Realised that my approach to watercolour has been mostly wrong! At least as far as my choice of paper goes. I’d been using cellulose-based paper on the basis that, as a beginner, I’d be working my way through a lot of paper trying out different techniques, exercises and so on. But after trying out 100% cotton watercolour paper recently I’ve come to the realisation that this type of paper behaves quite differently, in ways that are more beneficial to the artist.
Cellulose paper dries more quickly. I didn’t realise that until I tried cotton paper. The faster drying time means you have to work more quickly if you need to go back and work with the paint you’ve just put down.
There are other differences as well although at the moment I’m not sure how I would quantify them – currently, it is more a general awareness that paint behaves differently on cotton paper and I feel that the differences are for the better. I’ve heard some say that glazing is much more difficult on cellulose paper.
Some cellulose paper is better than others, of course. If I had to choose I’d pick Bockingford, made by St. Cuthberts Mill, which also produces the high quality 100% cotton Saunders Waterford paper. I also have quite a few blocks of Bockingford paper so I will continue to use that from time to time.
I’ve stocked up on 100% cotton watercolour papers, from a variety of vendors including Arches, Winsor Newton, Saunders Waterford, Fabriano, Daler Rowney and Bee Paper. The sketch below was produced on 300gsm Bee Paper, which you can buy on Amazon quite cheaply. It’s intended I think more as a practise paper rather than a paper to produce finished work with.