I’ve found that sometimes, the cheapest materials out there are all you need. Like hot dogs. You don’t need Châteaubriand and caviar every day. (Maybe I don’t need hotdogs everyday either but let’s stay on topic) In a world of spectacular art materials, a sheet of basic copy paper and a Bic pen, which together cost less than pocket lint, are still fantastic tools. Perhaps you can’t paint the Sistine Chapel with them, but they are more than sufficient enough to sketch out the idea with. Being cheap doesn’t always mean being bad.
All I have to do is find it and the fountain of youth, a comfy chair, and I am set!
So how does it handle?
I like how it takes pencil and I love how laying in initial colors feel on the paper. Paint goes on smooth and can be pushed and pulled rather easily. It allows a little bit of lifting out of light colors, and dark colors can be pulled out all together if you like. This is great if you don’t care too much about using very wet washes and you prefer to noodle the colors around as you paint. (As someone who probably applies too many washes this is annoying, but that is why I tend to work on vellum bristol over cold press papers in general anyway). Bottom line: if you like watercolor paper that behaves like watercolor paper, it does the job.
If you plan on painting the Sistine Chapel, I might recommend some of the heavy hitters of the watercolor world, but at a tenth of the price, this is a great alternative.
If you do want to try some of the more expensive papers with similar feels to them, try out Fabriano’s 300g Hot Press paper, Strathmore’s 500 series illustration board for wet media, and Canson’s own Montval Cold Press.
Note 1: In closing, I should note here: Materials are important, but they aren’t THAT important. A good artist could work on anything, even tree bark and it would still be impressive. But what materials can do is make your life easier and may allow you to better play to your strengths as an artist. However, there is no silver bullet or secret formula that can make up for lack of practice and technical ability.
Note 2: For our Patreon supporter’s (and anyone interested in becoming a supporter!): Tune in this Saturday at 2PM for a live watercolor demo to see this in action. I’ll be answering any question, showing how different papers handle, painting fire-breathing, castle-levelling dragons, and if you think I’m wrong you can tell everyone in the chat! See you then!
Note 3: This article was not paid for or sponsored by anybody. Justin Gerard just sometimes reviews things.