All About Watercolor Paper - Quality Matters!

Mediterranea, watercolor by Angela Fehr 2005

I wish I could post progress photos of my newest painting, however, I left the camera at a friend's on Monday (what a good time we had there - me, her and our seven kids!) and I don't think I'll get it back til the weekend. I am really excited about my crocus painting and working very hard to make every stroke count. I don't want to overwork this painting, which has been a problem for me recently.

I've been using Fabriano watercolor painting for the last couple of years. I liked the price, and initially I didn't see a big difference between it and Arches watercolor paper, which seems to be the industry benchmark. The $5.00 I saved per sheet was worth it, I thought. Also, Fabriano didn't have that strong odor that Arches has - I was told that it's the sizing in the Arches paper that makes it stink a bit when wet. But after using up my supply of Fabriano, I bought a couple sheets of Arches, to see if I was missing anything in using the less expensive brand.

I will never abandon Arches again. I really hadn't thought there was much difference, but Arches is more absorbent, which means I can work wet-in-wet longer. While both are cold-pressed, the texture of Arches is a bit rougher, which also helps hold the pigment where I put it with my brush. I really love the way I can drip color into a damp wash on this painting, and it blends so smoothly. It just feels better, more artistic. And yes, it does still stink a little, but it's an artistic smell, just like linseed oil and turpentine for oil painters.

I buy my watercolor paper at Opus Framing & Art Supplies, here in BC. The link will take you right to the 300lb. cold pressed Arches sheets that I have fallen back in love with.