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Gouache; A Brief History and The Suitability of Rosemary & Co’s ‘Shiraz’ Brushes

Gouache paint has been around for centuries however not many casual artists have experience with them like they have with the more popular mediums of acrylic, watercolour or oil. I spoke to Murray Ince, an artist and tutor based on the Isle of Wight about Gouache and what best practices he implements. This is what he had to say;

“Gouache is a lovely medium to work with and has a surprisingly long history. It is very similar in use to Egg Tempera and Casein. Egg tempera’s pigments are bound with egg as you may have guessed and Casein is precipitated from milk. The binder is made by dissolving the resulting ‘Casein’ in an alkaline, usually lime, ammonium carbonate or borax, which is then added to the pigments. There are very subtle differences in these three media, but probably the most important is that over time both casein and egg tempera become waterproof. Gouache is not waterproof when dry so needs to be mounted and framed under glass as you would a watercolour.

The advantage of Gouache not being waterproof is that it can be re-wetted or dampened to re-activate the surface allowing for some subtle blending. The binder used in Gouache is Gum Arabic the same as in watercolour. The major differences between Gouache and watercolour are that the particles of pigment in gouache are larger and there is significantly more pigment in gouache. An ‘extender’ is used in some gouache colours, usually precipitated chalk which all works to make gouache much more opaque than its transparent counterpart.

‘View Towards Seaview from Puckpool, Isle of Wight’

‘View Towards Seaview from Puckpool, Isle of Wight’

Gouache Characteristics

Gouache dries to a lovely, matt, velvet like surface and as it is an opaque medium reproduces extremely well. Watercolour being transparent is notoriously difficult to reproduce well as some of the subtleties can be lost in the reproduction process, light passes through the pigment of pale washes bouncing back from the papers surface whereas gouache being more heavily pigmented, opaque and matt absorbs the majority of the light giving more accurate reproductions. For a long time, gouache has been the favoured medium by designers, animators and illustrators and has become known as Designer’s gouache.

The surface of a gouache painting makes it suitable for certain mixed media techniques, I have used it to great effect with coloured pencil and artist’s soft pastel allowing for some great effects.

The opaqueness of gouache allows for the application of light colours over dark colour, making it much more forgiving than watercolour.

‘Loch Leven’ on Rough 140lb watercolour paper created for an article in ‘Leisure Painter’

‘Loch Leven’ on Rough 140lb watercolour paper


The properties of gouache make it possible to paint on a great many supports and grounds including all types of watercolour paper. Of course you can use any paper below 140lb in weight if it is first stretched as you would watercolour paper. As gouache is so opaque you are able to paint straight onto any dark colour including black, any colour mount board is a good support! You can also paint on stretched canvases and canvas boards. If using on a stretched canvas don’t use it too thickly as the dried surface of gouache is not overly flexible and could be prone to cracking if on a very flexible surface.


I am best known for my work in Water-Mixable Oil paints and am the founder of the ‘Society of Painters in Water-Mixable Oils’ for which I use the Rosemary & Co ‘Ivory’, ‘Red Dot’ and various brushes from their special ranges. I also do an ever-increasing amount of work using gouache and for many years just used basic lower price bracket brushes for painting with gouache due to its make-up, gouache is grittier and heavier than watercolour and even though I have generally been happy with my results I have always had my eye open for the perfect brush to use with them, queue Rosemary & Co!

Thumbing through the lovely catalogue (available for free here) and speaking to Joe at R & Co. I decided to buy some of the ‘Shiraz’ range of brushes and boy, am I glad I did! They are totally suitable for my style of gouache painting and are available in a great range of shapes and sizes. They have a lovely ’snap’ and hold their beautiful shapes well. They are that bit stiffer than watercolour brushes but not as stiff as hog bristle brushes making them perfect for my style and techniques.

I will be adding many more ‘Shiraz’ brushes to my growing collection of Rosemary & Co brushes, they have certainly helped me improve and develop my techniques in all mediums.”

by Murray William Cole Ince

‘Poppies’ on black cartridge paper 11” x 8”

‘Poppies’ on black cartridge paper 11” x 8”

Murray has mentioned the key brushes he has used for his recent gouache endeavours:

The pointed rounds hold their points beautifully and are a lovely shape, the filberts, Daggers and flats hold a knife sharp edge which is really useful and give me the full armoury of various mark making. I will be buying the full range in the very near future!

A big Thank You to Murray for all your information, I hope and i’m sure our readers can learn something new!

Everyone has their own individual preferences and favourite brushes. We are thrilled Shiraz work really well for Murray, but many of our brushes could also work for other artists, from beginner to advanced. Check out some of our brush sets that will be well equipped for gouache by clicking here

I welcome you to visit Murray’s website to see more about his art! www.murrayince.com


Royal Mail have provided their last postage dates for a Christmas delivery. You can view the list in it’s entirety by clicking here. Please note some countries may not apply to Rosemary & Co as we do not use Royal Mail for all countries.

Many dates across November 2022 are planned for industrial action so please bear that in mind too. Click here for all Royal Mail’s latest news regarding their planned strikes as customers should expect significant disruption.

You can see all our delivery options here.

We advise you order as soon as possible to avoid any disappointment!

royal mail xmas 2022


Rosemary and Co Will Be Closed During The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

This week sees the UK celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with an extended public holiday that Rosemary and Co will be observing.

Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd in Cardiff. Picture date: Thursday October 14, 2021.

As a result, our offices and production department will be closed as follows:

Thursday 2nd June : Spring Bank Holiday
Friday 3rd June : Platinum Jubilee bank holiday

We will also be closed on the weekend, as normal, therefore we are back open on Monday 6th June. You can still place orders online throughout.

