ART ADVICE

Paper Paper Paper

Where do you start?

As a watercolourist the surface you paint on is
of paramount importance – the better the paper
the easier it is for your paint to do its job!

What is a watercolour paper usually made of?

The highest quality papers are made of 100% cotton fibre which is beaten into individual fibres, creating a soup-like consistency, and then moulded into sheets. These papers can handle a lot of action, reworking, erasing and scrubbing and still last for up to 100 years. Other papers are made of cellulose or wood pulp or a mixture of these with cotton – these aren’t always as hardy as the rag paper.

Cheaper papers are available but tend not to be acid free and will have a tendency to yellow and deteriorate over time. Treat yourself to the best watercolour paper you can afford – watercolour painting can be tricky, so the better the paper the more likely you are to have good results.

Take the Rough with the smooth

Watercolour paper comes in three main textures:
Cold Pressed or NOT – this has a medium textured surface or ‘tooth’ created by a process of pressing the wet paper to smooth the surface very slightly before drying. This surface holds colour well, making it the most popular choice for both amateurs and professionals.
Rough or Extra Rough – this has a more pronounced texture, a result of letting the paper dry without pressing or smoothing. It is great for loose painting, where the paint skims over the paper and creates wonderful textures to enhance the overall effect
Hot Pressed – this is very smooth and is made by passing the paper through heated rollers in the manufacturing process. It’s ideal for controlled and detailed paintings such as botanical works and for sketching, drawing and pen and ink work.

Weights and measures?

Watercolour papers come in different weights which refers to the weight of a ream of paper, not the weight of an individual sheet. The greater the weight, the more water the paper can take without buckling or cockling, thus avoiding the need for stretching the paper before painting. The most commonly used is 300g/m2 which is suitable for all types of watercolour and unless you are working very wet it should not need stretching. The heavier and better quality the paper, generally the stronger it will be and therefore it will stand up to rougher treatment.

Think about size

So, you’ve chosen your texture, and your weight – now you need to select the right size for your type of work. The sizing of paper is not totally straightforward but as a rough guide:

• Full imperial = 76 x 56cm = 30 x 22” – a bit smaller than A1
• 1/2 imperial = 56 x 38cm = 22 x 15” – a bit smaller than A2
• 1/4 imperial = 38 x 28cm = 11 x 15” – a bit smaller than A3
• 1/8 imperial = 28 x 19cm = 7.5 x 11” – a bit smaller than A4

Tip: Whatever your medium, do not allow your painting to be constrained by the size of your support – if you work on small surfaces, your paintings will always be small, if you work on larger surfaces, your work can go either way. Allow yourself to try both – you may find the freedom of a larger support frees up your paintings.

Tips For Finding The Right Support

• Ask other artists for their recommendations
• Experiment to find what works best for you
• Don’t let the size of support determine the size of your paintings
• By all means use cheaper paper to practise on, but for the final version buy the best you can afford (especially for watercolour)

New pads and blocks from the SAA Home Shop 

SAA Pads From St Cuthbert’s Paper Mill, situated in the ancient cathedral City of Wells in the south west of England where they have been making paper since the 1700s’ comes a new classic range of SAA Saunders Waterford pads and Bockingford pads, each with a stylish cover to protect your work.

The Saunders Waterford pads comprise 15 sheets of 300gsm (140lb) paper available in 1/8th and 1/4 imperial sizes in either Hot Pressed, NOT or Rough finishes.

The Bockingford pads also have 15 sheets of 300gsm (140lb) paper and are available in 1/4 and 1/8th Imperial sizes in either NOT or Rough finishes.  These new SAA pads are ideal for all studio work but also great for taking out and about.

These new SAA pads are ideal for all studio work but also great for
taking out and about.

See page 78 of your Annual Catalogue 2013/14 for the full range and special prices for SAA members. 

What is the difference between Saunders Waterford and Bockingford?

Saunders Waterford is made of 100% cotton or rag which is pretty tough and doesn’t damage easily whereas Bockingford is a cellulose based paper whose surface is more easily damaged with rubbing out, pressure marks and removing masking fluid or masking tape.

The way you work will determine which paper you should choose: if you work wet in wet with no initial drawing then Bockingford is ideal, if however you are prone to rubbing out, masking or scraffito work then Saunders Waterford is the one for you.

Blocks

If you don’t fancy pre-stretching your paper and don’t want to risk your paper cockling watercolour paper blocks can provide the perfect solution without the expense of a heavier paper.

