Live Demo 11 Oct 2020—Choosing Watercolor Paper (and do I really have to stretch it?)

Photo showing the beginning of the process of tearing watercolor paper. Roll the corner underneath; pull away from the crease at a 45 degree angle.
All about choosing the best paper for you and your way of working. And, the definitive answer to that perennial question: "Do I really have to stretch my paper?"

What’s the difference between “student-grade” and “artist-grade” (professional) watercolor paper? And how do I know which is which? What’s the best brand? Surface? Weight? Do I really have to use the expensive stuff? And (please, please!) is there ANY way I can get my paper not to buckle WITHOUT stretching it? If I do have to stretch it, what’s the best way?

Ahhh, the paper controversy. Especially the “do I have to stretch it” paper controversy. You’ll learn how find the right answers for you in this demo!

Video Description:

NOTE: I’m in the process of moving my videos from YouTube to Vimeo. I’m trying to update descriptions and links as I move things, but there are a lot of videos, so I may miss some changes. If you notice a broken link, I would be grateful if you could let me know what video description it was in (otherwise I might not be able to find it to fix it!).

Things to consider and some simple tests to do in your studio to help you quickly decide whether a particular paper is right for you now.

This demo is aimed at beginners, or those with a bit more experience who are not happy with the paper they are using, or have shifted directions and want a way to assess whether a particular paper is going to be worth considering for their work. If you like the paper you are working on, I am not trying to persuade you to change papers, and I will not be doing a round up of “cool papers you really oughta try.”

This demo isn’t a side-by-side comparison or product reviews. That’s already been done far, far better than I ever could by others. Here are some to get you started:

A wonderful video from Jill Poyerd comparing professional-grade papers:

And two others in the same vein:

This demo is also not solely focused on a side-by-side comparison of student vs. professional grade watercolor papers. I do have some of each to demonstrate the testing process with, but again, that particular comparison has already been done really well:

Jill Poyerd:
Steve Mitchell (The Mind of Watercolor)

I will talk about the characteristics of paper (fiber content, sizing, etc) only enough to orient beginners. If you want more detail, please “ask Uncle Google”. I don’t have the expertise to answer most of those questions.

Two exercises that are a good test of how a paper behaves are my Eggs in a Glass Bowl postcard video and Project 2 from Watercolor Jumpstart (including the lesson videos).

The other videos in this series, in case you missed them, are here:

What’s on Your Palette?
Choosing Brushes for Watercolor

Demo Notes Handout

Summary Spreadsheet of Papers Mentioned in this Demo

Closeup Photos of Paper Textures Below (does not include the pre-printed postcards)

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