Many of the UK’s cities, towns and villages will be busy organising events and street parties as we approach the celebration of the Queen’s coronation 70 years ago. At Rosemary and Co we are joining The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), a tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. Everyone across the UK is being invited to plant trees from October 2021, when the tree planting season begins, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022. We are so proud to be planting 3 native trees at the Rosemary offices in North Yorkshire, a Field Maple tree, a Beech tree and a Holm Evergreen (wink wink) Oak tree.

Here are some facts about the upcoming jubilee:

1) A jubilee is a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of a reign or activity!

2) Special jubilees are named after precious stones: Silver for 25th, Ruby for 40th, Golden for 50th, Diamond for 60th and Platinum for 70th.

3) The first British monarch to mark a jubilee in a significant way was King George III in 1809 (below).

4) King George V was the first British monarch in history to celebrate a Silver Jubilee in 1935.

5) The Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1977, her Ruby Jubilee in 1992, her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

6) The London Underground has a line named after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, aptly named the Jubilee Line! In May 2022, The Elizabeth Line was unveiled.


7) The Jubilee Line’s colour is grey, representing the silver colour of the 1977 Jubilee!

8) This year’s event will be the first time a British Monarch has celebrated a Platinum Jubilee.

9) The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012 was allegedly the ‘world’s largest outdoor party’, when more than 1 million people lined the River Thames to watch 1,000 boats sail down!

10) There will be four days of public celebration for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – An extended bank holiday, from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June.

We look forward to helping all your enquiries and orders on Monday. We hope you enjoy your weekend too!

Wildlife art by George Davies

If you’re anything like me then wildlife paintings will bring instant joy and a smile to your face. It was with great pleasure to come across George’s work and I finally get to share his emotive and expressive paintings with you all. Here’s what he had to say earlier this year;

“I’m a 17-year-old oil painter from Chester, England and I’m currently going into year 13. I’ve loved drawing and painting from an early age and my particular interest is wildlife, although I do try other subjects as well.

A Shady Spot

I dedicate most of my spare time to painting and creating ideas for new works, using my photos as well as some from friends for my reference. I have been inspired by many artists, but particularly painters such as David Shepherd, John Banovich and Andrew Tischler, who has been a great source of inspiration and personal advice. I love creating pictures of wildlife from different parts of the world, such as those inspired by trips to the West Coast of Scotland and photos from friends who have travelled around Africa. I have also painted a few portraits of family members and friends and I’m planning to do more in the future.


During the first lockdown I was given extra time and freedom to paint as I was unable to sit my GCSEs. I was able to start a series of African wildlife, some Arctic wildlife paintings and a couple of portrait commissions.”

I think you will agree with me that George is an amazing painter, a rising star and his hard work and raw talent deserves to be showcased.


Here are some of his achievements and exhibitions:

Exhibiting with Exhibition Wildlife Art July 2021

Exhibited at Gorstella Gallery 2019

Society of All Artists Young Artist and Junior Artist of the year

Exhibited at National Open Art, London

Member of the Association of Animal Artists

Check out his website www.georgelennondavies.co.uk

and his Instagram page now!

Artist Spotlight: Robert Trent

We were approached by Rob some time ago, conveying his love for our brushes! We are lucky enough to receive lots of these lovely emails – but this one was particularly special to us.
Rob was born disabled, and from a very early age was taught to write, draw and paint with the implement held between his teeth by his home tutor.
I recently asked Rob if he would be happy to be featured on the blog and thankfully he obliged, as I know our readers would be inspired. This is what he had to say:
“My tutor often told me about the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA), and to encourage me they sent me a set of paints.
Although I enjoyed painting, I left school and focussed on finding employment. In that time I got married and we had a daughter.
It was in 1998 that I successfully joined the MFPA as a Student Artist. Working full time meant it wasn’t until 2013 that I became an Associate Member.
In 2018 I retired from my job and threw myself into my painting. I found a brilliant art tutor, Kay Le Poidevin, who not only pushed me to try different styles of paintings, but who also introduced me to Rosemary Brushes.
Screenshot 2021-10-19 at 16.54.48
The brushes were a ‘game changer for me’. I found them really robust (a lot of my brushes previously got chewed up very easily), they allowed me to apply marks to my paintings in a much more thoughtful manner and best of all, I was able to choose the long handle brushes.
I’ve been using the brushes for three years, and last year I achieved my ambition of becoming a Full Member of the MFPA.
I’m also delighted that one of my paintings, produced using Rosemary Brushes, was selected as a card for this years MFPA Christmas pack!”
“Post Box Robins” Gift cards are available to purchase at this link:
Roberts Work can also be found on the MFPA website, check it out by clicking here!

The Beautiful Artwork of Phil Courtney

Phil Courtney is a long time user of Rosemary Brushes and it is about time we shared his absolutely stunning work with you all. Phil graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine arts located in Philadelphia and has been in the industry ever since. Exquisite both in Oil and Water colour,  Phil always manages to capture the beauty of his subject material.

flower-fireworks-lt_orig I am amazed how he gets his paintings to look so realistic, especially with the sheer size of the canvases, (some 41″ x 57″!). To get the perspective and proportion so on point, I think you will agree it can be a challenge even on a smaller scale, but Phil does it with such precision and realism, and I can only imagine the patience he puts into them!


The oil painting below -Magnolia Seed Pod  22″ x 54″ – oil on canvas, is featured in the July/August 2021 of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine and it was painted solely using only Rosemary brushes!

Magnolia Seed Pod

If you would like to see more of Phil’s fantastic work and to see his process, workshops and online shop, please check out his website: www.philcourtney.com


wooden-rabbit-web-72-res_origThank you Phil for allowing me to show off your art! The watercolours are my personal favourite, especially “The Wooden Rabbit”!