Loosening up in Watercolor
Finished watching Lee White's class, Loosening up in Watercolor. I wanted to give the birch trees and blazing red leaves a try. Not happy with the background wash (warping paper and lack of wash skills threw it off), but the other stuff made me smile. Watercolor and ink on 140 lbs paper... I think I'm going to upgrade to a heavier paper for next time, along with some other things. I'll give this another go later.
Jacy13 last edited by
@Frogpunzel Great work! The leaves and the trees look awesome
@Frogpunzel great job!
What watercolor paper are you using? While a heavier weight can help with warping, sometimes it's the brand as well. As Lee said in the class, 100% cotton watercolor paper also makes all the difference.
@Melissa-Bailey-0 I also started completely wetting the paper (like soaking it in the tub wet), and using that tape that gets activated when wet. I tape my blank paper to a piece of plywood that I waterproof and then wait. Once it's dry it'll never warp.
@Melissa-Bailey-0 Thanks! The brand is Grumbacher, this is the first time I've really used this brand. I've used Canson before which maybe was a little better than this one. How can you tell what the paper is made of? Do you have a favorite brand?
@lpetiti That takes some planning ahead... I should give that a try too. Do you have a favorite brand? Do you stretch just the lighter weight papers or do you stretch the 300lbs paper too?
@Frogpunzel I’ll be honest, I inherited a massive stack of watercolor so it’s been a long time since I’ve bought any. Best info I can give you is that it’s cold press watercolor paper, the stuff you buy in sheets.
Yeah, I will usually prep my paper at least half a day (or in my current case, two months️) beforehand
@lpetiti I tried that a few times … didn’t work for me. It always still warped. ️
Now, I tape my preferred paper down on a board dry using artist’s tape and though it might warp a bit when I get it really wet, it dries completely flat. If I’m in a hurry, I get out the hair dryer … but usually I just let it air dry as that gives the best result.
@Frogpunzel student grade watercolor paper, and some artist grade watercolor paper, is made of wood pulp. It’ll work well if you only paint in one layer. Otherwise, the paint will lift when you add extra layers.
Since I tend to like to paint in many layers, cellulose (wood pulp) paper doesn’t work for me. I just would end up getting really frustrated and struggle with it.
100% cotton paper handles tons of layers — it just works better overall. MUCH less struggling and when you find your favorite paper, it’s such a joy to paint! (How can you tell what the paper is made out of? If it’s wood pulp, usually it just will say ‘watercolor paper’ as a description. Cotton paper will say either ‘100% cotton’ or ‘100% rag’ in the description.)
That’s the thing … painting style and technique is so individual, and the same goes for the supplies we like to use. My favorite watercolor paper might be your least favorite. That’s why I always suggest trying out different watercolor papers to see which works best for YOU.
Jackson’s Art (based in the UK but ships overseas — super affordable shipping to the US) has several watercolor paper sample packs you can purchase, an affordable way of trying out several papers to see which you prefer. Jerry’s Artarama also has a few sample packs, but not as many as Jackson’s.
If that’s not feasible for you and you just want to try out one reliable brand, most artists prefer Arches watercolor paper — while I do like their cold press, I’ve been underwhelmed with their hot press…but again, that’s just my preference. Arches is a solid paper that’s been around for hundreds of years, so it’s a good bet.
If you’re curious about what paper I use, my favorite watercolor brand is Fabriano Artistico — 140 lb soft press or 300 lb hot press. Other papers that I really like are Canson Heritage, Stonehenge Aqua (a nice, affordable 100% cotton paper), and Daler Rowney Langton Prestige.
As well as not recommending student grade watercolor paper for most applications, the one artist grade watercolor paper I do NOT recommend is Fluid 100. It’s just too much of a struggle to work with.
Hope this LONG treatise on watercolor paper was helpful. Believe it or not, I could go on and on and on… but I won’t!
@Melissa-Bailey-0 interesting…I wonder why it works for me. I learned that in the first non-animation class I took in college after I failed my last portfolio review. It’s always worked for some reason. The only thing I wish I remembered was what we used to treat the plywood we use for drawing boards. I’ve thought about getting a new one made but I have no idea what sort of thing we put on it to stop it from warping
@Melissa-Bailey-0 Thanks Melissa, that is super helpful!! I will look those up. It would be really nice to paint and not fight the warping!
I use Arches 140 lb cold press or hot press depending on how much inking I'm doing. I soak it in water (8 minutes), put it on a piece of gator board, staple it around the edges and tape it. That may be overkill but it definitely keeps the paper flat no matter how much water I use. (The staples are pretty easy to remove from gator board. I did staple them once into a piece of wood and it was a pain to get them out.)
Early on I bought a special frame for stretching watercolor paper which I finally decided looked cool but was way more work than just stapling and taping.
I also have watercolor sketch books, however, and usually do smaller pieces in them so I don't have to worry about the stretching. Those are mainly line and wash, though, so I'm not putting as much water on the paper with those.
I really like the colors in your painting -- the whole scene is very autumn-y and fun.
@demotlj Thanks Laurie, I saw those frames for stretching paper and was wondering if it would be worth it. Do the gator boards last a long time or do they end up breaking down from being stapled into so much?
@Frogpunzel They seem to last ok although I don't produce a lot of stand-alone watercolor in the course of a year so I guess it would depend on how often you use them. They weren't very expensive, though, once I found some. I live in a rural area and there aren't a lot of art stores around.