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Cotton vs Wood

Did you know that not all watercolor paper is the same? When I started painting years ago, no one mentioned the difference in paper. I took a class and the supply list said 140 cold press watercolor paper. So that's what I got. Little did I know it was made with wood pulp, What does that mean to the artist? That means the water you use on the paper should be minimal. Wood pulp doesn't accept water as well as the 100% cotton. Doesn't sound like a big deal does it? But it really is. When you are learning to paint, the process of water, paint, and paper is very important in watercolor. I learned how to manipulate the water and paint on this wood pulp paper, with little success. Wet on wet is a great technique, but was nearly impossible...it just wasn't the same. I thought it was my skills, but I enjoyed it painting so much that I continued, hoping with practice I would get better.


Once in a class I ran out of paper and my friend gave me a piece of her paper.......I was in heaven. It was like I was instantly an artist, all the tips and tricks I was being taught were so easy now, well easier than before. I did have a bit of a learning curve as I found this paper to be amazing, but I was hooked. You have to remember this was long before Google, or specialty stores with staff that knew about the products they sold. It was hard to find and expensive. Definitely worth it. I would buy a full sheet, and cut it down so I had smaller pieces. ..which I still do.


The key is not the brand name, it is the 100% cotton. If you paint a lot, like I do, you will probably try lots of different papers, hot press (smooth, good for illustrations and realistic painting), cold press, (has a great texture), and rough, (a bigger texture), the BEST for wet on wet. I have lots of tips that the instructor didn't share on that supply list, but that's another blog post.


I am going to include 2 paintings see which one you think is the 100% cotton?




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