Looking Again at Jack Richeson Recycled Watercolor Paper

February 5, 2018
Direct brush sketch with a Niji waterbrush using a heavily opaque watercolor which breaks up delightfully on the texture of this Jack Richeson Recycled Watercolor paper. (English Red)


In 2012 I did a bunch of paintings and tests of Jack Richeson Recycled Watercolor Paper. It’s a 135 lb. Cold press paper that has a decidedly grey white color. 

In one of my posts on this paper I actually admitted that the paper made me feel “very odd.” I shouldn’t like it.

It’s still available, and it’s still inexpensive.

I still have a couple hundred sheets of the stuff that I purchased when it first came out. 

Initially I thought I would use it to make studies and to sketch at life drawing co-op. I did some of the latter, but I was too busy filming and editing online classes to make many studies. 

This past year I’ve been testing a lot of watercolor papers. I haven’t finished the reviews yet, so I wanted to stick in this little post about this quirky paper in the meantime.

I wanted to remind you all that a paper doesn’t have to be the greatest paper in the world in order for you to have fun with it.

If you are trying to learn traditional watercolor papers my advice to you is buy one of the high quality traditional watercolor papers like Fabriano Artistico and Arches. Use them. On papers like that you’ll be able to manipulate the paint in ways your instructors or instruction books and videos urge you to do.

Detail of the opening image showing the puddling of this heavy, opaque watercolor.

It has to do with fiber content and with sizing, the treatment they put on the surface and often inside the paper. Great watercolor papers all have great sizing. You need great sizing because it keeps the pigments floating on the surface of the paper looking brilliant, instead of sinking down into the paper where they look dull and lumpen.

If you want something inexpensive and fun to work on, I still feel that this Jack Richeson Recycled Watercolor paper is a great buy. There is a lot of fun to be had.

I’ve found that on this paper I can build up dark values and move paint around often in dramatic ways. I just am very careful not to need much lifting out.  

I have also found that I enjoy working on it with pen. The cold press texture might cause the pen nib to drag a bit, but it’s not a chore like some of the papers I’ve been dealing with lately!

I really enjoy working with the Pentel Brush Pen on this paper because its texture breaks up the brush pen’s strokes and creates texturally interesting strokes. Pencil and dry media are also fun to work with on this paper. 

A pen and watercolor sketch made while working from a photo inspiration on the Sktchy App.

Will ink bleed on this paper when you go over it with watercolor washes? As with any ink it’s going to depend on the ink, and the paper’s sizing. I found that all the pens I typically use on other papers as water resistant or waterproof were so on this paper. In the final detail image at the end of this post you can see some ink bleeding. This is due to the fact that there are some areas of heavy ink usage that I didn’t allow to completely dry before adding the washes. If you’re a bit more patient you won’t have this issue. This slight amount of ink movement doesn’t bother whether it’s a monochromatic sketch like that one or brightly colored.

Think of this paper as scratch paper to try out wet media ideas before moving over to $6 or $8 a sheet papers where you’re going to finesse your techniques.

One of my blog readers even wrote in the last time I discussed this paper and said that she found this paper excellent for using damp when printing letterpress. How fun is that?!

Why bring this paper up again now? Well I love the textures that it allows, and I have several blog posts coming up reviewing artist quality papers.  I just wanted to take a moment remind people that all paintings don’t need an artist quality paper. 

One more detail shot so you can see the paint on this textured paper.

Also, since I still have so much of this paper left once I start playing with it again, you’ll be seeing a lot of it illustrating the blog later this year. (I can stand up and paint again so I’ll probably do some work with it at the easel.)

Remember—if you’re trying to learn traditional watercolor techniques I urge you stick with either Fabriano Artistico or Arches watercolor paper. (And for course use artist grade watercolor paints and brushes—because it’s how you’ll be able to make things happen.) Once you master some techniques then you can branch out onto other papers that don’t have the capabilities of those two excellent papers.

Later this week I’m going to take a look at the Hahnemühle Watercolor Journal. So stop back.



    • Sharon Nolfi
    • February 6, 2018

    Please subscribe me to your blog. Thanks.

    1. Reply

      Sharon, I’m not able to do this. The mail program requires people sign up, to eliminate someone entering whole lists of people who don’t want to be on the list. The mail function is actually broken right now and I hope to have time this week later to straighten it out. If you were on the list before this might solve the issue, if not please check back after the 15th and see if you can sign in by using the subscribe box at the base of any page. Thanks for your patience.

  1. Reply

    Very insightful article, thanks!

    1. Reply

      So glad it was helpful. Thanks for letting me know.

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