One of the most frequent questions I get is: Do you do line first or paint first? And the answer to that is I go either way. If the composition jumps at me as shapes, then I’ll start with paint. Otherwise, it’s line.
This sketch of the Los Gatos Theater starts with pen line. I drew most of the line I wanted at the start and then moved to color. I finally came back to gouache highlights and some bolder line.
With this one of Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, I started with paint, went to line, then back to painting in the darks and last of all, some gouache highlights.
I’m a pretty liberal user of white gouache. I carry a tube of it with me and dip my brush directly into the tube. The way I thin of my whites is: I like to leave them as paper when I can. But when leaving a highlight would mean carefully painting around it and would take away from the freedom of a brushstroke, then it’s a gouache highlight.