Traditionally, watercolour paper sheets come in the imperial size which is 30” x 22”, and there are usually 2 or 4 deckled edges depending on the method of manufacture. The larger your sheet of paper the more susceptible it is to cockling if it is worked on with fluid applications of watercolour paint, and so generally stretching is recommended for full imperial sheets of paper. If your paper has been cut into half imperial or quarter imperial size then generally it may not be so necessary to stretch the paper if the weight of it is greater than 200lb. At Jackson’s Art Supplies we sell a wide range of different watercolour papers, the majority of which are either mould made on a cylinder or handmade. Here’s a guide to what we can offer you.
Handmade Watercolour Paper
– Jackson’s Eco Handmade paper
, Jackson’s Two Rivers Handmade paper
and Khadi paper
These 3 brands of paper are very resilient, durable, heavyweight papers for bold expressive watercolour painting techniques. The Khadi and Jackson’s Eco are both produced in India using environmentally friendly and fair trade production methods. The cotton rag used in the Khadi and Jackson’s Eco papers are taken from cotton T-shirt material. The Jackson’s Two Rivers paper is made a little closer to home, at the Pitt Mill in Somerset, using hundreds of years-old paper making methods. Two Rivers paper is both internally sized (with pH neutral ‘Aquapel’) and externally sized with gelatine, making it tough enough to withstand scrubbing and the lifting of colour and masking fluid. The Jackson’s Eco and the Jackson’s Two Rivers paper are available in the usual full imperial size of 22” x 30”, whereas the Khadi paper is sold in cellophane wrapped packs of 20 sheets in A6, A5, A4, A3 30cmx30cm and 20cmx20cm sizes – which makes it ideal for craft ideas such as making greeting cards. The texture of these papers is coarser than regular cylinder mould made watercolour papers, so a Not or cold pressed surface in any of these brands may feel a little more like a rough surface paper in a standard watercolour paper.
Khadi is only available in a 320gsm weight and a cold pressed surface, whereas the Jackson’s Eco paper is available in 140lb, 200lb and 560lb in single sheets as well as packs. Eco comes in 3 surfaces – Extra Rough, Medium/Rough and Smooth/Medium. The Jackson’s Two Rivers paper is only available in a Not or Cold Pressed surface in the following weights: 140lb, 200lb or 300lb.Professional Watercolour Papers available at Jackson’s Art Supplies
– Arches Aquarelle
, Saunders Waterford
, Fabriano Artistico
and Millford from St Cuthbert’s Mill
– 100% Cotton for durability and strength
These 4 papers are all cylinder mould made watercolour papers which ensure a consistency in the surfaces produced, yet they all have slightly different characteristics which make them unique from one another. The French manufactured Arches Aquarelle
paper has 4 deckled edges and is gelatine tub sized with a netural pH, making it archival. It has its unique watermark embossed in the corner of each sheet to prove its authenticity. It is available in three weights – 140lb, 300lb and 400lb as well as rolls, and each weight is available in the 3 standard surface textures – rough, cold pressed or not, and rough. Saunders Waterford
watercolour paper is produced at the St. Cuthbert’s Mill, which also produces Bockingford and Millford papers. Saunders Waterford is endorsed by the Royal Watercolour Society and is recognised for its high quality. Archival and Acid free, Saunders Waterford is buffered with Calcium Carbonate to minimise discolouration of the paper over time. It is available in 3 weights as sheets – 140lb, 200lb and 300lb, and also as a 140lb roll, in hot press, not and cold press surfaces. Saunders Waterford High White
is thought to be the whitest archival paper made, and is favoured by artists looking for a whiter paper that has been manufactured without the use of bleaches that may compromise the lifespan of the paper.Fabriano Artistico
watercolour paper, like Saunders Waterford, is available in the traditional white (which is a little creamy in colour) as well as the extra white. Much like the other professional papers its internal and external sizing make it tough enough to withstand scrubbing and lifting of colour and masking fluid with ease and minimal damage. Fabriano Artistico only has 2 deckled edges and is available in 140lb and 300lb sheets and the 3 surface textures of hot press, not and rough. The extra white paper is also archival and does not use any optical bleaching processes.Millford from St Cuthbert’s Mill
is a relatively new paper that was developed to replicate Whatman paper, which is no longer available. The defining characteristic of Millford (and Whatman) watercolour papers is it’s sizing – extra surface size makes the lifting of watercolour paint very easily – and it has a higher resistance to water than other watercolour papers. Millford has a long grain and is both acid free and archival. Super durable and high recommended.
Highly Popular and affordable watercolour paper for Students – Bockingford from St Cuthberts Mill
Bockingford watercolour paper from St. Cuthberts Mill is incredibly popular among amateur watercolour painters and professionals alike. Although not 100% cotton is made with pure materials to an archival standard – ‘100% woodfree bleached chemical pulp’, according to the Mill, which means it is made of wood that has been broken down to remove the lignin of the wood (which would cause the paper to yellow very quickly if it was not removed). It is pressed between natural woollen felt to create the beautiful mottled surface that is synonymous with the Bockingford brand. Bockingford is available in ‘Not’ and ‘Rough’ surfaces, and in a range of weights – 90lb
(which is the most popular), 200lb
. There are also special pre cut packs of Bockingford watercolour paper which allow you to purchase larger quantities at a good value price, removing the hassle of having to cut the paper down to size simultaneously! As well as this in the 140lb weight range there are a number of tinted
versions of the paper – these are just as archival, and the tint can be used as a unifying ‘ground’ colour. Transparent colours will be influenced by the colour of the paper and so tinted Bockingford may aid in creating an overall mood for your painting.For those who may wish to work larger than the usual imperial size of 22” x 30”, Bockingford also manufacture a roll which measures 5 x 33ft, and is Not surface and 140lb in weight. All Bockingford paper is internally sized and acid free and is rotary trimmed on all 4 of its edges.
Fabriano 5 is available in Hot Pressed and Not textured surfaces and is often used by amateur and professional botanical watercolour painters. It is made of 50% cotton and 50% 'accurately selected raw material', which one can presume means acid free cellulose. It is cylinder mould made and surface sized making it the right level on non-absorbency for scratching and scrubbing to be possible without cuasing too much damage to the paper. Fabriano 5 is not only suitable for watercolour painting techniques, but also for tempera, gouache, acrylic, ink, charcoal, wax, graphite, felt pens, drawing, as well as etching, lithography and silkscreen printing. It is available in sheets measuring 50cm x 70m, 140lb/300gsm, in single sheets as well as packs of 5, 10, 20 or 25.
Fabriano Watercolour 130lb Woodfree Paper is made of a mixture of lignin free cotton and cellulose, sized internally as well as externally. It is acid free and available as single sheets as well as value packs, and a roll is also available, measuring 5 x 33ft (Not surface). All paper in this range is Not or cold pressed. It is auitabble for beginners and studetns and can also be used for gouache, tempera, acrylic or ink painting and drawing work.