Chat Noir

I found some ink bottles in a drawer in my studio. Some of them have been there a very long time, possibly from my university days. I’m not sure if the ink is still good, but the shapes are great for drawing.

I drew them first with a very soft 6B Cretacolor pencil on Strathmore 400 toned tan paper. I didn’t erase mistakes in the drawing because I know the paint will mostly cover them.

For gouache painting, I use a Stay-Wet palette which has a sponge inside and keeps the gouache damp for many days. I squeezed out some Ultramarine, Alizarin and Cadmium Yellow, along with white and black.

My first layer was the background. The wash was quite thin because I like to let some of the tan paper show through. I painted right over the transparent bottles because you want that background colour to show through, and it can be hard to match later. It’s much easier to paint it first and cover it up after, if need be.

The next layer was the main colours of glass as well as labels. With a limited palette I can get all the colours I need for this.

I forgot to take a picture after I added the shadows because I was also taking some time lapse video of the process, but here’s the final scanned sketch.

Here’s a little video clip of the last part of the process. I haven’t figured out the perfect camera angle yet, but that will come in time, hopefully.

22 Comments on “Chat Noir”

  1. John Clews says:

    Hi Shari, Could I ask, do you use designer or artist gouache? and do you have a favourite brand? Best wishes John

    Sent from my iPad



    • Hi John, I use both. Most colours are Winsor Newton Designer gouache but I have Holbein White Artists Gouache. Do you know the difference? I don’t.


      • I’m starting to fumble around with gouache myself. I think the difference between “designers gouache” and “artists gouache” is that the former rely more heavily on opacifiers to achieve their opacity rather than high pigment density. James Gurney has talked about this a lot. He has a long blog post containing responses from manufacturers about their gouache products.


  2. Chris Rusk says:

    Really nice


  3. Thank you!! Perfect timing. First, I am using a dinner plate for a palette and the paints are drying in about 5 minutes. A Stay-Wet Palette is in my future! Second, I am just winging it with gouache at this stage, so seeing step-by-step is helpful. I’ll still be winging it, but it’s nice to see someone who knows what she’s doing! I don’t know how you manage to finish a painting nearly every day, but it’s wonderful and I enjoy seeing what you create. Thanks!


    • Jean. I’m glad I was able to help. It’s really a great palette and it helped so much when I found it. As for working in gouache, I am still winging it too, but you already seem to have a lot of practice with wings so you should be painting many more birds in gouache soon. Judging by your first try, you’ve already nailed it.


  4. joantav says:

    Thanks for sharing your steps in this gouache painting. I have worked with it a bit, but it is great to see your steps and read your thought process.


  5. Judy Sopher says:

    I also learn by seeing your method as you paint. The final painting is great. The highlights make all the difference. I used to have one of those palettes for acrylics. Never thought to use it for gouache. Don’t know if I can find it.

    Do you set up a background behind your objects? How do you do this?


  6. Denise says:

    This was so inspiring! Now I have to go out and get some gouache paints😀


  7. Ellen Jenkins says:

    Hello Shari. Thank you for sharing your process for gouache and basic pigments that you use. Now I also can go out and get some gouache paints! I love the ink bottles as subjects. I have all sorts of little favorite things to paint that I never thought of until seeing this! Thank you always for sharing your painting adventures ☀️


  8. Suzanne says:


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Uma Maheswar Nakka says:

    Good Afternoon Dear Shari,

    Your step wise presentation is really adorable.

    Once again you proved, person, place or anything in the world are qualified to be the subject of any art or literature.

    God bless you,
    Regards- Uma


  10. Elaine says:

    That came out really cool ~


  11. Timoceno says:

    Nice work, Shari. This sketch has a Wayne Thibeaud feel and a luscious wet look. Keep them coming.


    • Thanks so much. I’m having fun with these gouache paintings.


      • Marie says:

        Amazing work! I just found your work from a google search for gouache! Do you sell any tutorial videos for gouache? There isn’t that many out there with your style – trying to learn gouache after Watercolor and it’s been very difficult – your Watercolor and gouache work are wonderful!


      • HI Marie, Thanks so much for writing. I hope to offer tutorials in gouache very soon on my new teaching site ( I have been asked by so many people, so it is coming soon. Thanks for asking!


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