Cindy Briggs


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Finding the Best Watercolor Paper for Your Painting: My Experience and Recommendations

Finding the Best Watercolor Paper for Your Painting

Finding the Best Watercolor Paper for Your Painting: My Experience and Recommendations

As a watercolorist, finding the best watercolor paper for your painting can be a bit of trial and error. It’s important to understand the difference between cold press (rough) and hot press (smooth) paper, as well as the weight and composition of the paper.

Fabriano 140# Cold Press Paper

After trying many different options, I’ve found that Fabriano 140# Cold Press Paper works best for me. This paper is made of 100% cotton and has a sizing on the surface that allows for easier lifting of color after the paint is dry, and also gives you more time to mix and manipulate your colors.

For most of my paintings and workshops, I recommend using 140# Cold Press Fabriano Paper in a 9×12 size. It comes in a block that you can easily pull sheets off of and tape to a board.


Fabriano Studio Paper

For Quick Sketch workshops and studies, I often use a 25% Cotton paper called Fabriano Studio Paper at 140# Cold Press. It’s a bit smoother and easier to draw on with a permanent fine point marker.


1264 Fabriano 140# Cold Press Paper

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, 1264 Fabriano 140# Cold Press Paper is a manufactured paper and has no cotton, but still offers good quality for the price. However, I always recommend upgrading to a higher quality paper as soon as you can, as it will help your paintings improve more quickly.


300# Soft Press Fabriano Paper

For larger paintings, like 30 x 22 paintings, I love using 300# soft press Fabriano paper. It’s thicker, stays flat, and has a wonderful surface to paint on, although it is more expensive. This is a dream to paint on and I use it sparingly.


Why 140# Watercolor paper?

When it comes to weight, I find that 140# paper is the best option as it allows for wet-in-wet painting without too much wrinkling. 90# paper is thin and can be more difficult to work with. It’s also worth noting that with 140# paper, you can usually paint on both sides.


Finding the Best Watercolor Paper for Your Painting

Understanding Watercolor Paper Weight: 140# vs. 90#

When it comes to choosing watercolor paper, the weight is an important factor to consider. The weight of watercolor paper is measured in pounds, and refers to the thickness and durability of the paper. Generally, a higher number indicates a thicker and sturdier paper. So, 140# is thicker than 90#.


What does 140# mean? 

It refers to the weight of a ream of watercolor paper, which is 500 sheets. A ream of 30×22 inch watercolor paper that weighs 140 pounds is considered 140# paper.


Which is Better for Watercolor Painting: 140# vs. 90#

In comparison to 90# paper, 140# paper is thicker and generally considered a more durable option for watercolor painting. It can withstand wet-in-wet techniques and is less prone to wrinkling than thinner papers.

When choosing watercolor paper, it’s important to consider the weight in relation to your personal style and needs. For example, if you prefer wet-in-wet techniques and want a paper that can handle more water, a thicker paper like 140# may be a good choice. Alternatively, if you prefer a thinner paper for more detailed work, 90# may be a better fit. Experimenting with different weights and brands can help you find the paper that works best for you.


Do I Stretch Watercolor Paper?

As for stretching watercolor paper, I used to do it in college but haven’t found it necessary in recent years. I’ve found that taping 140# paper to a non-porous board and then steaming it on the back side if needed allows it to flatten out sufficiently.


In conclusion, finding the best watercolor paper for your painting is an important aspect of the artistic process. It can take some trial and error to find the right paper for your style and needs, but it’s worth the effort. Consider factors like weight, texture, and composition when selecting a paper, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different options. By taking the time to find the right paper, you’ll be able to create paintings that truly showcase your artistic vision and talent.



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