Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What is the best watercolour paper?

It’s the hardy perennial that’s asked whenever a group of amateur artist’s get together and there just isn't a 'best' watercolour paper. When you ask around artists will just express their personal preferences.

I've only ever encountered one really difficult watercolour paper and that was a smooth Fabriano 5 - they probably market it under a different name now – and not all Fabriano papers are bad. It soaked up the colour like blotting paper and you couldn't lift off or sponge out. If these little tricks are a regular part of your repertoire then best abandon the paper and try something else. Maybe the sheets I bought came from a faulty batch which had not been properly sized. It wasn’t wasted though it took gouache and acrylic quite nicely so it was used up.

When pressed almost any surface can be used for drawing or painting. I was once in a café at The Hermitage on South Island, New Zealand which has a perfect view of Mount Cook . I just had to draw it and used a serviette and a fibre tipped pen. I later mounted the drawing in a sketchbook using acrylic medium so the memory is preserved.

Nowadays I buy Arches, Langton, or Waterford simply on the basis of who's offering the best deal. Miserly old scrooge you're all probably thinking!

1 comment:

John Salmon said...

Hi Robert, hope you are keeping well. I was a dyed in the wool Arches fan and persuaded everyone I came into contact with that they should use it too.

I was then given (by my wife would you believe) a bockingford pad which I looked down my nose at for months. A time arose when I wanted to do a quick sketch and the pad was just the right size.

I was amazed at how forgiving this paper was. I bought 100 1/4 sheets and thoroughly enjoyed using it.

In the last few days I went back to the Arches and have found it to be over-absorbent and not at all as friendly as the Bock. I haven't given up on it for good. I will go back eventually but they all appear to have their better and sometimes annoying qualities.

You have to use them for some time before you can get to know them thoroughly. Frustrating but necessary.