Friday, 17 June 2016

Paper Matters!

Lately, I have noticed that my favourite Watercolour paper has changed.  When I can work on it, it's jolly hard work - but without the jolly bit.   In fact, I have found myself with paintbrush in one hand and a brush full of gelatine size in the other.  I did at first think it was me.  Painting isn''t one of those things that you just sit down and do, some days it goes well, and some days you wish you were a photographer, although, I'm sure photographers have bad days too!

So it was with a heavy heart that I decided that I would look for another paper to work on.

I like working on Daler Rowney HP, but it only comes in 140lbs, which is ok for really small stuff, but not so good if you want to work bigger and have larger areas of paint.  It cockles.   And before someone tells me to stretch the paper first, yes, this works for some people, but I prefer to keep the sizing where it is, and anyway, that means I would have to keep several pieces ready prepared and stuck to boards, and since my studio space is tiny this really wouldn't work for me.  There's also the problem of availablility with DR HP, it being available in sheets only from one supplier which means a two hour plus round trip - and that's if I'm lucky!

So, as I was taking the trouble to test out several papers I thought it would be of interest to others and I'm putting it here, because there's quite a lot of information.

Each test was conducted with the same paints and brushes.  I tried to make sure the only variable was the paper, but the weather decided to get involved too and some of the tests were conducted on very hot dry days and some on very wet days, although I think the main problem that posed was drying speed so I haven't commented on speed of drying.

The paints - all from Sennelier -  French Ultramarine(PB29)  Sennelier Yellow Light (PY154 )  Rose Madder Lake(PV19) Sennelier Red(PR254) and Sennelier Olive (the old one PO49,PG36) I don't normally use ready mixed greens but this one is very useful as a base and is totally transparent.


Paper Tests - please click on the photos for a larger version

watercolour test on Papers from Saunders Waterford©Polly o'Leary2016
Papers from Saunders Waterford


Saunders Waterford HP 140lbs High White – New Improved 100% cotton

Fine surface, very smooth both sides.

W-in-W Paint spread on the damp surface quickly and blurred softly. Easy to soften edges.
Petal – Edge colour bled nicely, no manipulation needed. Markings fine and sharp.
Leaf – W in W spread almost too much but lovely soft result and well controlled. Subsequent dry brush work also soft.
Stem – paint spread from the edges nicely and a quick sweep of the brush down the middle created a nice ‘shine’ dry brush to edges softened nicely.
Edges clean-up ok if paint not too dry
Green paint – didn’t lift much after drying. Red paint – hardly any lifting after drying
All colours nice and bright. Reverse of paper seems easier to work on and results cleaner.
Some cockling even when dry, I would love to try this in a 200lb or 300lb version.

A lovely paper to work on, but lifting after drying is a problem.


Saunders Waterford HP 140lbs High White

Slight texture on surface. Reverse more regular pattern

W-in-W Paint spread on the damp surface quickly and blurred softly. Easy to soften edges.
Petal – Edge colour bled nicely, no manipulation needed. Markings fine and sharp.
Leaf – W in W spread almost too much but lovely soft result and well controlled. Subsequent dry brush work also soft.
Stem – paint spread from the edges nicely and a quick sweep of the brush down the middle created a nice ‘shine’ dry brush to edges softened nicely.
Edges clean-up ok if paint not too dry
Green paint – didn’t lift much after drying. Red paint – hardly any lifting after drying
All colours nice and bright. Despite texture, edges clean and fine lines clean.

Nice to work on but needed a little more water

Saunders Waterford Ultra Smooth HP 300gsm 50% cotton

Very smooth paper both sides

W-in-W paint spread nicely, needed a little extra work. Easy to soften edges. Red lifted well
Petal – Edge colour bled nicely, needed a little extra work. Nice effect. Sharp clean lines
Leaf – Needed extra work for W-in-W underpainting, but dry brushing very soft effect and clean sharp edges.
Stem – Very difficult to get effect
Green paint lifted leaving lighter green line. Red paint barely lifted leaving a slightly lighter red.
Edges clean and well defined and easy to clean up.
All colours bright.

Saunders Waterford Bockingford HP 300gsm White

Very smooth paper both sides.

