Friday, March 9

Which Watercolor Paper Is Best For Me?

I am convinced more than ever about the type of watercolor paper and the role it plays in your paintings. I started to use the word “quality” rather than “type” in the previous sentence, but thought better of it. One painter’s quality, expensive paper may be the bane of another painter who swears by an inexpensive brand and vice versa.

I do think that painters should, no must, try out a variety of different types and brands of watercolor paper if they want to find out which one suits their style of painting best.

Previously I have painted on 300-lb. (640gsm), cold-press watercolor paper from a highly regarded manufacturer. I painted on this paper exclusively for about two years, so I didn’t really have anything to compare it to.

Then I inadvertently bought several sheets of hot-press paper. I was immediately unhappy. Since hot-press paper is relatively smooth compared to cold-press, I was not used to the paint moving around so freely.

I have more control with cold-press paper (considering the medium), and I like it that way. Although I may be doing myself a disservice by not using hot-press, it did make me appreciate the natural attributes of cold-press.

I recently painted on a couple of well-known brands of mass marketed watercolor papers that are sold in hobby and craft stores as well as most all art supply stores in the U.S. Both were 140-lb. (300gsm). Admittedly, I was curious to know if a less expensive paper would make a difference.

It did. Since each came in a pad, one with 12 and the other 15 sheets, I felt compelled to use all of it. Since it was relatively cheaper, I experimented freely with different amounts and ratios of paint to water. I did not like the finish of either brand, and, more importantly, I found both to be too absorbent.

For me that meant the water was absorbed into the paper so quickly that by the time I applied paint, it more or less stayed in one spot and did not disperse as much as I would like. I found this annoying. I then had to use more water than I'm comfortable with, and using too much water has its own consequences. 

I don’t think the size or color of paper makes a whole lot of difference except to the painter who may prefer a larger or smaller sheet depending on his or her taste and ability to paint large and/or small.  I think color affects one’s ability to judge values as you paint, not the actual act of painting.

I am currently waiting for an online order for a pad of 140-lb. (300gsm) rough paper  to arrive. It is from the same manufacturer as the 300-lb. paper that I have used before. I have never before used rough paper, but I am looking forward to trying it out.
Maybe I will find it to be “the one” that will take my paintings to the place I want them to be. We’ll see.

 Keep on Painting

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