Monday Morning Art School: watercolor paper

Monday Morning Art School: watercolor paper

Clary Hill Blueberry Barrens, watercolor on Yupo, ~24X36, $3985 framed incorporates shipping and handling in continental US.

“I was pondering if you can deal with the distinct kinds, weights and rag written content of watercolor paper and what they are greatest for,” a pupil questioned. Positive, despite the fact that I clearly can not converse about every single paper on the sector.

There are a few normal varieties of watercolor paper. (There is also a plastic merchandise known as Yupo, which is non-absorbent so acts fully otherwise than paper. It is a gasoline to use.)

Chilly press has become a favorite mainly because it offers you good washes, scumbling, and reasonably superior element.

Cold Press has a moderately-textured area. This is the most common paper employed today due to the fact it’s remarkably absorbent, makes it possible for for some element, but also makes it possible for for damaged washes and scumbling.

Rough is a deeply-textured surface area. It is the most absorbent paper. It’s great for broken washes and scumbling, but you can’t get substantially detail on it.

Very hot Push or Bristol has a clean surface. It arrives in various surfaces, ranging from plate (hugely polished) to vellum. It’s outstanding for detail work, earning it a favored of illustrators. The the very least absorbent of the papers, it’s also the least complicated to elevate colour from. (I have this Strathmore Bristol notebook with me at all occasions since it is great for pencil, ink and watercolor.)

Tough will give you excellent damaged washes but really don’t approach on painting depth.

What is sizing?

All watercolor papers have sizing added to maintain the paint on the floor. Sizing may be gelatin (conventional) or a artificial product. Sizing stops paint from sinking and spreading into the paper. With no it, paper is just a huge, uncontrollable sponge.

How essential is 100% rag or cotton?

Rag implies papers made with cotton textile remnants, which have a extended fiber than cotton linters. Nonetheless, with so lots of synthetic fibers in contemporary textiles, the cotton rag supply is dwindling. Cotton linters (byproducts of cotton processing) are now either the chief or only fiber in 100% cotton paper.

Cotton paper is superior in toughness and toughness to wood pulp-centered paper. It will not yellow as swiftly (while the sizing can also trigger yellowing), as it does not consist of the significant concentrations of acids that are in wood pulp. However, numerous non-rag watercolor papers are now acid-absolutely free as properly.

Cotton fiber is much more absorbent than wooden pulp. Since the fibers are more time, it tolerates far more lifting and scrubbing than wood pulp.

There are areas where by fiber material does not issue. For quick color scientific studies, grisailles, and other transient functions I use Strathmore 400, which is a reasonable paper. To get 100% cotton, I’d need to have to action up to Strathmore 500.

One particular of my several sketches in a Bristol Visual Journal.

How can I notify if a paper is 100% cotton?

If it’s not labeled 100% cotton, you can think it is not. Some typical cotton papers are Fabriano Artistico, Arches, Stonehenge, Winsor & Newton, and Hahnemhle, while of training course there are several other people, which include the aforementioned Strathmore 500.

Body weight

Watercolor papers appear in three fat classes:

Mild – 90 lb.
Medium – 140 lb.
Major – 300 lb.

For comparison, duplicate paper is 24 lb.

90 lb. watercolor paper requires stretching and/or mindful taping or clipping. In general, most painters use 140 lb., which doesn’t buckle apart from if thoroughly saturated. 300 lb. paper is for functioning quite wet/very massive.

A thumbnail sketch on Bristol. My present desire is for smoother, more difficult surfaces. (Make sure you excuse the paucity of illustrations in this article I’m absent from my studio and hunting for dribs and drabs on my computer system.)


Watercolor paper comes in quite a few formats:

Blocks are glued on all 4 sides. The completed painting is eliminated by slitting the glue with a knife when dry. Since they’re stabilized, they can consider really a little bit of drinking water with out buckling. They also obviate the need for a independent aid board.

Pads: Whilst not as stable as blocks, most pads get the job done effectively more than enough with a one binder clip and a help board. They are usually considerably less high priced.

Unfastened sheets: These need to have to be taped or clipped down with binder clips, but give size flexibility and expense considerably less than blocks.

Rolls: The most expense-helpful way to obtain watercolor paper, this is also the only way to make quite massive watercolor paintings.

My 2024 workshops:

  • Painting in Paradise: Rockport, ME, July 8-12, 2024.
  • Sea & Sky at Schoodic, August 4-9, 2024.
  • Uncover your authentic voice in plein air: Berkshires, August 12-16, 2024.
  • Artwork and Experience at Sea: Paint Aboard Schooner American Eagle, September 15-19, 2024.
  • Immersive In-Human being Workshop: Rockport, ME, October 7-11, 2024.