In my last blog I gave a brief description of the watercolor paper I like to use. My preference is Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. Hot Pressed. In this post I want to talk more about the many different watercolor paper weights and textures available to artists.
There are numerous papers on the market. The paper an artist chooses depends largely on the artist’s personal style and technique that she or he wants to achieve. In my paintings I love to capture the finest detail in my subject matter.
Watercolor papers contain sizing. Sizing is a gelatin like substance that helps to reduce the absorption of pigments into the paper. Without sizing, watercolor paints would be absorbed deep into the paper and painted edges would run and be less defined. Papers are sized internally and externally. Fabraino uses no animal by-products in their papers.
Fabriano Artistico papers are mould-made using 100% cotton and are acid free/pH neutral and chlorine-free. Today virtually all watercolor papers are acid free, but it’s always good to check! Some manufacturers like Arches and Fabriano offer bright white papers.
Papers are measured in weights. The thicker the paper the heavier the weight. Standard weights for papers are 90,140, 260, 300 lb. Artists can select from Hot Pressed, and Cold Pressed. Hot Pressed papers are very smooth which allows for the artist to get fine details, while Cold Pressed has a noticeable texture. The roughness of paper can depend on the manufacturer. Rough paper is just that, rough! Papers can be purchased in blocks, sheets or rolls.
I buy 20″ X 30″ sheets in packs of 10 from my local store, Guild Art Supply, here in Northampton, MA. I always handle my paper with clean hands because the oils in your fingers can leave unpleasant marks on your watercolor painting! If you buy single sheets pay close attention for any smudges on the paper that might mar your work.
Best advice, practice, practice, practice! Experiment with different papers and weights. Try various papers and learn from doing, then make the selection that best suits your style and technique.