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Reeves Gouache

Reported By Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Favored by illustrators, gouache is commonly known as “the opaque watercolor.” I came by my set of 24 tubes by Reeves through a bad review. A woman that I scrapbook with brought them in (barely touched) with the pronouncement that they were there for the taking as she didn’t like them. Reeves gouache is considered student-grade and therefore quite inexpensive. A set of 24 tubes retails for around $14.99.

So, do I agree with my friend’s assessment? Well, I took them for a test drive when I made the layout seen here. I painted the clouds, sun, rainbow, and title on separate pieces of paper experimenting with different painting techniques (lots of water, little water, textured paper, flat paper) and experimented with drawing on the painted surfaces with both a black pen and white pen.


Here are my conclusions:

  • The Reeves gouache behaved very much like acrylic paint.
  • I had some issues with flaking and chipping when I used a heat gun to speed drying (something I often do with watercolor and acrylic paint, but they don’t chip).
  • I had a few issues with the tubes of paint:
    • The cap broke on one tube when I tried to close it.
    • One tube developed a hole in the bottom.
    • Two of the tubes had slightly explosive reactions when I opened them. The paint came flying out without my having squeezed them.
  • I liked having the ability to blend the paints (like on the clouds) if I wanted, but they also kept their integrity (like on the rainbow).
  • The colors are rich and brilliant.
  • The paint dries to a nice smooth finish, even on textured paper.

All in all, I think that you get what you pay for. This is a nice starter set of gouache. It’s cheap enough to allow for the curious to explore the wide world of gouache. Most of my quibbles are with the tubes. I feel very frustrated that on a first outing of these paints I had so many issues.

Do you have a brand of gouache that you like? Fill us in!

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3 Responses to Reeves Gouache

  1. Avatar
    Rachel June 26, 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    I love gouache! It was a medium I used a lot while I was in college, and the trick to it is making sure the paint is dry before you start to blend. Of course I can’t remember the brand I used, it was what was in the student supply store.

  2. Avatar
    roseynosey June 27, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    I’ve had a set of this brand of gouache for a while. They’re okay if you need something really cheap. I ran into the same problems you described…most of the caps broke, some of the tubes leaked. Also with some colors the binder starts separating from the pigment.

  3. Avatar
    Mel M. M. M. July 10, 2008 at 11:13 pm #

    Fantastic article. Must try this. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge! :0)