By GJ Gillespie, artist and founder of Leda Art Supply
Jackson Pollock, one of the most influential figures in abstract expressionism, once said, "Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is." This belief holds true for all artists, whether you're a seasoned professional or an enthusiastic beginner. The materials you choose play a pivotal role in your artistic journey, and when it comes to watercolor painting, the paper you use can make or break your artwork.
Understanding Watercolor Paper
Before diving into how to select the right paper, let's first understand what makes watercolor paper unique. Watercolor paper is made specifically to withstand wet media without degrading or losing its structure. It's typically heavier than regular paper, and it's available in several textures that can add dimension to your art.
One of the first things to consider when choosing watercolor paper is its weight. Lighter papers (90lb) are prone to warping when they get wet, which can distort your artwork. Heavier papers (140lb and 300lb), on the other hand, can absorb more water without buckling, making them ideal for watercolor painting.
Watercolor paper comes in two basic types of surfaces: hot-pressed and cold-pressed. Hot-pressed paper, the most popular choice, has a smooth surface that's great for detailed work, making it perfect for figurative or portrait renderings. Cold-pressed paper, on the other hand, with its pronounced texture is best for creating visual interest and depth. That is why landscape artists often choose cold-pressed paper when working on sky or ocean scenes.
The Color of Your Canvas
While most artists opt for white paper, watercolor paper also comes in various tones like cream, gray, and even black. Using colored paper can add an extra layer of complexity to your work and can dramatically alter the appearance of your colors.
Finally, consider the quality of the paper. Artist-grade, or archival, paper is acid-free and designed to last for years without yellowing or deteriorating. Student-grade paper, while more affordable, may not offer the same longevity.
Choosing the right watercolor paper is an essential step towards creating art that reflects who you are. As you experiment with different weights, textures, and colors, you'll discover what works best for your unique style and technique. Remember, in the world of art, there are no mistakes, only learning experiences. So, embrace the process of exploration and let your creativity flow unabatedly onto your perfect paper canvas.Remember Pollock's words as you embark on your artistic journey: "Every good artist paints what he is." Let your chosen canvas be the mirror that reflects your artistic soul.