W-in-W paint spread nicely and easy to control. Edges easy to soften. Red lifted well.
Petal - Edge colour spread nicely, good effect. Sharp clean detail lines
Leaf – W-in-W spread well, dry brush effect soft and deep. Edges easy to clean up.
Stem – W-in-W easy to control, highlight lifted nicely .
Green paint lifted leaving a clean light green line. Red lifted leaving a red line, but not sharp.
Edges clean and easy to clean up.
Colours bright.


Watercolour paper test D-R Langton Prestige, Moulin du Roy and Strathmore Imperial 500
D-R Langton Prestige, Moulin du Roy and Strathmore Imperial 500


Langton Prestige HP 140lbs 100% cotton

Slight texture on one side and smooth on reverse. Feels very soft to the touch.

W-in-W - Paint dispersed nicely and edges softened nicely. Red paint lifted almost clean away.
Petal – edge paint bled nicely, little or no manipulation. Markings fine and sharp.
Leaf – W-in-W spread nicely, well controlled. Dry brush soft effect.
Stem – Edges pread nicely and easy to lift shine in the middle. Darker edging easy to soften.
Edges clean up easy
Green paint hardly lifted. Red paint both first and second layer lifted slightly.
All colours nice and bright. Texture didn’t affect clean edges or sharp details.

Lovely paper to work on.


Strathmore Imperial 500 HP 140lbs 100% cotton

Much heavier texture than most HP papers. Random texture on front and noticeable pattern on reverse.

W-inW inactive paint didn’t spread much. Difficult to soften edges. Red paint lifted almost clean.
Petal – Edge colour needed persuasion to soften. Fine lines needed more than one sweep.
Leaf - W-in-W spread far too much, soft effect but lacked control – maybe over compensation after first three attempts? Dry brush ok, not too harsh.
Stem – Took longer to persuade paint to spread, several attempts needed. Highlight present but mechanical looking.
Green paint lifted a little. Red paint sat on top of paper, but clean lines when lifted but not to white.
Paper cockled badly when wet but dried flat.

I found this a more difficult paper to work on.


Canson Moulin du Roy HP 140lbs 100% cotton

Very smooth paper, felt it was very like Arches.
W-inW paint spread well, but curiously when dried the colours seem faded. Difficult to soften edges and it shows! Lifting of the red unsuccessful.
Petal – Edge colour didn’t spread in and not successful. Colour when dried very feint.
Leaf – W-in-W spread well but colours feint and needed more than one wash. Dry brushing also needed more work. Effect soft.
Stem – W-in-W needed a lot of work. Doesn’t look as effective as others.
Green paint lifted well. Red paint sat on surface but lifted well, lines clear and defined, but not white.

Didn’t like working on this, and wasn’t impressed that the wash colours looked so faded

Watercolour paper Test Fabriano Artistico 640gsm (old)
Fabriano Artistico 640gsm (old)


Fabriano Artistico HP 640gsm (old) 100% cotton

This paper is a few years old. It’s difficult to tell which side is which even with a strong magnifying glass. Both sides are very smooth and I painted on both sides too.

W-in-W paint spread out nicely leaving a soft effect. Edges were easy to soften. Lifting of red was mostly successful.
Petal – Edge colour spread inwards beautifully and gave exactly the right effect. Sharp lines nicely defined.
Leaf – W-in-W spread nicely, easy to control. Dry brushing gave nice deep colour and very soft effect. Edges very sharp
Stem – W-in-W easy to control and highlight easy to lift leaving a convincing shine.
Edges cleaned up well
Green paint lifted leaving a slight colour. Red paint was lifted leaving lighter red.
Colours not quite as bright as Saunders Waterford and Strathmore, but well defined and clean.
Lovely paper to work on.

