I will be starting the Intermediate Watercolor class for card makers over at Online Card Classes here in a few days. As part of that class I have purchased some new papers, a few new paints and have been experimenting. So far the type of paper has made a huge impact on my results. I have a 12 tube set of “cheap” watercolors and 3 primary colors in a professional grade watercolor. I did some color swatching and the paper seemed to matter more than the paint at this point.
Here I have 3 papers. The bottom being Arches hot press, which I haven’t played with yet. The middle is Strathmore 300 series cold press (a student grade paper) and the topmost is Arches cold press 140lb. The color of the papers are different as you can see. But what you can’t see is that the textures are quite different as well. The Arches has a finer tooth, with almost a sandpapery feel. I honestly don’t like the way it feels. But as you can see from the color swatches in the next photo, the paper behaves how you would expect a watercolor paper to behave. The Strathmore paper ended up very blotchy for nearly all of my color swatches. I just showed a few of the worst samples below.
In each of the samples the Strathmore is on the right and the Arches on the left. Notice how solid and smooth the color is on the Arches and how blotchy it is on the Strathmore. I’ve heard the term granulating in the watercolor world recently and I thought this splotchiness was what they meant. Now I know it is the paper that is doing that and not the paint! (All of these colors are from my cheap set of paints.)
I think why this is happening is that the Strathmore is a less absorbent paper. The water would float on top of the paper and swirl around as I was using it. The Arches just sucks water and color into the paper. It was a little disconcerting since I was used the the Strathmore and the very fluidness that I’ve come to associate with watercoloring. The Arches, I had to mix up large pools of color and keep reloading my brush to get good coverage. I feel like I’m using way more paint on the Arches, which means more money. But for prettier results, I guess that is the price you pay!
I’ll be back tomorrow with some more progress on my watercolor explorations, so stay tuned.