About my E-books

E-Book: Learning the Basics in Watercolor

E-Book: Painting on Watercolor Canvas

E-Book: Painting Flowers in Watercolor


Paintings and Prints of:

Acrylic Paintings



Cape Cod



Florals/Still Lifes


Greece/ Turkey


Hilton Head



Monet's Garden


Naples, FL

Niagara on the Lake

Pensacola Beach


Rural Landscapes


San Miguel MX


Sparrow Village/
South Africa

Steamboat Springs, CO



Venice, Italy

Watercolor onCanvas
All about Watercolor Paper

on R-tistx Board & Claybord®

How to Paint Crystal and Lace

Painting with Color!

How to Paint Clouds

How to Paint Water Reflections

Page of Links

Watercolor Paper


In this 21st century, the watercolorist has more options than ever before. In fact I don't paint on paper anymore, but you need to experience the best papers on the market. The most important item on your shopping list is the paper. Be sure to only use 100% rag surfaces when choosing paper.

I can remember many years ago, there weren't even any acid free papers on which to paint, and if you see some of the exhibits in museums of famous painters that were doing watercolor sketches in preparation for their oil paintings, the watercolor paper has turned yellowish brown due to the acid content of the fiber.

For many years now, there have been wonderful strides in making paper with cotton and linen fibers. We still call it "paper", but it is actually "rag". It is made in the same way that watercolor paper is made, but not from wood pulp like the original papers used.

There are also buffers added to paper to keep it from turning yellow. They are used on wood pulp papers, but the most important thing is that the paper be lignin free. Watercolor paper I have tried and recommend highly (remember that each paper has different qualities and your approach to painting, as well as the result, will be different) are all acid free "rag" papers. Most of them come in 90 lb., 140 lb., 300 lb. Some even come in 200 lb., like Waterford made by T.H.Saunders.

All papers, except Bockingford and the Strathmore Board, are made with different surfaces…..Hot Press (very smooth), Cold Press (slight texture) and Rough (self explanatory!)

1. D'Arches: a handmade watercolor paper from France. It has a nice texture and doesn't appear to have a waffle-iron print on it )(as some of the cheaper papers do that come in tablets

2. Waterford: from England. It s texture is very much like that of D'Arches, and is a bit whiter in appearance, allowing for more brilliance to the finished work.

3. Bockingford: this is made by St. Cuthbert's Mill in England, and is advertised tyo be a student grade paper. It is a brilliant white cotton fiber, and feels somewhat like a blotter, but the amazing thing is that it does not absorb the pigments as do other papers. This allows for more correction by the artist. We call this a "forgiving" surface. The downside is that ghlazing one color over another is very difficult, but can be done very carefully for about three washes....then one must get down to the detail. Direct painting works better on this surface than glazing.

4. Series #500 Strathmore Illustration Board (paint either side): I discovered this surface for watercolor back in the 1980[s when I felt I wanted a change. It is bright white. It also does not absorb the pigment; therefore, corrections are easily made. Gazing is difficult. BUT it is a wonderful surface. I painted many of my crystal and lace and broken glass pieces on this surface and it was very effective.

5. Fabriano: This is an Italian bright white paper and is very popular with many famous artists. It comes in several qualities: Fabrian Artistico, Fabriano Uno, Fabriano Studio, (the most modest price for students). Fabriano has expanded its collection to include one caled Soft Press.

6. Strathmore Aquarius: A beautiful clean white 80 lb. watercolor paper made of a unique combination of cottena nd synthetic fibers. This sheet works beautifully with all watercolor techniques and will not buckle, swell or shrink even when totally staurated. Neutral pH.


Personally, when I use paper I only work on 140# and 200#.

But, in addition to paper, I've experimented on other surfaces that have been formulated for this medium. The first one that I tried was Watercolor Canvas manufactured by the Fredrix Co of Tara Materials in Lawrenceville, GA. It is truly an innovative surface, and accepts watercolor and corrections with ease. Like Bockingford and the Strathmore Board, glazing can be problematic, but it is an exciting surface.

Ampersan Aquabord® has an interesting texture and acts much like watercolor paper (with some reservations, of course). It also comes in a smooth surface called Claybord® and is really a challenge for the watercolorist, but the results are quite amazing.

Then there is R-tistx Board which is PVC!....but has a granular surface which accepts watercolor extremely well. Soon I will have pages on each of these products and will describe the painting process on each.







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