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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > January 2020 > Paper and paper choices

Paper and paper choices

When it comes to watercolour papers there’s a huge choice, so what should you opt for? Jenny Wheatley takes you through the properties of the different papers and advises on the suitability of surfaces and weights

We all have our favourites and our pet hates, and it is always good to try new papers with a variety of surfaces, thicknesses and variations in the way that each paper is sized. It is not until you try to put paint on a new surface that you can really see how it will react and whether it will suit your temperament and subject matter. I would tend firstly to break paper down into two main groups – handmade and machine-made.

Types of paper

My preference is for handmade paper because there are natural irregularities that make each sheet individual, thus each new sheet creates a dialogue between the artist and their paper. The rag and unspun linen content in handmade watercolour paper is high and they come with varying strengths of size. I love the artisan quality of handmade paper, whether from the UK or abroad. These papers come at a price but in my view are well worth the cost.

Machine-made paper (mould-made) is more regular in its production, and more likely to have a specific ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ side. You can paint perfectly adequately on either side of a machinemade paper; the upper side (front) is the side most favoured and has a less regular surface.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the first 2020 issue of The Artist. With a new year of drawing and painting to look forward to Paul Talbot-Greaves suggests 12 ways to help improve your watercolour skills throughout the year. Our four-page diary with the details and entry deadlines for all the main open competitions to enter will help you plan your year, while Bob Brandt's advice will help you maximise your chances of success. Watercolourists will enjoy Ian Sidaway's feature on painting the Rockies, Jake Winkle's focus on why good design is essential for an attention-grabbing composition, Julie Collins' colour-mixing ideas for winter trees and Jenny Wheatley's guide to choosing the best watercolour paper for your style of painting. Follow Robert Dutton and Soraya French and used mixed-media techniques to paint landscapes and flowers, plus Robert Brindley demonstrates how to capture light on water in pastel. With demonstrations in gouache, oils - including how to paint noses - charcoal and pastels, there's something for everyone, whatever your preferred medium. Why not make 2020 the year to try a new one with inspiration and guidance from The Artist?! Enjoy!