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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Testing watercolor paper

Yesterday I did an interesting experiment with my watercolor class. There are sixteen in the class, most of whom have been with me anywhere from eight weeks to more than three years. They tend to use the papers I use most (Arches or Winsor & Newton) or other acceptable, slightly less expensive papers. A few stubbornly persist in using student papers that hamper their capability of making smooth washes and rich textures. First I pointed out the differences in color of the "white" papers. Then I showed them the weights and textures. Finally, I laid out a variety of different surfaces for them to try: everything from 90 lb. printmaking paper to 140 cold press and 300 lb. rough. There were illustration boards, a gesso-coated canvas board, watercolor canvas and Yupo. Fabriano, Strathmore, Winsor & Newton, Arches, Bainbridge, Langton, Montval, Jack Richeson. It was fun to watch their reactions. Some loved the 300 lb., others the 140 lb. Arches, W&N and Fabriano were popular. No one liked the watercolor canvas. Most couldn't make up their minds about Yupo, probably because they're still struggling to control watercolor and the idea of painting on a surface that is more or less out of control is very intimidating. The difference in the student paper was obvious. I'm hoping I'll see more good paper come to class now. It will make my job a lot easier!

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