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Gouache is a type of paint similar to watercolor but modified to be used in an opaque method. The paint consists of pigment, a binding agent and some added inert material such as chalk. The inert material enhances the reflective quality of gouache, making it heavier and opaque altogether. The light in watercolor is provided by the white of the paper whereas gouache forms a thick layer thus not allowing the paper to show through. Thus unlike watercolor in which one has to reserve the white area and preplan because mistakes cannot be fixed, gouache enables one to fix mistakes and re-paint. But too thick application of the paint can cause the painting to crack off, especially when there is high percentage of chalk. Gouache is a highly versatile and a quick drying medium, that can be applied on a variety of surfaces and can be used as a wash like watercolor, dry brush like acrylic and even blends like oil paints.

Mary Cassatt, Portrait of the Artist, 1878, gouache on wove paper laid down to buff-colored wood-pulp paper; 23 5/8 x 16 13/16 in.