Botanical Watercolour Blocks

Renowned botanical artist Michael Lakin chooses only the finest paper for his botanical paintings and has worked closely with the SAA to create his new Block Pads which comprise 10 sheets of 300gsm Hot Pressed paper from either the Fabriano Classico 5 or Fabriano Artistico ranges (275 x 375mm). The pads are glued on all four sides with a small opening to split the pages once your painting is dry. 

The Fabriano Classico 5 is an exceptionally smooth mould made, 50% cotton, acid free watercolour paper recommended by the Royal Society of Botanical Artists. The smooth strong white surface makes it the most popular paper for botanical art.

The Fabriano Artistico is a mould made, 100% cotton watercolour paper. This is the finest paper manufactured by the Italian paper mill. Exceptionally smooth to the touch, it contains no optical brighteners or chlorine, is acid free and pH neutral and therefore is highly ‘work’ and eraser resistant. The internal and surface sizing makes for perfect colour take up and allows all watercolour techniques.

Fabriano High White Blocks. Another addition to the range are the new Fabriano Artistico High White Watercolour Paper Blocks available in small, medium and large sizes in either Hot Pressed, Rough or NOT finishes. This new High White paper enhances the vibrancy of your colours really making your paintings sing.

See page 82 of your Home Shop Annual catalogue for more details. You will find a comprehensive range of watercolour papers in your SAA Home Shop Annual Catalogue 2013/14 and at www.saa.co.uk, in all shapes and sizes from full imperial sheets right down to 3.5" x 2.5" Artist’s Trading Cards!


ART ADVICE

Paper Paper Paper

Where do you start?

As a watercolourist the surface you paint on is
of paramount importance – the better the paper
the easier it is for your paint to do its job!

What is a watercolour paper usually made of?

The highest quality papers are made of 100% cotton fibre which is beaten into individual fibres, creating a soup-like consistency, and then moulded into sheets. These papers can handle a lot of action, reworking, erasing and scrubbing and still last for up to 100 years. Other papers are made of cellulose or wood pulp or a mixture of these with cotton – these aren’t always as hardy as the rag paper.

Cheaper papers are available but tend not to be acid free and will have a tendency to yellow and deteriorate over time. Treat yourself to the best watercolour paper you can afford – watercolour painting can be tricky, so the better the paper the more likely you are to have good results.

Take the Rough with the smooth

Watercolour paper comes in three main textures:
Cold Pressed or NOT – this has a medium textured surface or ‘tooth’ created by a process of pressing the wet paper to smooth the surface very slightly before drying. This surface holds colour well, making it the most popular choice for both amateurs and professionals.
Rough or Extra Rough – this has a more pronounced texture, a result of letting the paper dry without pressing or smoothing. It is great for loose painting, where the paint skims over the paper and creates wonderful textures to enhance the overall effect
Hot Pressed – this is very smooth and is made by passing the paper through heated rollers in the manufacturing process. It’s ideal for controlled and detailed paintings such as botanical works and for sketching, drawing and pen and ink work.

Weights and measures?

Watercolour papers come in different weights which refers to the weight of a ream of paper, not the weight of an individual sheet. The greater the weight, the more water the paper can take without buckling or cockling, thus avoiding the need for stretching the paper before painting. The most commonly used is 300g/m2 which is suitable for all types of watercolour and unless you are working very wet it should not need stretching. The heavier and better quality the paper, generally the stronger it will be and therefore it will stand up to rougher treatment.

Think about size

So, you’ve chosen your texture, and your weight – now you need to select the right size for your type of work. The sizing of paper is not totally straightforward but as a rough guide:

• Full imperial = 76 x 56cm = 30 x 22” – a bit smaller than A1
• 1/2 imperial = 56 x 38cm = 22 x 15” – a bit smaller than A2
• 1/4 imperial = 38 x 28cm = 11 x 15” – a bit smaller than A3
• 1/8 imperial = 28 x 19cm = 7.5 x 11” – a bit smaller than A4

Tip: Whatever your medium, do not allow your painting to be constrained by the size of your support – if you work on small surfaces, your paintings will always be small, if you work on larger surfaces, your work can go either way. Allow yourself to try both – you may find the freedom of a larger support frees up your paintings.

Tips For Finding The Right Support

• Ask other artists for their recommendations
• Experiment to find what works best for you
• Don’t let the size of support determine the size of your paintings
• By all means use cheaper paper to practise on, but for the final version buy the best you can afford (especially for watercolour)

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