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Easy Guide to Starting a 20 Minute Painting Practice

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

Singing the Praises of Gouache

Set up a space, just a small space, anywhere you can. Perhaps the kitchen or the dining room table, or even a small end table. Heck - set it up on your ironing board if you have to. The idea is to set up in a spot where you can leave everything. You are more likely to paint when everything is ready.

In this article I will also share with you some of the amazing qualities of Gouache. If you've never tried this medium, you don't know what you're missing. It's easy, convenient and doesn't jump about from seat to dashboard...

The hardest thing about painting is starting, so you need a little ritual. Invite your creative muse to your painting location and sit down with your paints, brushes and canvases, and allow the magic happen. Don’t think too much! Creativity is simply about connecting things.

Begin with a short morning practice in which you choose an inspiring image as reference. That’s it! Take a break and let it linger until the afternoon. In your second session, work out a few quick thumbnail sketches and outline your composition on the canvas. Done. Make lunch. In your third session, paint!

Aim to paint for 20 minutes, which is usually just enough time to get your creative juices flowing. Of course, if the mood is right and things are going well, you will end up painting longer. The goal is to get in the habit of painting. You will find that with the workspace ready and waiting, the act of creation will come much easier.

This is what my practice sessions look like…

I usually paint in oil but for reasons I’m about to explain, I needed to find ways to paint smaller, easier, lighter and cleaner.

I love painting outside and because of the long Canadian winter I often end up painting from my truck. Sitting in a warm truck with heated seats and hot cocoa when it’s -20ºc might feel like cheating and it is…

I’m spoiled. I even have a beautiful 6x8 Guerrilla Pochade Painter Box that I use for just such occasions. It’s perfect for lap painting but there is one problem… the amount of wet oil paint all over the truck interior. Apparently, oil migrates at a rapid pace.

This problem led me on a search to find an alternative medium to paint with - something that behaves like oil but doesn’t travel from seat to seat. The answer: Gouache.

Gouache is opaque like oil, but it dries quickly. An added bonus is that it is water soluble and dries to the same value (not darker like acrylic).

The other thing I love about gouache is that when the colours dry on your palette you just need to re-wet them and voila’ they’re good to go again. No need to put out fresh colour each time you paint! The colours you place on your palette will dry but are re-wettable each time you are ready to paint. No need to clean your palette either! Easy!

You can use gouache paint in the same manner you use oil or acrylic, but its working properties are most similar to watercolour — with the exception that it’s meant to be used opaquely. If you need transparency, add more water. Any watercolour brushes and papers can easily be used with gouache. It may take a bit of experimenting but in no time you will be singing the praises of Gouache.

Good luck, have fun and remember that the benefits to painting for just 20 minutes a day are countless. Here are just a few: Top 10 Health Benefits of Painting

Your friend in art,


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