Saturday, March 26, 2016

Not all papers are created equal

Recently, I treated myself and bought a couple of sheets of handmade 640 g/m² (300lb) watercolour paper made in Canada. The paper is made of cotton rag and has double sizing (internal starch and surface non animal gelatin) and it has lovely irregular texture.
I was excited about this paper, and without trying it out first, I jumped in to create full sheet landscape for an old window frame that I have.  I wet the paper to apply the sky and this is where I started running into problems. The 300lbs paper buckled quite a bit which was a surprise since I use 300lbs paper from other brands all the time.  The paint was drawn in the paper like a sponge. Then when I tried lifting the paper, the surface produced small balls of paper.  It was pilling like an old sweater.

Maybe this was a bad batch of paper, I don't know.  I certainly will be cutting up the other sheet of paper into smaller pieces and using them for paintings that will require less paper handling. 
I guess that some handmade watercolour papers are tougher than others and this is due to subtle variations in the way they are made. For instance, the fiber selection used, the pressure used to consolidate the sheet and the concentration and method used to harden the gelatin size, will all affect how the paper reacts. 
Therefore, since the quality, properties and prices of these papers depend on where they were made, some experimentation is advised.

My biggest disappointment is that I was hoping that I could be using a Canadian product.

This week's artist find is David Taylor.
David Taylor Watercolour
Have a great week,

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