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Old 10-03-2017, 03:03 PM
edmund ronald edmund ronald is offline
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Watercolour paper addicts

They say having the right paper is even more important than paint quality, so I thought we may as well have a thread.

I have been buying cellulose-based Canson Montval 300g fine grain at an ubeatable $1 per large sheet in 10 packs, but now have moved to Arches cotton-based fine grain 300g of which I have bought 10 sheets at around $5 each.

My first impression is the Arches somehow gives a better view, and looks more “professional” but the paint is more matted. I should be painting much denser to get the same vividness as with Montval. Background washes can be lathered on and are absorbed without any buckling. However, I don’t quite feel that I’m getting 5x the value, but then I’m a beginner ... maybe when I start doing wet in wet properly my opinion will change.

Last edited by edmund ronald : 10-03-2017 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 10-03-2017, 05:57 PM
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LatteForZoey LatteForZoey is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

Indeed, I feel the same about Arches nowadays. The price has already jumped since I started painting on it, and it has only been a year! There are plenty of other cotton watercolor paper options that can also work just as well; Arches just has some of its own defining characteristics, like its ruggedness and heavy gelatin sizing. I personally am deep into the paper hole in that I adore 300 lb cotton paper, which is probably the greatest watercolor expense out there, barring giant squirrel/sable brushes lined with 24K gold!

I think one area where you'll find cotton paper excels in comparison to cellulose paper is its ability to blend heavy wet-on-wet washes and take multiple layers of washes/glazes. Right now it seems like you're sticking with some light washes, so yes, there won't be much visible difference between cellulose and cotton paper.

There's also, of course, how cotton paper is much, much more archival than cellulose paper, which also adds to the cost.

Lovely assortment of vegetables, by the way! Reminds me that I need to cook soon, !
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Old 10-03-2017, 06:49 PM
edmund ronald edmund ronald is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

Hi Zoey,

What’s the advantage of the really heavy paper, the one you refer to?

Here is another pic, showing how vividly my paints can render on cellulosee Canson Montval. I once did a lemon on thin non-watercolor french paper, and that seemed even more vivid so my impression is the cheaper the brighter?

Edmund

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Old 10-03-2017, 10:05 PM
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

Interesting! : In terms of vibrancy I usually don't see a difference between good cotton and cellulose paper. Perhaps the sizing of the Arches paper is just different than what you're used to, then? Either that or defective paper are my guesses.
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Old 10-04-2017, 02:20 AM
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

You are so right, paper quality is so important. Weight, surface roughness and sizing are so variable it is advisable to get trial packs from suppliers are try to find one that suits your style.

I settled on Saunders Waterford 200lb rough as a good compromise on quality and price. I don't stretch my paper and in most cases I don't even fasten it to the board.

I have stuck this thread to make a trio of "addict" threads at the top of the forum where members can post their experiences with tools and materials.

Doug
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Old 10-04-2017, 03:48 AM
edmund ronald edmund ronald is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorky
You are so right, paper quality is so important. Weight, surface roughness and sizing are so variable it is advisable to get trial packs from suppliers are try to find one that suits your style.

I settled on Saunders Waterford 200lb rough as a good compromise on quality and price. I don't stretch my paper and in most cases I don't even fasten it to the board.

I have stuck this thread to make a trio of "addict" threads at the top of the forum where members can post their experiences with tools and materials.

Doug


Thanks for making this sticky - I guess palette addicts is now officially the catchall, which it has been for some time ...

Edmund
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:46 AM
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Re: Watercolour paper addicts

In the past year, I've had to explore alternative solutions for my paper choices because Arches more than doubled in price here in Ontario, Canada. A full sheet of 140# cold pressed paper now sells for $9 - $11.00!

I settled on Fabriano Artistico 140# cold pressed extra white. It's a lovely paper that has good, consistent internal and external sizing. It's softer than Arches, so scrubbing is impossible. I can buy it in 10-packs for less than $5 per full sheet. However, paint lifts well and glazing can be a bit of a challenge, but works when we remember to allow washes to dry completely.

I just purchased a 20-pack of Fabriano's 140# rough. I'm excited to try it as the tooth feels beautifully raised and the paper is also very white.

I resell paper to my Students at my cost, so economics are important. Which leads me to understand that the cost of good paper is dependent on where we live and what is available to us.

Edmund... where are you that you can buy Arches paper for $5 a sheet?
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Old 10-04-2017, 10:12 AM
janinep7 janinep7 is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

Quote:
Originally Posted by edmund ronald
Hi Zoey,

What’s the advantage of the really heavy paper, the one you refer to?

Here is another pic, showing how vividly my paints can render on cellulosee Canson Montval. I once did a lemon on thin non-watercolor french paper, and that seemed even more vivid so my impression is the cheaper the brighter?

Edmund


I just wanted to comment here that I think this painting turned out really well.

