Paper is the most overlooked element when one is a beginner. Somehow, beginners tend to think that the paper is the least important choice.
They are wrong… the paper makes all the difference in the paint staying where you put it and blooming in the right way. Have you ever had issues with your wet-on-wet going awry? It could have been your paper.
Don't worry, we've got you covered! Today I'll give you some tips on how to select the perfect watercolor paper for your artwork. We also have a mini course that is included in your monthly membership where Diane Bradley goes into detail with some examples.
First things first, ingredients. Watercolor paper can be made from cotton, wood pulp, or a combination of both. Cotton paper is the most effective choice as it's durable, absorbent, and can handle multiple washes without tearing. Wood pulp paper is less expensive and less durable, but it can still produce beautiful results as long as you are careful with the amount of water you use.
Basically, any tutorial you find online that uses water heavily (wet on wet or similar techniques) will need you to practice on 100% cotton paper in order to be able to duplicate the instructors’ results.
You COULD use cellulose-based heavy drawing paper, but you will have to be very careful about the amount of water you use. Sometimes letting the paint dry will allow you to continue later but when blending is involved the paper might be unforgiving and buckle.
When using the wrong paper, the watery paint might just slide right off the page not giving you any chance to blend as it is running away from you. If this is an issue you have run into in the past, try the 100% cotton paper.
Second, consider weight and texture. The weight of the paper determines its thickness, and the texture refers to the surface finish. Hot-pressed paper is smooth and great for detailed work. Cold-pressed paper is slightly textured and the most popular choice for watercolor painting. Rough paper has a heavily textured surface. It is perfect for keeping the paint where you put it without having to chase it all over the page when you’re using a lot of water.
It's also important to choose acid-free paper. Acidic paper can cause your artwork to yellow and deteriorate over time. Acid-free paper is archival quality and will ensure that your artwork lasts for many years to come. Fortunately, most of the best watercolor paper brands we recommend are acid-free and archival quality.
For the best results choose a reputable brand that produces high-quality paper. Some nice brands I have personally tried are Arches, Fabriano, Hahnemühle, Baohong, Baohong Academy, and Strathmore.
Do take a look at the "How To Pick The Right Type Of Watercolor Paper" taught by award-winning artist Diane Bradley. She actually created a series of these mini-courses that are perfect for beginners. We will talk about the other ones in the coming weeks.
In this course, Diane shares some technical tips on how to select the best watercolor paper for your paintings. She explains the different types of paper based on their weight, ingredients and the impact it has on the final result of your painting. Diane also talks about the difference between the hot press, cold press, and rough paper.
One of the most important things Diane covers is how each type of paper affects the texture and finish of your painting. She shows you which one to for your specific needs. She also goes into detail about the methods for protecting the final presentation of your art.
If you've been struggling to find the right type of paper for your paintings, this can answer some of your questions. Diane's expertise and guidance will help you create beautiful and long-lasting artwork.
Here is the link to Diane's Paper Selection Mini Course.