Sunday, January 17, 2010

Experiment with hot pressed watercolor paper

This year I want to try new watercolor products and techniques. I usually always use Arches Cold Pressed 140lb watercolor paper and have decided to try other types of paper.

Today, I experimented with 300 lb Fabriano Hot Pressed paper. This paper has no texture whatsoever - it reminds me of certain matboards. The paint flows very well on this very smooth surface - perhaps too well for me! You can lift the paint fairly easily, but I found that any scubbing damaged the surface of the paper. Salt technique worked moderately well to create texture, although it takes a long time for the paint under the salt to dry. I really like the feel of that paper once painted.  However, after painting on it for about 30 minutes, I had  reached the conclusion that this paper did not suit me: it does not offer me enough control and the paint seems to float too much on the surface.  However, to be fair to it, I should try it again - maybe for a floral watercolor. The sketch below of a Venetian balcony is the result of today's experiment. After this disappointment, I went out this afternoon and splurged on a sheet of Arches 300 lb cold press....I can't wait to try this new surface. Any comments or advice?


  1. I think your balcony painting turned out very well while experimenting on a new paper. We watercolor artist are always looking for the "perfect" surface. I enjoyed your thoughts about the HP paper.

  2. You can work on any paper if you adjust the amount of pigment to water accordingly. I have tried quite a few different papers and surfaces. Each has its own good and bad points, depending on the type of painting you want to do. I am currently using 300# Arches for the poured miskit painitings. It will be hard to go back to anything lighter weight because this paper is very forgiving and workable. Also, you have to use a lot of pigment as it really soaks in. Gets expensive!

  3. Hot pressed is good for florals since it tends to "blossom" and it just takes a little getting used to. But I don't think your painting is a "disappointment"! I like 300# if I'm painting full sheet - that way I can sit it aside (literally - because it's heavy enough to stand alone!) when I'm not working on it. I've also used Saunders & Waterford - which is soft, and Lanaquarelle (Lana) which is soft and WHITE. I now use either Fabriano or Arches, and lately have been favoring the Fabriano. My advice - You just have to experiment - try out a piece of different papers, try different techniques on them, and find what you really like. Just like our paints and brushes, we all have preferences, but you will never know what you like until you different things.

  4. Vicki:

    thanks for you kind comment regarding my balcony sketch. I really like the Arches 140lb CP, but I rarely stretch my paper when I do pours - I am hoping to find a 300lb paper that I like so that I won't have to worry about warped paper that has to be flattened out.


    I am really looking forward to experimenting with the 300lb Arches CP. I have been shying away from it until now because of its cost.

    I agree that the HP with its smoothness would probably be very good for florals. Next time I use this paper, I will indeed try a floral.
    I really like the Arches 140lb - it stands up really well to the masking, scrubbing etc that I often subject it to when I do pours. I would however like to use a heavier paper that does not buckle with my pours when I don't stretch the paper.
    I am glad that you don't find my painting " a disappointment" - it was fun trying out a new paper.

    Next experiment: Arches 300lb CP!

  5. This has been fun Christiane taking myself through your posts backwards in time, having been brought to your blog by your comment on my acrylic ink iris (for which thank you). So pleased to have found you. I went to Venice last summer and have loads of stunning photos, mostly taken with people including the gondoliers, so that I could do a series. That was in June I(our anniversary) and as yet have not had time to start - now I am inspired by your lovely fresh work. Oh dear, why can't we stretch the hours in the day to accomplish all we want. Strangely, I have just today collected a batch of full size Hot Press paper from my local gallery, as I find it so smooth and sharp for floral pieces and thought it might work for my Venice ideas. I took it to South Africa on a tour and find it works wonderfully for pen and wash.

  6. Joan, I am thrilled that you have visited my blog and hope that you will stop by frequently.
    You should indeed start a series on Venice...I keep going back to my pictures taken in that unique city and indeed, I will never have enough time to paint all my favourite ones

    I may give the HP another try soon, but for now, I will stay with the Cold Press (Not)but will try the 300 lbs.

    Thank you for your kind comments.

  7. Christiane, experimenting is good and you will likely find some new papers you really like. I get in a rut and always go back to the Arches CP 140. I own some 300 and use it with collage. Like someone said, it soaks up a lot of paint, but it does stay very flat.

    The piece you did was very successful, so you probably had to fight your way through, but you can declare victory!

  8. Mary,
    Like you, I also seem to go back to Arches CP 140. However, I am determined to try a few others. I will even try the Fabriano HP again, but for a floral this time.

    You are very kind about my balcony scene. I did feel that the paper and I were having a battle:-)

  9. It never hurts to experiment, Christiane. And I think a floral or landscape on the hot press might please you even more - or a more illustrative style of your Venice buildings? Give it another go and take what you learned from this one to that one :) I think you'll like the 300# cold press. I never tape or staple or do anything with my paper but let it be - I like to pick it up and tilt it and let the paint run :) The 300# is more absorbent so be aware you'll need more water to pigment for that.

  10. Rhonda,
    I agree that the HP may be quite interesting for a floral. I will certainly give it another try.
    As for the 300lb Arches CP, I have just started to play with it. I think I will like it!
    Rhonda, do you tape and stretch your 140lb paper though? I usually don't, but often have to flatten out the paper after since it gets warped especially if I use the hair dryer in my poured paintings.

  11. I have recently bought Fabriano Artistico Watercolor Paper 300 lb. Hot Press 10-Pack from the Jerrysartarama's online store with great discount price. Previously, I was using 90 lb. I have never used 300lb, can't wait to get them.

    I did use he scrubber brush and aquacover (like white out for watercolor artists!) They did great in lifting and fixing, also for highlights in my watercolor paintings.