In Context: Looking at the Arteza Watercolor Book Part 9

June 28, 2019

Doing a Tape Test in the Arteza Watercolor Book

This is the full page with a small area 3-5/16 x 5 inches that was taped off with Nichiban artist’s tape. You can read my comments on the page.

I use Nichiban Artist’s tape 99.9 percent of the time when I want to tape something. It works well on my favorite papers—it’s one of the reasons those papers are my favorite papers, I’ve found a tape that works with them.

But many watercolorists like to routinely tape the borders of their watercolors so I like to do a tape test in a new book when I test it.

Today’s post is about the tape test I did in the Arteza Watercolor Book. 

It doesn’t leave the paper undamaged, even if it is only on briefly!

You probably can’t see the rough areas in the scan easily, but the paper was roughed up all around the image when I gently pulled the tape off at a very flat angle.

(The top right edge is not torn, that’s just paint creeping when I didn’t push the tape down enough.)

I’ve found Nichiban tape to be the most gentle tape that is still effective as a mask when working with wet media. If you like to tape your pages I think you’ll be unhappy with this sketchbook’s paper regardless of the brand of tape you use.

This is a close up of the drawing without the distraction of the whole page. I did a quick simple sketch with a raspberry color pencil and then pushed paint around. I didn’t want the ink lines for this study.

At the left you’ll see a close up of the image that shows the edges. Depending on your screen and your eyes you may see the roughed up paper that is beyond the paint.

It is definitely visible clearly to anyone holding the book as one would if they were flipping through the pages in person.

Tape will damage both the front and back side of this “sheet.” (The paper actually has a smoother texture on the back—see my earlier reviews on the matching surfaces across the spread.)

I’ve worked enough in this book that I’m beginning to have a love hate relationship. Or a hate-ambivalence relationship. I keep telling myself to pick some other paper or book to work in and then I sit down and work in this one, simply because I would like to fill it up.

I can get some interesting and fun effects painting on it. But when I do paint on it I’m not having much fun as I’m spending all my time compensating for the things that the paper does: how it works against me instead of for me. 

I can work in a lot of different styles and have good control over my water and paint, but I am honestly worried that a beginning watercolorist or visual journal artist would get this commercially bound sketchbook and struggle so much with the paper that he or she might second-guess whether watercolor was the medium to work in.

Sometimes folks it’s the paper.

Here’s A Thought

If you are just starting with watercolor and don’t know what type of watercolor paper you like or what you need to look for in a watercolor paper start experimenting today. Sign up for my FREE Pamphlet making class. (You can sign up any time. It’s self-guided. But it is detailed enough that you’ll have no problem making a pamphlet.) The Class will be available through December 31, 2021.

Use a 140 lb. watercolor paper that I love to make your pamphlet—I recommend TH Saunders/Waterford, but if you can’t get that you could try Fabriano Artistico, Fluid 100, Cheap Joe’s Kilimanjaro, or Canson Heritage. These are all available in 22 x 30 inch sheets.

I don’t like to fold Arches Watercolor paper because of how stiff it is, but for this pamphlet you can even use that, because it’s an excellent paper to paint on and my goal is to get you painting on something that will really let you paint.

Get the brightest white paper they have in the paper line you’re trying. This will let you see the brightness of the watercolors clearly. (Some of these paper lines I’ve mentioned have “traditional” and “bright” whites. Get the “bright.” If you’re not sure compare the images on line or ask someone in the store you’re buying from. 

You can use hot press or cold press to your taste.

This is a detail from today’s sketch showing washes of transparent watercolor as well as some watercolor washes I made opaquely.

Cold press is going to be a little more difficult to write on with a fine pen if you’re also journaling. But cold press is also going to be more amenable to giving you all the fun effects you probably admire in the work of your favorite watercolor artists—simply because the watercolor paint loves to explore those peaks and valleys of cold press paper and leave an interesting trail of pigment. (I work 96 percent of the time on hot press paper, but that’s a long story for another day—and I’m obstinate.)

Kilimanjaro only comes in cold press.

Take that pamphlet you are about to make in my free class out and about with you. Sketch and paint on those pages.

If you’re having problems on any of the papers I have listed above know that 5 percent of those problems are from the paper (because all papers have differences and strengths you might not be used to yet, or understand how to tame or take advantage of). But 95 percent of the problems you’re having on those papers are your technique.

Then you’ll know it’s time to enroll in a watercolor class with an artist who knows paper. This teacher will be able to help you learn to use your brush, your water, your paint. This teacher will be someone who can help you discover the joy of watercolor, and then match you up to a paper that is going to work for you the way you want it to. I know that’s a tall order, but hey you’ve got the rest of your life to work on this.

You can also simply start experimenting like I did, but I really love experimenting with papers, and I did learn to watercolor on traditional watercolor paper first as a child, though I was pretty much winging it then and that is also a long (and very funny) story for another day. 

Working with watercolor is worth every moment that you spend on it—if it’s done intentionally, with goals focused toward discovering your process.  

So get going.

This book from Arteza: the paper isn’t the paper you’ll find yourself on if you want to be a watercolorist.

In future blog posts you’ll still see pages from me done in an Arteza Watercolor Book. I think I’m only halfway through this one and I purchased a couple for thumbnail sketching and such.

But I think the reviewing is over. You get the idea. Every paper has its pros and cons. Now you decide where you fall on the continuum of matching up your needs and process with this paper.

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