Here at the SAA we understand how overwhelming it can be to choose a suitable surface to work on. If you are unsure which paper you are looking for then the SAA trial packs will help you discover and trial different surfaces, textures and types of paper.

So what do you do when you receive your trial pack?

You would have selected the trial pack based on the medium so it is important to test the medium you will be using.

Once I receive a trial pack I cut the sheets in half and write on each sheet which paper, weight and surface the paper is. This way I can look back and reference the papers easily. This is especially important to do if you've got a trial pack with lots of different sheets - it's easily to get mixed up very easily.
The papers are not labelled in the packs but are packed in the order on the covering sheet.

On one half of the paper I will do a little test areas of techniques and mediums.

For example, with a Watercolour Paper Trial Pack I do tests for wet on dry, wet in wet, dry brush, using masking fluid, using masking tape, lifting out colours, layering, glazing - all to see how much you can put the paper through. Often it is not until the paper is dry you will see the full effects on watercolour paper.

You'll start to learn about the different surfaces and types. Do not worry if you cannot yet see very much difference in the way the papers work. This will come later. You will find there are some papers which do not give you the effects you're looking for and these can be put to the back of the pile and you can concentrate on the papers you like.

On the other half of the cut sheet, I then create a more detailed piece of work using my normal technique and style. This is when you can really get a feel for the paper and see how it reacts in a working environment, as well as hot it may, or may not suit your particular style and method.

The great thing about the SAA trial packs, is that they offer you a unique opportunity to test and try papers which you may not have had the opportunity to explore due to costs. Also, some papers are only available in whole pads or full sheets - not easy to test and try when you only want a small piece. With the variety and value available, you can test to your hearts content to find the right paper that works for you!