Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache

Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache

chmincke Calligraphy Gouache

This gouache comes in 12 colors that are brilliant and mainly opaque. The colors were selected and developed especially developed for use in calligraphy (Patricia Lovett advised during the process). Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache (and all gouache) should be diluted with water to a consistency of thin, runny cream, which is suitable for both broad-edge calligraphy (Italics, Roman, Uncial, Blackletter/Gothic, etc.) and for illumination. Schmincke Gouache works equally well in the pointed pen for Spencerian Script, Engrosser’s Script, Copperplate Script, and Modern Calligraphy. 
   The selected colors include a 6-color double primary set, which allows for more numerous mixing options than using a 3-color primary. With the double primary, two of the primary colors can be mixed to create bright, clear secondary colors as well as a more complex purple, green, and orange. The double-primary system was introduced by Michael Wilcox in his book Blue and Yellow Don‘t Make Green (now out of print).
   Among the Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache colors is also a dense white (Opaque White), a very opaque black (Jet Black), two metallic colors (Gold Pearl, Silver), and a brown (Burnt Sienna). Lastly, there is Chromium Oxide Green, which flows especially well in a pen and would be a good first choice for those wanting to learn how to use gouache in a calligraphy pen. 

Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache

The double primary colors

Instead of the three usual primary colors, there are two blues, two yellows and two reds in the Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache set. These colors are also available individually.
430 Ultramarine Deep Blue = blue tending towards red
431 Paris Blue = blue tending towards yellow
210 Lemon Yellow = yellow tending towards blue
211 Cadmium Yellow Hue Light = yellow tending towards red
320 Vermillion Red = red tending towards yellow
321 Madder Red = red tending towards blue
These can be mixed to many different colors.

Mixing with double primaries 

Schmincke Gouache

Mix together the two primaries linked by color to make clear secondaries:

  • Mix Ultramarine Deep Blue 430 (blue-red) and Madder Red 321 (red-blue) to make purple. 
  • Mix Lemon Yellow 210 (yellow-blue) and Paris Blue 431 (blue-yellow) to make green. 
  • Mix Cadmium Yellow Hue Light 211 (yellow-red) and Vermilion Red 320 (red-yellow) to make orange.

schmincke gouache

For dull secondaries, mix together the colors that are not linked on the color wheel as shown above:

  • Mix Ultramarine Deep Blue 430 (blue-red) and Vermilion Red 320 (red-yellow) to make dull purple.
  • Mix Paris Blue 431 (blue-yellow) and Cadmium Yellow Hue Light 211 (yellow-red) to make dull green. 
  • Mix Lemon Yellow 210 (yellow-blue) and Madder Red 321 (red-blue) to make green. 


Further mixing options

schmincke gouache

To create darker or earthy tones, mix the color which is opposite in the color wheel – this is the complementary color:

  • green is the complementary of red (and vice versa)
  • orange is the complementary of blue (and vice versa)
  • purple is the complementary of yellow (and vice versa)

schmincke calligraphy gouache

Diluting the paint and feeding the calligraphy pen

To use Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache in your pen, you will need an old brush, an eye dropper, (distilled) water, and a small white saucer or paint palette. Squeeze out about 5mm (approx ¼") of paint from the tube into the mixing palette. Using the eye dropper, add water to the paint and mix with the brush. Add more water, drop by drop, until all the paint is mixed and is the consistency of thin, runny cream. Use the brush to feed the paint into the pen by stroking it on the side or top of the nib. When you have finished, cover the palette loosely to keep out dust; add more drops of water and mix thoroughly when you want to use it again.


Using Gold and Silver

You mix the Schmincke metallic gouaches, Gold Pearl or Silver, with water the same as the colors. Stir the paint regularly and feed small amounts frequently into the pen with the brush as the heavier metal particles fall to the tip of the pen and to the bottom of your dish/palette. To create a raised effect: with paint in your pen, press the pen down into a still-wet stroke to release more of the paint.


Photo of gouache tubes provided by Schmincke. Other artwork/photos by P. Lovett MBE

Much of the information on this page (but not all) was provided by Patricia Lovett MBE for a leaflet that Schmincke produced for their Calligraphy Gouache. The text from the flyer has been edited/amended. The flyer is included with the boxed set and is available on the web.

Patricia Lovett is a professional calligrapher and illuminator creating significant artworks to commission. She has written a number of books on the subject, including The Art and History of Calligraphy, and has taught and lectured. Patricia’s website has free Calligraphy Clips showing how to start and improve in calligraphy. She also has a very active blog and sends out a free monthly online newsletter all over the world. Patricia was awarded a UK national honour for calligraphy and heritage crafts.

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