Over the last week, I have endeavoured to crank up my efforts of watercolour and focus on a 'Christmasy' theme. And although not a huge collection of works surfaced, I have learnt that it is not the amount of work one puts out, but indeed the quality of work that evolves.
I have learnt a great deal, stretching myself toward other areas of watercolour technique that I would not have explored had I not chosen to pursue a different theme of enquiry. Playing around with all sorts of paper again, using what was intended for a variety of uses (of which watercolour painting was not suggested), enabled me to test my ability to produce works, even though the conditions were not perfect. This meant, I was compelled to resolve whatever issue that arose.
Some of those issues were: soggy paper, pilling, weak colours, inability to layer paint and glaze, transparency of the final product, mounting issues and the list goes on. However, valuable lessons can be learned and discovery of which types of surfaces one prefers to paint on, can also be discovered. And believe it or not, I have now come to the conclusion - after all these years, I don't really like painting on the standard 300 gsm watercolour paper, presently available .
My reasons for this, I love having the freedom of creating a free, easy and very fluid style of sketch up with graphite or ink.
I hate my tools catching on the grain of the paper because of the coarse-textured surface. Ah, I know what you are thinking. How about trying smooth surfaces like hot press Arches, Fabriano or Waterford? Well there you have it - smooth surfaces are available to work on, but both the pencil and ink nib do not easily glide easily across the surface; there is still a great deal of tension involved. They're nothing like sketch paper.
So, I compromised. I sacrificed the ability to apply huge layers of watercolour, for the ability to bring back life to my drawings. I went back to the basic 80~100 gsm copy paper. Yes, copy paper. I grew up using much the same thing. Having three other siblings in our family, meant we weren't always blessed with spare cash to buy up all sorts of paper, whenever I needed it. So, I got used to testing out a picture on copy paper or whatever paper Dad had lying around in the paper recycle basket. Using this sort of paper, I really needed to lay-down watercolour quickly, because if I didn't the paper would get all soggy and the surface would be a mess.
Anyhow, this week I got so frustrated I actually went though my entire drawer of art paper, just to see if I had any old paper - so I could 'find my hand, again'. If you're an artist you will understand what I mean. You'll also be asking, who keeps paper for that length of time. Me. Over my years, I have learnt to savour each sheet of paper, because it was always hard to come by, when I was a kid. Plus, I'm a bit of a tree-huger and I could never waste a tree's precious gifts, knowing they take so long to grow.
Back to my point, surprisingly I found in the back of my drawer, a sketchpad of 'Bockingford' paper. Can I remember from where it came or when - Nope. Yet, this lovely paper has delighted me all week and I am now on a major search for this exact paper. I expect it won't be as yellow as mine and will have improved over the years, but I hope not. I'm keen to see what I can find.
I'm also keen to know, what watercolour paper you use? Any pet hates?