The Ins and Outs of Painting with Gouache



Bonnie Kuhl is the owner of Archer and Olive, a GORGEOUS stationery company with a focus of creating paper goods specifically for artists, all of which came as a result of a particular observation.


It all started while Bonnie was studying graphic design in college, which “forced” her to take fine art classes. She fell in love with the art of painting and found herself combining her new artistic passion with her existing love of nature and florals.

Bonnie knew that her end goal was to create stationery, so when she noticed that there was a need for journals that could withstand use of different mediums and art supplies, Archer and Olive was the result!


A quick look at Archer and Olive and you’ll see why I love Bonnie’s floral artwork so much and understand why she was the perfect guest for this segment.


Watch the video bellow for Bonnie’s lesson on how to paint florals with gouache!

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.



What is gouache? (And if you’re new to the word, it’s said like “squash”!)


Gouache and watercolour are similar, but gouache has a more opaque finish. The colours are bold and vibrant and it is really easy to layer (which in turn helps create the gorgeous florals you’re about to learn!)


Now, let’s cover tools!


Bonnie’s Favourite Tools:



  • Winsor and Newton Gouache – Keep in mind that quality will make a difference! There are other brands that Bonnie likes (which she covers in her online course) but this is her favourite!
  • Winsor and Newton University Series 233 Round Brush in Size 0 – Tiny tip, which is great for the little details on the florals
  • Palette or Palette Paper – Bonnie prefers palette paper!
  • Water and Paper Towel
  • 80# or 160 GSM Card stock – Ideal for painting



How to Mix Your Gouache


Right out of the tube, gouache is too dry and has to be mixed with water.

To test your consistency, apply a bit of paint to scrap paper. If the gouache is streaky, it is too dry. If the gouache is transparent, it has too much water.

You are looking for the gouache to be opaque, dark and not streaky!


Pro Tip: Never let paint or water hit the metal part of your paintbrush! Doing so might result in too much water mixing into your paint!



How to Paint a Leaf!


Keep in mind that in nature, stems are not perfectly straight, so neither will should your stem be!

First, start with the stem!

From the tip of your brush, very gently draw a curved line. Aim to have the tip thin and draw a gradually thicker line towards the end.

Draw the outline of your leaf by connecting two curved lined to the top of the stem, and then draw in the leaf leaving the vein across the middle white.

Remember, nothing in life if symmetrical so your leaves do NOT have to be identical!

Draw another leaf down and away from the first stem, and then connect it with a branch.

In nature, most things come in uneven numbers! So using odd numbers for your leaves and branches works well and creates a balances drawing.

Continue adding leaves and branches until you have achieved that balance!

Pro Tip: Gouache is very opaque. If you’ve made a mistake and need to correct it, you can use white paint to fix it!

There you have it! A beautiful little branch with leaves!!


If you enjoyed this lesson and are bound to love Bonnie’s Introduction to Gouache Florals course! The course covers multiple plants, leaves and florals and includes printable PDF’s for tracing!

In case that weren’t incentive enough, Bonnie has generously offered us 15% off her course! Simply type in “BECCA15” at checkout!

(The coupon expired on April 2nd, so be sure to snag it soon!)

Thanks so much to Bonnie for taking the time to chat with us today! You can find and follow Archer and Olive on Instagram and check them out on their website!


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