What About Paper?

A Little Sketch from the New Park in the Village of Walloon

Such a beautiful day to be out painting with friends!  Perfect.
Wednesday wrapped up my summer classes. Bitter sweet.  My friend and co-instructor, Cathy, and I have book binding workshops coming up, starting Monday morning.  After those I will start my regular weekly watercolor class.

In the last journal class I did, there were several questions about paper, sketchbooks, and brushes.  I am not an expert on any of these, but I do know what I like  -  does that ever really count?  Also, I love to give my opinion.

When I first started to do watercolor, I was lead to believe that it was unprofessional to use anything but 300 lb paper.  I wasn't crazy about it.  I really liked the way 140 lb paper took the paint.  I have always preferred Arches watercolor paper to any other.

I think the main difference between brands of paper is the "sizing" or the finish.  Sizing is what gives it the properties that make it suitable for watercolor  -  some brands more suitable than others.  To me, the sizing or finish of the paper is more important than the weight.  There are some pretty bad 140# watercolor papers out there.

Practicing on cheaper paper isn't practicing at all.  You will never get the hang of what watercolor can do if you're using an inferior paper.  I think "getting it right' is worth the price of a good piece of paper. I suggest going together with a friend or two and ordering 25 sheets of Arches 140# from Daniel Smith or Cheap Joe's.  A 25 sheet pack of Arches 140 cold press will run a little over $100 plus shipping.  Get on their emailing lists and get notifications of sales and reduced shipping.

Fabriano Artistico is a pretty popular paper too.  I haven't tried it, so I really can't say, but I do know some very serious artists that use it.

Watercolor paper comes in different textures;
     Cold press  -  has a nice texture that gives a little sparkle of white paper when you drag your color over it.
     Hot press  -  is smooth, but not slick.  It's pretty unforgiving  -  the color just does not move around on it.
     Rough  -  is just that  -  a rough texture. That's not a bad thing.

If you're not bored to death yet, I'll say a little something about watercolor blocks.  They come in various sizes from very small to pretty large, and they are edged with a glue/tape binding on all four sides.  This edging holds the paper flat so it doesn't buckle (it still does a little bit) while you are painting on it.  Each sheet is left on the block until the painting is finished, then removed, exposing the next clean sheet of paper.  With their heavy backing, they are convenient to take on location or to class.

Don't confuse blocks with watercolor tablets or spiral pads.   I really have never seen a tablet of good watercolor paper.  That, of course, doesn't meant there aren't any just because I've never seen one.

Maybe I pushed Arches paper a little too hard.  I don't have an interest in the company, or in Daniel Smith or Cheap Joe's.  I recommend Arches because that is what I have always used and I like the way it handles. I told you I like to give my opinion.  For what it's worth, huh?

Okay  -  this house is a mess.  A summer's worth of dumping art supplies here and there.  Oh, my gosh, it was fun!

Have a great weekend.  Take your sketchbook sketching.



Sharon said...

I love your art and your blog. Thank you for your opinion on the paper. I also like arches and need to use it more. At quality art You can get 5 sheets for $22.80. I shop there a lot.

Catherine said...

Sharon - thanks for your kind comment! And thanks for telling us about Quality Art. 5 sheets of paper at about the same price per sheet as the 25 pack - good to know!

Cindy said...

Thank you! I've learned so much!