Tips for selecting the right Watercolor Paper

It’s not uncommon for people to feel daunted and confused by the sheer volume of paper choices whenever they walk into an art shop. Perhaps the last time you walked into one you got flustered and decided to walk out. When it comes to watercolor painting, it’s important to choose the right quality paper as it is the foundation of your artwork. Choosing the right watercolor paper for your painting work doesn’t have to be as daunting and confusing as it seems to be.

Quality and Production

The first thing you want to think about is the quality you want. Are you looking for an artist-grade or student-grade paper? Note that watercolor papers can be handmade, machine-made, or mold-made. Both hand-made and mold-made watercolor papers are stable and durable with irregular surface textures that are pleasing to work with. Papers made by hand are more stable and stronger though. You should, therefore, consider handmade papers if you’re looking for artists’ quality papers. Machine-made papers are often used for student’s quality artwork as they are less-costly and prone to deterioration especially when wet.

Watercolor Paper Texture

When it comes to texture, it often depends on your individual painting style as well as personal preference. There are three watercolor paper textures; the hot press paper, cold press paper, and rough paper. The hot pressed paper is preferable for artists who love detailed work as it has a smooth, hard surface. The most versatile and popular texture- cold pressed watercolor paper has a lightly, semi-rough textured surface. Finally, the rough watercolor paper is suitable for painters looking to add luminosity and visual interest in their artwork due to its rough texture that’s good for washes.

Weight Matters

Watercolor papers are measured by weight- numbered in grams per square meter or pounds per ream. Usually, the heavier the weight of a paper, the pricier and studier it is. If you’re planning to use a lot of washes during painting, then its best you choose a thicker paper. A 90 pound paper is best used with less water and won’t survive a lot of abrasion and scrubbing. The most commonly used water color paper- the 140 pound paper, can handle a bit of water and abrasion or scrubbing. The 300 pound watercolor paper is as thick as cardboard and doesn’t need stretching.

Watercolor sheets, Pads, and Blocks

Watercolor papers are commonly packaged in individual sheets, blocks, or pads. Buying individual sheets is great for larger works and also allows you to tear them down to your preferred sizes. If you’re looking to keep your artwork as a collection, consider pads with a spiral binder. Blocks are usually bound around the edges making them easy to transport. While you won’t have to stretch the paper before using it the fact that you need to remove each of the 20-25 sheets to start another piece of painting makes it problematic.

In conclusion, understand that there’s no one best watercolor paper for artwork. However, there’s only what works best for your specific artwork. Consider experimenting with various brands and different kinds of watercolor papers to find what best works for you.