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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Watercolor paper--am I repeating myself?

During my first session with beginners I pass around a sample packet of watercolor papers for them to bend, feel and compare. I explain about the weight (140 lb preferred), the pH (acid-free preferred), the texture (cold press preferred). I tell them about sizing, variation in whiteness, deckle edges, the difference between pads and blocks. I tell them watercolor paper is expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. I tell them if they're disappointed in the results they get, it may very well be the paper and not their lack of skill. Do they listen? Nooooooo. Well, some do. But here we are, in the fifth week of class and someone says, "I think maybe this paper isn't very good." Duh. Can't say that I blame them, though. That student had paid $8.00 for the same amount of paper as another had paid $30.00 for. His paper buckled, puddled and frustrated him. I gave him a scrap of Arches cold press 140 lb. paper and he immediately saw the difference. If you paint on both sides of a one-eighth or one-quarter sheet, the better paper isn't much more expensive. And when you finally finish a painting you like, you have something that will look good in a mat and a frame and won't discolor or curl. Cheap paper comes back to haunt you. Trust me.

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