Watercolour Paper Test Fabriano Artistico 300gsm (old)
Fabriano Artistico 300gsm (old)


Fabriano Artistico HP 300gsm (old) 100% cotton

This paper is also a few years old, Both sides very smooth and difficult to tell back from front even with strong magnification.
W-in-W paint spread nicely, easily controlled. Soft effect. Edges easy to soften.
Petal – Edge colour spread inwards nicely, giving the effect wanted. Fine lines sharp and clean.
Leaf - W-in-W easily controlled spread. Dry brushing soft effect, no harsh lines/
Stem – W-in-W easy to control and highlight easy to lift.
Edges cleaned up well
Green paint lifted easily leaving lighter green. Red paint lifted leaving sharp lines of lighter red.
Colours not as bright as Saunders W and Strathmore but well defined and clean.
Lovely paper to work on but slight cockling.

 
50% cotton - SW Bockinford HP 140lbs and Fabriano Classico HP 140lbs
50% cotton - SW Bockingford HP 140lbs and Fabriano Classico HP 140lbs


Fabriano Classico HP (old)

W-in-W paint spreads nicely, soft edges easy to achieve.
Green (Senn. Olive), Red (PR254), Rose (PV19) Blue (PB29) All lifted similarly leaving a very light clean line

Smooth paper

WS Bockingford HP 140lbs  - this is from a large sheet.

I often use this paper if I want to try out different things, or just for sketching.  It's a lovely smooth paper which takes a wash nicely and also dry brushing.  It's also very consistent and reliable which is very useful if you're sketching, as you can concentrate on what you're doing, rather on coping with variable paper.

12 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this research, it's very helpful as I don't have access to a lot of paper choice and tend to purchase online.
    How disappointing our favourite has changed so radically.
    This art form is tedious enough without having to battle the foundation you paint on.
    Maybe in the long run we will find lots of interesting alternatives, but hopefully changes will be made to revert back to the old quality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment and thoughts Vicki, you're right, it's so difficult to produce really good work whilst having to battle the paper you're working on. And it's really important in watercolour, without a good support you can't produce the painting!

      Delete
  2. but chickie......what about the newer fabriano.....
    no one can get the old stuff anymore i think

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Vi, The 'New' Fabriano Artistico is the reason for the paper tests. I can't keep buying this very expensive paper and not get the results I expect and need.
    I've done tests on the 'old' Fabriano Artistico to provide a 'gold standard' for what I'm looking for. It was a lovely paper, but has been changing over the last year or so and now has gone beyond being acceptable. But it's difficult to know which paper to use now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. oh gees polly, i am so sorry, that's right....you're right...i'm out of my mind here
    just ignore me chickie at least until all this mess over here passes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's OK Vi, don't worry about it. We all get days like that, it will be my turn next xxx

      Delete
  5. Thank you for posting this test! Living in Sweden I am happy enough to have found a shop that had lots of old Fabriano in stock ( they said hardly anyone buys the HP paper here). I like the thicker Saunders Waterford it is totally different from the 300 grthat leaves a white fuzzy lauer of paper fibres on top, like some fibers dont take the paint.
    I amalso going to try Leonardo by Hahnemule.😉 Thanks again, Charlotta

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely to hear from you Charlotta, I'm in two minds about the old Saunders Waterford HP - it's heavily textured in both weights. But the New HP seems promising. I'm hoping to try it in a heavier weight, then I can see if it's really useful. I would love to try the Leionardo by Hannemuhle, but it's very difficult to get here. Never mind, I'm sure I'll find some. Good luck with your testing, I hope you find one you like xxx

      Delete
  6. Great info! I particularly like the subheadings you used to rate the papers. Ta!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you Candice, I've tried to make it as easy as possible because it's quite a lot of information to read.

    It's not finished though, I'll be adding more as I test more papers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great blog Polly! I'm after old stock fabriano HP 140lb. Running desperatell low and even after trying all the others I can't live without it! Do you know who might have a source at all please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jackie, thanks for your kind comments.

      I wish I knew where the was some old Fabriano. Like you, I've tried, and retried, many new papers, but none of them are a substitute. It's very frustrating. Apparently there are old stocks around but because of the way paper is rotated or not, it's pot luck !
      I can't afford to be buying paper that will never be used.

      I had settled on the old Saunders Waterford Hot Press, but no stocks of that left now either as far as I can tell.

      Now left with Bockingford HP - 50% cotton and searching for something 100% cotton that will work for me. It's an expensive business testing out different papers !

      Delete