The only way to develop your art is to do it. Lots of it. As I look ahead to what that could mean for the canvas (actually it would be cradled board, but that is another post) piling up in my studio I decided that I needed to choose a substrate that wouldn’t take up a ton of space. That of course had to be paper. Small space needed and it can be any size, perfect.
Now the big question was what type of paper. I LOVE the Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper. Hands down that is a fantastic surface to work on and I will use it in the future, but I needed to find something that was less expensive while I explore and discover the art that I want to make moving forward. I went to the art store and found four paper option to test out. They were all similar types of paper, Bristol Vellum. (I do not like texture of any kind on my substrates so hot press or vellum paper is the perfect choice for me.) The difference in the papers was brand and price.
Below are the results of an afternoon creating four similar pieces on a sheet of the papers under test.
The Blick Bristol paper surprised me. This was the least expensive pack and I expected it to act like a cheap paper. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it held up fairly well to the wet media. It did curl initially but flattened out after the first layer dried and the paper did not fall apart under the layers of paint. While it wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, it is definitely a paper I will use again.
I used the Strathmore 300 series bristol paper extensively last year. Both art journals that I work in are designed with this paper. It stands up to wet media well and I like how the paint works on the surface of the paper. It is a great medium priced paper that will always have a place in my studio.
Once again I was surprised by a paper. The Strathmore 400 Series paper is rated higher than the 300 series with a price tag to reflect that. Since I spent so much time with the 300 series I figured that this 400 series paper would be fantastic. Far from it. This was the worst paper in the bunch and yet it was the one that had cost the most. The paper curled, it wasn’t easy to move paint around, and it was hard to get smooth lines with the pencil marks. This is one paper that will never be in my studio again.
I just have to say, “I LOVE THIS PAPER”. From the first swipe of paint to the last pencil mark the Canson Bristol paper was fantastic. Very little curl, which was amazing considering how many wet layers I added. The surface was easy to move paint around and draw on. The Canson has become my “cheap” paper of choice.