And it also goes to show that good paintings are the work of the hand and eyes of painter, not necessarily the paint/paper/brush.
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Old 10-04-2017, 05:58 PM
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

Quote:
Originally Posted by edmund ronald
What’s the advantage of the really heavy paper, the one you refer to?[/IMG]

Forgot to respond to this as well, but as Doug mentioned, the heavier papers don't require stretching, first of all, and second, they're more absorbent, which means that the washes tend not to run as much. Wet on wet washes still do run a lot, but you can put a loaded wash in one area and expect it mostly to stay around there. Some don't care for the absorbency of heavier papers, though, so to each their own. I love 300 lb paper, but I don't love the cost as much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharM
Where are you that you can buy Arches paper for $5 a sheet?

Here in the US Arches is usually between $5 and $6 a sheet online... last year there were even 10 packs selling on the Amazons for $30! I snatched up two packs when I found them to be available; after the start of this year, though, they're back to the normal price. Shame! I should have hoarded and sat on them like a watercolor paper dragon!
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Old 10-04-2017, 09:02 PM
edmund ronald edmund ronald is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addict

Quote:
Originally Posted by janinep7
I just wanted to comment here that I think this painting turned out really well.

And it also goes to show that good paintings are the work of the hand and eyes of painter, not necessarily the paint/paper/brush.


I humbly accept this unexpected praise

This is a 4x5 piece of Montval. I did a pencil sketch and watercolor on location, at 8pm in front of the grocery, and then went over the shapes in marker at home. I preferred the softer impressionistic version, but with the marker it looks more like a “real” painting.

The price of retail paper is -frankly speaking- horrifying, but there seem to be good deals on wholesale quantities and rolls eg. some dead cheap Fabriano at Artways at the moment. I am not sure whether we’re allowed to post links here.


Edmund
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Old 10-08-2017, 06:44 PM
edmund ronald edmund ronald is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addicts

This post may help other novices. It’s about 2 weeks since I got the Arches paper. It *has* helped me get better sketches because I can do more precisely edged lifts -white clouds in blue sky- and because paint seems to stay in place better meaning harder edges on white zones. Also somehow it “looks” more pro, almost like a canvas. It does need more paint than the cheaper Montval, colors are less brilliant with my Sennelier paints and the paper structure shows through on light paint application, and lastly the feel is not so pleasant in the hand.

I made the imaginary 6”x8” seascape below, and I bought a $5 frame for it, as it is the first watercolour I ever made which looks like a self-contained work rather than a quick sketch. The plexi in the frame seems to be a no-reflect and works very well with the painted surface of the paper. I think the combination of sketch and frame is probably good enough to sell in a curio shop for the price of frame alone

On balance, I’d say the Arches is a perceptible step up from the Montval, but priced too high. I can sense the difference, but I still don’t like paying that much.

Last edited by edmund ronald : 10-08-2017 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 10-09-2017, 01:36 AM
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Re: Watercolour paper addicts

There is a pronounced difference in paper quality and it does affect your results.

You can get a lot of fun from one sheet of paper painting at that size.

Doug
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:13 AM
edmund ronald edmund ronald is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addicts

Yorky,

I guess when you are more experienced you know how to make every attempt count, and then as you say a sheet is the equivalent of a big loaf of bread.

Edmund
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:35 AM
peterberkovski peterberkovski is offline
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Re: Watercolour paper addicts

Quote:
Originally Posted by edmund ronald
This post may help other novices. It’s about 2 weeks since I got the Arches paper. It *has* helped me get better sketches because I can do more precisely edged lifts -white clouds in blue sky- and because paint seems to stay in place better meaning harder edges on white zones. Also somehow it “looks” more pro, almost like a canvas. It does need more paint than the cheaper Montval, colors are less brilliant with my Sennelier paints and the paper structure shows through on light paint application, and lastly the feel is not so pleasant in the hand.

I made the imaginary 6”x8” seascape below, and I bought a $5 frame for it, as it is the first watercolour I ever made which looks like a self-contained work rather than a quick sketch. The plexi in the frame seems to be a no-reflect and works very well with the painted surface of the paper. I think the combination of sketch and frame is probably good enough to sell in a curio shop for the price of frame alone

On balance, I’d say the Arches is a perceptible step up from the Montval, but priced too high. I can sense the difference, but I still don’t like paying that much.

Did you tried Fabriano 5 or Bockinford instead Montval for watercolor sketches? I think that they will please you with their quality, also Canson has other papers like Moulin Du Roy and Vidalon which are way better than Montval and they don't costs so much. After all the importance is to have fun.
In my opinion Arches isn't that Arches from the past and the quality felt down like many others. Personaly if I spend hundred for paints I wouldn't use Montval even for sketches it would be waste of paints, but that's only me.
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Old 10-09-2017, 12:54 PM
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Re: Watercolour paper addicts

Interesting! Would make sense that the paper quality changed over the years; even more reason to branch out into new brands of papers. I sometimes get splotchy gradient washes on my Arches sheets, but I can't tell if that's a sizing issue or if it's just me taking too long to drop in a wash. Hence my latest preference for 300 lb paper--I feel like I need the extra dawdle time to think when making a wash.

Nice little seascape study, by the way, Edmund! I'm also glad you have the opportunity to frame them; I have a ton of paintings but no room in the house and no time to invest towards careful framing at the moment; will be a project for me when life slows down a bit.
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