Sunday, October 19, 2008

Watercolor paper...the good and the bad!

There are many types of watercolor papers available, especially if you visit a special supplier. However, in most hobby/art shops you will find only 3 basic categories: smooth or hot pressed, medium or cold pressed, or rough (cold pressed with texture). The all around favorite is cold pressed .

Watercolor paper comes in different weights with the heavier ones being more expensive. Weights are expressed as lbs. per ream. Most sketchbooks contain paper of 140 lb. These work best; any thinner and the paper will buckle more easily when paint is applied.

There are two schools of thought on stretching paper. Some artists insist that stretching is necessary before painting and others do not. I find, however, if I use 140 lb. paper and tape the paper to my board, I don't need to stretch the paper first.

The Good
I would recommend 140lb. cold pressed paper. Above is a photo of 2 types of watercolor paper - both 140 lb. cold pressed. Both papers are the same brand: the one on the left is slightly more expensive and a professional grade. However, I have had excellent results with either one.

The Bad
90 lb. paper is available in all hobby/art shops, but I would not recommend this weight. It is very difficult for a beginner to work with since it buckles so easily.

Watercolor paper can be purchased in large sheets as well; however, it is more expensive. I would not recommend this type of paper for the beginner as I have seen beginner watercolor artists nervous about using the more expensive paper; therefore, they are tentative and will not allow themselves to enjoy the experience of painting. As confidence is developed, more expensive paper can be used.

I usually purchase 11" x 15" paper. This size can be cut down for smaller paintings. An 11" x 15" painting is a good size for a beginner. A pack of 12 sheets of 140 lb. cold press paper usually sells for less than $8.

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