Saturday, March 23, 2013

Experimenting with paper and paint

The paper that you use for painting can be your nemesis or your friend. Nemesis paper curls up. It stays wet for what seems like forever. It rips when you try to scrub renegade color away. It is just evil, rotten paper. You probably bought it from the bargain table at a dollar store. OK. I don't know if dollar stores have bargain tables. The whole store is supposed to be a bargain.
But you get the idea. Nemesis paper is just ick.
Well... there are many different kinds of paper for drawing and painting. Some paper has a lot of texture and that is very desirable for water color but less desirable for pen and ink drawing. Some paper is very smooth. That is desirable for pen and ink drawing but irritating for water color. There's mixed media paper, which I like to use for acrylic paintings.
One of the chief distinctions between papers concerns texture. There are three types: hot press, cold press, and rough. Often, cold press paper is preferred for water color paints because it has texture. Hot press paper is very smooth. If you use too much water, the paper won't absorb it. It will just sit there on top of the paper, being annoying and causing your colors to run together and become muddy. And, not only that, the paper will curl up. Curly is nice if it's your hair but, if it's your paper, it is one big Yuck! The third type is rough. It is even more texture than cold press paper so it is fun to paint on, especially if you want to have a kind of impressionistic effect. If you like photo realism, you might not be as fond of this.
Another characteristic of paper is the weight of the paper. The usual weight for water color paper is 140 pounds. That will provide you with a nice sheet of paper for painting. But, if you're lucky, you can use a 300-pound type of paper. The heavier paper is thick like a board. Don't worry. A piece of paper won't actually weigh 140 or 300 pounds.
So here are three paintings, on different types of paper:
This painting was done on hot press paper. The paper is very smooth. Notice the streaky likes in the purple mountain. That is very typical of hot press paper. Also notice how the paper buckled and is somewhat curly. 

This painting was done on a 140 pound paper with a rough texture. The colors blend more readily with the the rough texture than the smooth texture.  I kept to a limited palette with this, focusing on warm colors.

For this painting, I used a 300 pound board. The was a great surface on which to paint. I needed to add lots of water because the paper was thirsty, as it was with the rough textured paper.

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