a weakness. Gouache has a tendency to dry darker and less vibrant than when it is wet. This can be a challenge when trying to achieve a specific color or tone, as the final result may differ from what you initially intended.

Reactivating and layering issues

Gouache can be reactivated with water, which makes it possible to rework areas even after they have dried. However, this characteristic can also cause problems when layering colors. If you apply a new layer of gouache on top of a dry layer, there is a risk of reactivating the underlying layers and causing unwanted mixing. Artists need to be mindful of this and plan their layers accordingly to avoid muddy colors.

Cracking and flaking

Gouache has a tendency to crack and flake when applied in thick layers or if not properly prepared. This can be especially problematic if you are working on a larger piece or planning to varnish your artwork. To minimize cracking, it is important to use a good quality gouache, prepare your surface properly, and avoid applying thick layers of paint. Additionally, using a flexible support such as canvas or a primed board can help reduce the risk of cracking.

Color shift

Another weakness of gouache is its tendency to experience color shift over time. Gouache pigments are prone to fading or changing when exposed to light, which can affect the overall appearance of your artwork. To minimize this issue, it is recommended to use high-quality gouache paints that have been tested for lightfastness and to frame your artwork under UV-protected glass.

Delicacy of the paint film

While gouache is known for its matte finish, this same characteristic can make the paint film more delicate than other mediums. Gouache paintings are more prone to becoming easily scratched or damaged compared to oils or acrylics. Artists need to handle and store their gouache works with care to prevent any unintentional damage.


Overall, gouache is a versatile and beautiful medium that offers unique possibilities for artists. However, it is important to be aware of its weaknesses to minimize any potential issues. By understanding and working around the opacity, reactivating and layering challenges, cracking and flaking risks, color shift, and delicacy of the paint film, artists can fully harness the potential of gouache and create stunning artworks.

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