Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Playing with Kuretake Gansai Tambi

"Duck Gourd" done in Kuretake Gansai Tambi paints, using the 12 color set.

I don't know very much about gansai tambi apart from the paints using a different binder and being a water-based media, but I have found out that they can act like both transparent watercolors and opaque gouache.

Above is "Duck Gourd II", the first version of which I initially did in ArtRage using dimensional oils and a more abstract sensibility. I did it again with Gansai Tambi after some exploration of how water and moisture control interact with the paints, as well as a color chart to explore color vibrancy and color mixing:

The color chart using all 12 colors in the 12-color Kuretake Gansai Tambi set. Note: I renamed "middle green" to Midori, "deep blue" to Indigo, and "light brown" to Yellow Ochre.

I'm told Holbein watercolors have a tendency to not disperse (due to lack of ox gall) and thus stay put and can preserve brushstrokes more often, and that appears to also be the case for Kuretake's gansai tambi paints. The white is really meant to brighten the saturation of a mix, and can be surprisingly transparent as well as opaque.

Color mixes are vibrant and flexible in the 12-color set. For a fairly bright orange, use Scarlet Red and Lemon Yellow; a middle purple can be obtained with Blue and Wine Red.

I noticed as I painted that the paints exhibit the qualities of both transparent watercolor and opaque gouache, and some unique characteristics all their own. I made notes of which effects I used below:

I've done light impasto effects before with thick, thick application of Western-style watercolor, but at a small step above the opaque gouache "setting", light impasto can be done with the gansai tambi set.

Also you can blend the "opaque gouache" setting directly on the page, just like you can with watercolors, except you know, all opaque. You can glaze a la very transparent watercolors, but it's best to do glazing as if you were doing it over gouache—bone-dry under layer, and don't linger or overwork your glaze.

No colors appear to stain but I would need to do further testing on this.

I know that Nikker color can act as both transparent watercolor and opaque gouache, however Nikker also doesn't reactivate on paper, so gansai tambi is a bit different.

When working with the gansai tambi, I'm actually happiest with using it fairly thick. It doesn't seem to bronze as very thick watercolor applications sometimes do, but it does have a shiny sheen after a few opaque layers (this duck gourd's "head" is shiny, for instance, with three layers).

All in all, I like these, but they definitely don't act like traditional Western watercolors, and their hybrid watercolor-gouache nature seems fascinating to work with. If I ever empty out these pans (freeing them up for using with my western watercolors!) I'll probably grab another Kuretake Gansai Tambi set for adult coloring, sketching, and works intended for reproduction—I already like this media that much.

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Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at avajarvisart.com. If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.