-By John Jude Palencar

“Tree Goblin, John Jude Palencar, Watercolor and gesso, 8.22″W x 8.32″H

When I first began to seriously develop my art I was in high school. Transparent watercolor was the chosen medium of my art teacher Frederick C. Graff. Over the years I have moved away watercolor and used pastel, egg tempera, oil…finally settling on acrylic. Occasionally I will paint an oil or egg tempera… mostly, I’ve worked in acrylic. It suits the illustration field and my artistic temperament.

Recently I decide to visit the past through watercolor. Realizing that I have been away from the watercolor medium for so long and that it would take a bit of time to acclimate my watercolor senses to their former sharpend perception. I was shocked to find out that it would not be as easy as I had thought it would.

Since my absense the world of watercolor paper has changed in some cases, drastically. It seems that certain manufacturers have cut corners and now produce inferior papers. Others have changed recipes for economic reasons (?). Since I am at the beginning of a new search for a selection of papers. I will have to find my old favories to see if they have undegone any alterations to their cellulose personalities.

Following, are my first attempts. Even though these are watercolors they are not of a pure nature… meaning, I have introduced an opaque medium such as gesso or gouache and even a touch of acrylic or ink. However they are about fifty to seventy percent watercolor. Depending upon the area of the painting you’re looking at! While they were intinally approached with true watercolor methods in mind, I had to change my approach due to the aggravating attributes of the watercolor paper & probably my long forgotten knowledge.

“Centurion”, John Jude Palencar, Watercolor, Gesso & ink, 19.75″W x 15.25″H, Hotpress WC paper.

I had purchased a 300lb hot & coldpress paper. You would think for the cost and weight of this unnamed paper that it would have insured an admirable result. A decent paper should be able to take a beating from a number of common watercolor techniques. But it failed miserably. I was able to rescue each attempt by introducing and opaque medium. If I hadn’t these attempts would have been completely lost in a sea of mud and chewed up surfaces. I guess it’s an opaque rescue.

To render something with pure transparent colors yields wonderful effects and beautiful results – That is my goal.. Therefore these attempts are only the beginning (again).

Part of my reason for using opaque mediums in these work was due to the failure of the paper. I will not mention the manufacturer. But it simplying did not have enough sizing in it. The paper acted like blotter paper. A good watercolor paper should not behave in this manner. I’ve spoken to other illustrators and painters about this…. They all confirm that some papermakers are cutting corners in their manufacturing process. I don’t know if this is because of enviormental regulations or simple cost saving shortcuts.

I do know there are good papers still out there….. please help me find them…..

Hey – if anybody knows of a decent watercolor paper. (or watercolor board)… Please comment and list what you like about the paper and what you don’t like. Please list the sheet sizes too.

Thank you –


“Pripyat”, John Jude Palencar, Watercolor & white gouache, 10.25″W x 13.00″H, Coldpress WC paper.