Coping with Depression, My Life in Watercolor

Painting Studio Ghibli Backgrounds and Dreamy Landscapes with Gouache

Hello, my dear readerships. It has been a year since this pandemic started. It’s been hard for all of us with businesses shutting down, people losing their jobs and loved ones, and some of us being left confused and scared of life’s uncertainties. Despite my usual positive posts and cheerful view of life, the pandemic did took a toll on my mental health especially when pandemic started.

As I have mentioned quite often in my recent posts, I tapped my creative side in order to keep my mind off the daily life’s stresses. Last year, I got into watercolor painting. If you had known me a long time, you’d know I used to be one of those people who couldn’t draw straight lines let alone landscapes or portraits. I couldn’t draw to save my life!

One thing I learned since last year though was that painting may be hard but it is fun! I have learned to love the fluidity of the watercolor as medium and how painting with it often result to accidents and surprises. Painting a single subject for say 2 or more times often result to 2 or more iterations of the same subject, it’s that messy! I know most people hate messy but I seem to like the chaos that comes with watercolor painting a lot!

But I digress. I know you get how I’m crazy about watercolor nowadays. Today, I’m going to talk about another medium that I have learned to love this month. It was a love that took months to develop.

My 10-color set Winsor and Newton gouache. 🙂

Last year, I got a set of Winsor and Newton gouache as Christmas gift. Being new to watercolor and still studying the medium at the time, the gouache set came at a bad time as I wasn’t ready to study another medium (not that I’m umgrateful by the way). As I was trying it, I found the colors were too opaque, the brushes and papers to be used would need to be different; and the paints had to be diluted with so much water to get the fluidity I enjoyed so much with watercolor. I was told that gouache can be used like watercolor but it didn’t feel like that to me initially. The set I got was also expensive so I didn’t want to use it up for practice!

Because artist or designer gouache can be expensive, I decided to buy a set of Himi Miya gouache that has 24 colors for practice as well as the Daler Rowney Simply gouache set to compare the former with. I initially found Himi Miya gouache too hard to work with compared to Winsor and Newton’s artist grade ones and Daler Rowney’s student grade so I left the set seating in my craft table for months. Then, life became too busy for me and barely had time to play with my watercolor.

One of my practice paintings using Daler and Rowney gouache set.

This month however, I sold a few of my watercolor paintings, and thus, had the funds to enroll in Gouache Painting Class with Cheryl Sun-Ong – a graduate of Industrial Fine Arts in Philippines but now based in Australia. This class was offered by Play Crafts PH. In Cheryl’s class, I learned the traditional way of painting with gouache and poster colors that the Japanese artists used in painting Studio Ghibli backgrounds. The technique used was primarily wet-on-wet – something that’s similar to watercolor – and one that I never tried last year when I first got my gouache.

I enrolled in Cheryl’s three classes and so far have finished two. For practice, I used Himi Miya gouache for the clouds and background on top of which I overlay details using my Daler Rowney gouache set. Here are some of the paintings I did during the class using my Himi Miya and Daler Rowney gouache sets:

Gouache Art

Dreamy Landscapes

This is my first Studio Ghibli inspired landscape art using Himi Miya and Daler Rowney gouache sets. Teacher Cheryl taught us the traditional way of using gouache which is a wet-on-wet technique pretty much similar to the way I use watercolor except that with gouache, the colors don’t spread as much.

My messy table during the class. I got this drawing board brand new from one of my favorite art shops in Lazada so as you can see, it still look pristine.

Our art teacher also recommended getting Japanese brushes for painting the clouds and details but they aren’t available here in the Philippines. So I opted for Marie’s Chinese brushes which happen to work as great and they are quite so cheap. I’m glad I bought these brushes. They hold as much water as my sable brushes for watercolor!

For papers, our art teacher recommend hot press cotton paper so I bought some from one of my favorite stores in Lazada. I also got a telescopic brush container to put my brushes in for when I travel and want to paint en plein air.

This dreamy landscape featuring lavender fields was our second output for the gouache painting class. I had a better appreciation of gouache after this subject.

Photos below feature some of the recent paintings I did using just Himi Miya gouache set. Both paintings were inspired by Makoto Shinkai’s work as featured in his art book – A Sky Longing for Memories.

I’m grateful that I got the opportunity to attend teacher Cheryl’s class. I now know how to work with Himi Miya gouache that I initially found hard to work with. I love it so much now that I have just ordered a 56-color set just so I can work quickly without the need to mix colors.

How about you? Have you tried painting with gouache yet?

gouache landscape art by Grass inspired by How's Flying Castle
Art inspiration from Howl’s Flying Castle
gouache landscape art by Grass sunflowers
gouache landscape art by Grass columnar basalt and waterfalls
Columnar basalts and waterfalls
gouache landscape art by Grass cherry blossoms
Cherry Blossoms and River
gouache landscape art by Grass
A scene in Washington, USA, referenced from a photograph.

Since a lot of people from outside the Philippines are asking where they can possibly get some of the art materials I’ve mentioned here, I am including my affiliate links with Amazon below. Please take note that by buying these art materials from these affiliate links, I get a bit of commission that will help me fund this website and keep it up and running.


3 thoughts on “Painting Studio Ghibli Backgrounds and Dreamy Landscapes with Gouache”

  1. Great read. I enjoyed learning about your journeys with watercolor and the gouache. I have not tried much gouache, though your paintings make me want to, as you were able to create some beautiful effects. Very nice.


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