Painting white on white with Gouache: How I do it

Painting white on white with Gouache: How I do it

I recently launched my first art collection called The Rain Tree and the bird you’ll see me paint in the following video is a part of the collection. What’s special about this piece is that it’s a white bird painted on white paper and in this video, you’ll be able to see how I went about painting this. 

The process

The challenge in painting a white subject on a white background is making the subject stand out and pop. In this video, I am painting an Egret, which is a pure white bird on a white sheet of paper. 

To create some depth and make the bird pop, you’ll see me use slightly darker shades to add shadows and lighter shades to add highlights. I also mixed some warm and cool colours with white to create slight variations in the greys used for shading and break the monotony of pure white. 

You’ll also see me use different brush strokes to add texture. For instance, short feathery strokes bring out the softness in the feathers on the bird’s body. You’ll also notice how I’ve used the negative space (empty white space in the background) to make the bird the focal point. 

Of course, it takes a lot of patience, practice, and experimentation to get the image you have in your mind onto the paper. So, the trick is to keep at it, learn and try new techniques, and play with your style till you get there. 

The inspiration 

There was a plain ground opposite the balcony of the house I used to live in during the early years of my marriage and during the monsoons, this ground would completely fill up with stagnant water. It would look almost like a pond and this attracted these Egrets and they stayed for a good 2 to 3 months. They’d even fly onto the tree there and delicately perch atop it. To be honest I found this a bit hilarious but also interesting because these were relatively large birds with long necks and long legs. But being able to watch all this up close and observe their moods, conversations, and interactions inspired me to try and bring it to life on a piece of paper. 

For you

You can read the full story behind my collection on my website and check out all of the paintings. The Raintree Collection includes this piece along with 20 others and is now live on my website for viewing and purchase. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about my collection and any other tips and tricks you have up your sleeve for painting subjects on self-coloured backgrounds! 

If my collection inspired you to try your hand at painting with gouache, I’ve got a very beginner-friendly Skillshare class where you can learn how to paint a bird. I cover everything from basics of art like lines and shapes to colours and brush techniques and before you finish this short online course, you’ll have painted a beautiful bird!  

If you'd like to learn how to Sketch and Paint Birds in Gouache (or any other medium of your choice), check out my Skillshare class on the topic.

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