It’s Back to School time, so I thought it would be a great time to go back to basics, Watercolor Basics. Let’s talk about paper. When I first started out in watercolor I was using the wrong paper. Watercolor paper is specially designed for watercolor paint – it has texture, absorbs the paint, and can withstand a good amount of “working” at your painting before the paper starts to break down.
I resisted at first because I wanted a very white paper. I was using a paper that had a coating on it and the coating was preventing the paper from absorbing the paint. Eventually I found watercolor papers that were the cool white I wanted. Once I made the switch I realized what a difference the paper actually makes.
I now use cold pressed paper. What does that mean? According to watercoloraffair.com,
“In a nutshell, the terms “hot press” and “cold press” refer to the paper’s surface finish or texture. Cold pressed paper has a slightly bumpy, textured surface. But hot pressed paper has a smooth surface finish. You will also hear artists talking about the tooth of the paper.”
The paper I use most often is Fluid Easy Block Fluid Watercolor Blocks, most often the 9″ x 12″ size.
Watercolor Paper Tips:
- Always use watercolor paper or a multimedia paper – this is the multimedia sketchbook I use.
- Before I paint, I trim my paper to 9″ x 11″. This creates a painting that fits nicely in mats and frames for 8″ x 10″ artwork. Before I started trimming the paper my paintings were too long for the mats and too much wasn’t visible in a standard mat. I use this mat set for 8″ x 10″ artwork. It includes the mat, backing board, and a clear bag to protect your matted artwork.
- Always tape down your paper to a board using painter’s tape. I use the cardboard back of old art pads. The cardboard needs to be larger than your paper.I use a painter’s tape like this one. I prefer tape that is less than an inch wide. The reason for taping down your paper is that water and paint causes paper to buckle. Taping your paper to a board helps keep the paper flat.
- It is important to use the correct side of the paper. The side facing up when you take a sheet off the pad. If you have trouble keeping track – make a small pencil x mark on the back side of the paper.
- Even though the paper is made for watercolor — Don’t rub your brush too hard or the paper will start to come apart. This can also happen when you overwork a section of your painting.
Ready to get started in watercolor? Check out “Beginner Watercolor Exploration.”
- Learn the fundamentals.
- Practice with exercises and projects.
- Discover a love of watercolor!
Start your watercolor journey today! Learn more here.
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