Learn How to Paint in Watercolour
They often ask me,“where do I start, what do I need to buy”, “how do I know what is the best paper to use”?
Papers ‘aint’ just papers!
There are a huge number of watercolour papers available today. It is important to know the difference between these papers and how you can choose a paper suitable for what you wish to achieve.
You will notice that some papers are much more expensive than others. This is because they are manufactured differently and are made from different materials.
You can basically divide all the papers into two main groups. These are the pure (100%) cotton or rag papers and those that are not! The pure papers are more expensive but are essential, even more so when starting out, as they provide a surface that is more receptive to wash work.
The papers that are not 100% cotton are usually a blend of cotton and synthetic fibres. They can be used for quick ‘brush work’ and ‘sketches’, but are not good when building up a painting with successive ‘glazes’. The paint tends to sit on the surface of the paper and often lifts when applying another wash which can result in a ‘muddy’ look.
The price usually gives a fair indication of whether a paper is pure cotton or not. Some common brands available are:- Fabriano, Arches, Saunders Waterford, Blue Lake and Llana Aquarelle, Art Spectrum.
Papers such as Cotman, and Canson are not pure cotton or rag papers. Don’t rely on what the front cover or the sales assistant tells you. If it is a pure 100% cotton or rag paper it will usually say so, somewhere on the front if it is a pad or will have one of the brand names imprinted on one corner if it is a full sheet.
Once you have found a good pure paper, you then have a choice of surface texture. They usually are available in a smooth finish (sometimes called ‘hot press’), a medium finish (sometimes called ‘cold pressed’) or a rough finish.
Cold pressed or rough are the most popular choices as they both produce beautiful washes that can be layered. The smooth or ‘hot press’ papers are for the more experienced painters as the paint tends to run around on top of the paper and results in little ‘blooms’ sometimes called ‘cauliflowers’ or ‘runs’. Contrary to what the name suggests it is quite hard to achieve a smooth wash on ‘hot pressed’ or ‘smooth’ paper.
Thickness (weight) of Paper
The thickness or ‘weight’ of paper is referred to as ‘gsm’. Good watercolour papers usually come in three choices of thickness or ‘weight’; 185gsm, 300gsm or 640gsm. The most commonly used is the 300gsm. The thicker papers are very resilient but also much more expensive. The thinner paper can ‘buckle’ a little and is and may require ‘stretching’.
Stay tuned for my next Watercolour Painting Article! Watercolor Brushes!
You can Learn “How to Paint in Watercolour”.
Landscapes and the human figure.
If you want to give Watercolour Painting a try, go to my lessons website for either a downloadable Video or Printable lesson.
Keep tuned as I will be recording more lessons soon!