Paper is important

So I’m on a quest to find myself a good Artist quality paper. I’m no money tree so it won’t be a crazy $100 paper made by the water god Poseidon but it’s going to be good regardless!

Cheap Watercolour Paper

There’s so many out there! And it’s easy to fall for the cheap pads because who really wants to spend lots of money on paper and not know if it’s going to make a difference or spend all that money but you paint like a beginner or don’t paint often etc..

For the last few months I have used straight out of the dollar store watercolour paper; they not archival at all and are made poorly,
I did a recent painting, which nearly made me cry because I ruined a good drawing in the process.

Cheap paper, is woeful, soul destroying. It is painful to deal with. It will not carry the water or the pigment the way it is suppose to, it will fade/discolour and it will buckle like plastic under a heat-gun. But most of all they just don’t do what watercolour paper should do.

Listen, I’d have loved to of discovered a cheap cheerful paper but I don’t think it’s possible, and I really cannot stress enough how bad these papers have made me feel.
I have had to question my brushes, my pigments and my own skills. Painting should not be stressful. It may be challenging of course but it shouldn’t feel like everything is going wrong from the moment you first lay down some paint! Watercolours are beeeeeeeautiful, but not on these pads.

Watercolour pads
Semco, Mont Marte and Reno Art Watercolour Pads of mine

Please learn from my mistakes and get yourself a real watercolour paper like Canson, Strathmore, Fabriano, whatever. And be careful of student lines, listen to your fellow artists – they have been through it too!
Don’t tell yourself “Oh this will be good for practice”, “It’s just for until I get the feel for watercolour painting”, “I’m just testing it out”.

I don’t think it matters what level your at or what your purpose is, just get a proper watercolour paper. I have made the cheapie mistake three times already and I’m hindered in growing as a painter because of it. That said, not all is lost… I will keep these papers for colour charting, test my mixing while painting or.. perhaps so my kids can doodle on them and do hand prints LOL

I do feel bad for blaming my papers but I’m not the first to say it either, I have watched countless Youtube artists whom warned me about cheap paper, they were right… 😦

Anyway… these are the papers I’m looking at at the moment: β™₯

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Hope to purchase my new paper over the next fortnight and do my first painting! I will look at doing a comparison between the new pad and my “best” old pad just to show the differences πŸ™‚

All in Hot Press, all 300gsm

I’d love to hear from you and what your favourite watercolour paper is and why? πŸ™‚


10 thoughts on “Paper is important

  1. Oh yes paper is really important! The ones you’re looking at I haven’t tried myself. I’ve only painted on cold pressed. Usually these are the ones we have the most in Denmark? I’m not quite sure why.

    I’ve been very happy with painting on canson 300g cold pressed paper and also fabriano likewise.

    Have you never ever painted on good quality paper?

    I have some bad water colour paper that I sometimes use for experiments but sometimes I don’t feel it’s even good enough for that… So I really hope you get to try some soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you for chimming in on this post! I really really appreciate it! β™₯
      I think Cold Press is the same as NOT, or “Not Hot-Pressed” and it has some texture but still a good inbetween of Rough and Smooth. I think some companies also call it Medium. It is a good all rounder paper I believe because it allows for big washes and details – you can kind of do it all on Cold-Press.

      Hot Press is fine grained so no texture (smooth), it’s predominantly for very fine detailed work hence the no texture, it supposedly dries quicker too which I suppose allows for washes/details over the top of layers, easier to draw on, and is used by botanic painters, wildlife artists, architectures etc

      I’ve been looking for a while now for Artist paper, just didn’t see the need to rush out until recently, I’ve always hated my paper from day one, all of them are just so bad lol. But the last one I tried from my draw was reeeeaallly bad to the point that it was just baffling trying to understand why the hell it even exists!! LOL

      I am close to making a choice, and I think it’s between Canson’s ‘Moulin Du Roy’ and St Cuthbert’s Mill ‘Saunders Waterford’. I know whichever I choose will be a million times better than what I currently have, so it doesn’t really matter which one I purchase at this point; but I guess I don’t want to end up having to buy a different one if there is draw backs that people know about.

