Sunday 20 August 2017

Product Review Series | Watercolour Paper Comparison

Hi everyone, thank you for stopping by. I hope you are having a great day.

A few weeks ago, I did a review on the paper types we crafters often use to create our cards or layouts, and a reader requested a watercolour paper comparison. So here it is! Thank you for the suggestion. I am very excited to get started.

Once again, this is a long one. I'd apologize, but I like to be thorough. I also added some fun math at the end!

Today I will be reviewing:

  • Strathmore 140lb Cold pressed watercolour paper - this is my usual paper type.
  • The Artist's Loft 90lb Cold pressed watercolour paper - a less expensive craft store brand.
  • Winsor & Newton 140lb Cold pressed watercolour paper - a more expensive brand.
The test image I used today is the beautiful tulip from Clearly Besotted's "Forever Friends" stamped using the MISTI with Antique Linen Distress ink. I chose this ink to create a "no line" look as I thought the stamped lines would take away from what I'm really trying to showcase today.

All the images are painted using my Gasai Tambi 12 colour palette and my size 4 Prisma water brush pen. All images were allowed to air dry, I did not speed up the process with my heat tool.

Up first is the Strathmore 140lb cold pressed paper.

  • Sturdy paper, doesn't require being taped down for an image like this one, probably a good idea to tape it down if you are doing a whole scene or using lots of water
  • Lots of texture so when I stamped the image it took a couple of impressions using the MISTI to get it done
  • Very little warping when water is applied. 
  • Water seems to pull the colour across the area giving more of a "watercolour" look instead of just being coloured in.
  • Paper flattens almost completely after drying
  • Felt very confidant being able to add additional layers of colour without damaging the paper.
  • Cost vs. Quality is excellent, comes in various sizes and is relatively inexpensive. About $20 CAD for a 15 sheet pad of 11x15"

Next is the Artist's Loft 90lb Cold pressed paper.
  • Paper feels very flimsy and I had immediate concerns about stability
  • Very little texture so it took the initial stamping of the image very well
  • Warping with first pass of water on the paper, even in the small area of the petals
  • Water seems to sit on top of the paper instead of saturating the area so the colour just sat there instead of wicking through the dampened area
  • Paper did NOT dry flat
  • Took much longer to dry
  • Paper took damage after second layer of colour, pilling up and seemed to get mushy after the third.
  • Incredibly inexpensive paper to purchase - less than $8 CAD for a 25 sheet pad of 12x9"

Finally the Winsor & Newton 140lb cold pressed paper.

  • Very sturdy, despite equal poundage it felt thicker than the Strathmore
  •  Nicely textured, took a couple impressions using the MISTI to get a stamped image
  • Water stays where it is put and seemed to absorb straight down
  • Layers, layers, layers - I felt incredibly secure about piling on the layers
  • Almost no warping at all
  • Paper dried almost completely flat
  • Colour wicks across the dampened area beautifully
  • Reasonable amount of drying time per area
  • More expensive "high-end" paper. I paid about $12 CAD for a 15 sheet pad of 4x6"
Painting small images whether from a stamp or freehand is one thing, but we generally don't stop there. At least I don't. After the image area is completely dry, I like to create a halo around the image because I love that dreamy look.

I did that with each of these as well. And each performed about as I would have expected. After seeing how each paper reacted to my initial work, there were no surprises when I went on to add more water over a larger area. For each of these I did tape them to a board (I thought it best to give them all the a real fighting chance.)

Here are the pictures of each piece with the light blue halo. 

Strathmore with Halo

Artist's Loft with Halo

Winsor & Newton with Halo
Overall Impressions:
  • Strathmore: For myself, I will be sticking with this for my watercolour paper. If the opportunity to try something new comes up, I will certainly not turn it away, but for my budget and my art room and the pieces that I typically create this paper is exactly what I need. It is an excellent quality for the cost, it takes layers like a dream, moves the water and paint the way I would expect and want; in the event that I mess up beyond being able to fix it, I'm not devastated if I have to toss it; aside from the amount of work that I just put in.
  • Artist's Loft: This is definitely an instance of you get what you pay for. While I have many other Artist's Loft products and mediums - this paper is not something I would ever buy again. If my daughter decides she wants to watercolour paint, I'll let her use what I have left of this, then upgrade her to something else. My inability to comfortably add layers of colour to this, destroyed any illusions I had that I could find some use for it in my art room. 
  • Winsor & Newton: This paper held up with multiple layers of colour, there was very little warping and zero damage. The colour moves across the page the way I expect it to when I think of watercolouring. That being said, for what I do, this paper behaved too much like the Strathmore for me to justify the difference in price. If you are a serious watercolour artist then this may be more what you are looking for, but then you would probably all ready have your paper of choice picked out.
A little bit of fun math, because why not. Given the prices at the time of this writing (above), I thought it would be fun to work out the cost of each 4x6" piece. 
  • Strathmore: I can get 4 panels at 4x6" out of each sheet, that's 60 panels for each 15 sheet pad; as I mentioned I paid about $20 for it. That works out to about $0.33 per panel
  • Artist's Loft: I can get 3 panels at 4x6" out of each sheet, that's 75 panels for each 25 sheet pad; as I mentioned this pad is about $8. That works out to $0.11 per panel
  • Winsor & Newton: I got exactly 15 panels out of this 4x6" pad and paid about &12 for it. That works out to $0.80 per sheet
I hope you enjoyed this review. If you haven't all ready, please follow me over on the right side bar so you don't miss any future reviews and projects, if you are viewing this via mobile device, scroll to the bottom and click "View web version" first. You can also follow me over on Facebook. If you have any questions about this review or have an idea for a future review, please toss me a line in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you.

*disclaimer: I am not set products to review, nor am I paid to review them. I review the products that I find interesting and that I purchase myself, with my own money; I receive no incentive, payment or reward to do so. All reviews are based off of my personal experiences with them and are my opinion only.

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