Saturday, January 23, 2010

Experiment #2- Arches 300 lb Cold Pressed Paper

Last week, I painted a quick sketch on Fabriano 300lb Hot Pressed paper that I was using for the first time. You can read in one of my previous posts that I was not totally enchanted by that paper. However, I will try it one of these days for a floral watercolor.

In my search for that perfect watercolor paper that would not need any taping or stapling and still would not buckle, I purchased some Arches 300 lb CP  paper. Today, I redid last week's sketch of a Venetian balcony:  I spent about the same amount of time on the painting and used very similar colors.

What is the verdict? Have I found the perfect paper for ME? Let's see...
The Arches 300 lb CP is very sturdy - I don't think I would have to stretch it even for my pours. It seems to be quite forgiving and allow some lifting of the wet paint without damage to the paper. I like that! This paper gives me more control over the flow of the paint than the 300 lb HP Fabriano. It reacted beautifully to the use of the salt technique....better than the Fabriano and better than the Arches 140lb CP. However, the paper is more heavily textured than the Arches much more that I went back and checked my bill to ensure that I had not bought Rough paper instead of the CP. This texture does have an impact on the application of the paint...drybrush effects are very easy to produce...even when that is not quite what you want to do:-)
The paint dries much lighter on this paper because of its blotting effect have to use more paint.

Do I prefer this paper over my regular Arches 140lb CP? Certainly least I am not used to it enough to prefer it over my old standby. I like the sturdiness of this paper, but I have not succeeded, at least in this first experiment, to achieve the luminous quality that I can sometimes get with the 140lb.

I still have over 3/4 of a sheet of this expensive 300 lb paper...I will certainly experiment some more with it. , but may not use it for my next larger painting.

Any comments about this paper and tips about the best ways to use it?


  1. While you are experimenting with 300lb paper, I am trying to finally find a way that I can paint on 140lb Arches HP after years of using 300lb. I love the smoothness of the 140lb HP (the 300lb has more texture as you have noticed). I hate to stretch paper and am trying to find an easier way. I used alot of Fabriano Soft Press 300lb also which works better for me than the Fabriano HP. Best of luck on your paper search. I like your balcony painting, beautiful colors.

  2. Vicki, we are having almost opposite problems in our search for the perfect paper:-)
    I am too lazy to stretch my paper, even the 140lb; I often end up by having to press it and let it flatten under a glass and piles of books. I don't think that can be good for the fibers of the paper. If you find a good and easy substitute to stretching, please,please share it with us...

    Thank you for your comment on the Fabriano Soft Press I will add it to my list of experiments. It should have a lot less texture than the Arches 300lb CP.

  3. I love your balcony painting - beautiful colors. As far as 300 lb. Arches paper is concerned, I much prefer the 140 lb. cold-pressed paper. Like you, I do not like the very absorbant qualities of the 300 lb. paper and it does take a lot more paint. I also find it hard to move the paint around on it.

  4. Thank you, Barbara. Do you stretch your 140lb CP?

  5. Very nice painting! I have always used Arches 140 CP, I tape it down on a foamcore board, I tried Fabriano also (did not care for it).Lately I have been using Saunders Waterford 140 Cp and 200 CP and 300lb CP, I like then just as much as Arches and there 200 pound is great for a heavier paper and more economical than 300lb. I use the 140 for more delicate subjects.

  6. Thank you, Krista. I will have to try the Saunders Waterford!The Arches 300# is indeed very expensive, at least in Canada.

    Do you simply tape down your 140 lb or do you wet it completely first to stretch it?

  7. Quite a few years ago, I gave up trying to keep paper flat or from buckling. The only great way I know to do it is to soak the sheet in water for 20 minutes, then staple it down while wet onto marine plywood or a gatorboard. Unless you soak and staple, you'll still get hills and valleys forming when the paper is wet - because cotton always stretches when wet.

    I paint on unattached paper - not taped or held down by anything. I let it buckle and stretch on it's own, and I can easily tip one corner up to make the paint flow in only one section or not, since it's not taped down. After the pntgs all done, I spritz the back only with water, smooth out the spritzes with a paper towel to even up the moisture overall, then lay it face down over a sheet of clean glass with a sheet of masonite on top of the back of the painting, then weight with whatever - paint cans/books/mags, etc. - to make all the buckles go away. Leave it under there about 24 hours or more if it's humid out. All the puckers will disappear. After the painting is uncovered, it'll be completely flat again, until humidity in the air causes a bit of warping to the whole sheet. You can iron it too, if preferred, but I'd rather not heat up the colors. Just my imput on that.

    On 300# paper, the paint does seem to absorb more/fade a little. It's good you noticed that. I rarely use it at all, but some of the people in my classes love it.

    Try some Strathmore Aquarius 80# paper if you want to get less expensive but still good quality paper that won't buckle much. It's part sythetic or else linen and part cotton. It keeps its shape better than any other paper without taping down, since it doesn't stretch much at all when it's wet.

    Keep up the great work and happy painting.

  8. Sandy, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and process! I have never seen the Strathmore Aquarius, but I'm sure I can get it online.
    I probably don't let the paper sit under piles of books long enough to really come out flat.I will try to be more patient:-)
    Take care Sandy.

  9. Christiane, just tape my 140 to a piece of foamcore (light and easy to transport)when I am finished I let the painting dry completely and then I remove it. If it is not completely flat I I steam iron the back and then place a large clean board on top with some heavy objects and let it sit overnight. It will be completely flat.

  10. Thank you, Krista, for sharing your process. This time, as I am starting a new painting, I have taped my watercolor paper to a foamcore backing. I am anxious to see what difference this will make.

  11. Every painting I do on 140 lb will curl after I've removed the tapes. I want to store them flat so that they will be easy to mat and frame. My first idea would be to sandwich them in cardboard. Any other ideas?