      All the papers I mentioned are pretty close in price making my decision harder -.-
      But I should just make the leap – buy one of the mentioned and discover what it’s really like to paint!!!!


      1. I have used both of the above mentioned papers, and are both as good as each other! The difference I have found with Smooth Hp and Not Cp, is the following. The smooth paper seems to have more coating on it, so water and paint sit on the surface longer allowing you to move it around more. It also has bettet lifting qualities for this reason. The Not Cp has a much better ability for paint to spread im all directions and is ideal for such playful effects.
        As I am on the road of self discovery and freeing myself of the shackles of too much detail, i prefer cold pressed!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rae, I love your posts! Just on paper, I was asked today what I’d like for Christmas. I said paper! Anyway, as a special treat I am getting 5 sheets of Arches 640gsm cp. Wow! Not sure if I’m game to use it, but yes I am!

    I have tried many and found
    there is absolutely no point painting on cheap paper, and you have described the reasons perfectly. The ones in your photo are absolutely not worth being on the shelf. My favourites are: Arches, Saunders Waterford, Canson du Roy and Fabriano Artistico.
    Great post, cheers
    Anica ☺


    1. Anica! Nice to see you here, and many thanks for the lovely comments.

      I really wanted paper for Christmas and still (can you believe it?) looking for a decent paper! Just having money woes and I’m very indecisive about everything when it comes to purchasing things.

      I basically have to order and deliver whatever I choose as I basically live too far from any art store and have no car. Eckersley’s is my closest but I strickly think they’re a rip off lol.

      Du Roy and Saunders are the two I keep my eye on more closely and maybe the Langton Prestige. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for your input!!


      1. Hi Rae! I forgot to mention, that for practice, half hoping it turns out, I use Arches 300gsm cut into 8 pieces, making them just under A4. Then I use both sides, unless I liked it! πŸ™„ For very very preliminary practices I use a sketch book from the cheap shop, that interestingly holds paint quite ok. It’s the Mont Marte visual art diary, premium drawing paper 110gsm with a black cover and spiral bound. It certainly is a lottery with paper! Thanks for your awesome posts! I will tune in more often! Merry Christmas! πŸ€—

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have heard of buying the single sheet (56cm x76cm sheets) and cutting it up to the size you want. I even did a scaled to size diagram of all the sizes of paper that fit inside a sheet – as well as to compare what sizes are available and how big they really are. Some of the pads and blocks are sized in imperial and sometimes it gets confusing.. I have used my diagram to understand online purchasing as you cannot physically hold the paper before buying when you do that. Sometimes there’s a great price for a great pad but it turns out once you calculate the sizing it’s a bit too small for me – no wonder it’s cheap lol)

        I actually would like to draw a cleaner diagram and upload it here for any one wanting to understand the sizes a bit more clearer πŸ™‚ Especially if you are ordering online. I personally want a pad, no smaller than A4. I paint in A5 predominately but it is very helpful to have the extra room (Whether for practice or for cutting the page) But I soon found out there are less papers in A sizes anyway, this might be a case of being more closer related to “photo frame/print sizes” I still haven’t quite worked out why they choose the sizes they do….. If I buy a 12 sheet pad of about A4 size, I get 24 A5’s. That’s how I try think of it πŸ˜‰

        Ahh, Mont Marte, only 110gsm? Is it not actually for watercolour? I have a watercolour Mont Marte pad that I still use and have done probably most my paintings on in my gallery. It works as long as you don’t push the pad too far. Lifting paint is hard so try not to make mistakes, and it won’t take too many layers.

        Glad to hear! MERRRY CHRISTMASS!!


      3. I love art! I’m but a novice but I enjoy every aspect about it. I’d like to do more on techniques, and colour theory also and post about it here πŸ˜€ Maybe you can join me! hehe


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