Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Paper Review: Cottonwood Arts Laminated Coldpress Sheets: Watercolor Basics

It's still World Watercolor Month, and we're continuing our Watercolor Basics theme with another paper review!  Today we're taking a look at Cottonwood Arts Laminated Coldpress Sheets.

These laminated watercolor sheets are not the only self-supporting watercolor option on the market.  Watercolor blocks are also a great option for painters on the go, and many paper companies now offer sheets or boards, such as Canson's Montval Artboard (a later review!).

At the time of purchase, Cottonwood Arts was a new brand for me, and I'd already started the Watercolor Basics (link) series here on the blog.  Cottonwood Arts primarily produces papers that can handle a variety of media- marker, ink, graphite, mixed media, and of course, watercolor. On their website, the Laminated Coldpress Sheets we'll be reviewing today are similar to an available  pack that has ten 10 sheets in size 5"x7", and cost $9.75, less than a dollar a sheet.

Places to buy:
Cottonwood Arts
(these are surprisingly hard to find online!)

The pack was purchased from David's Art Supply in Metairie, Louisiana, in 2015.

The Stats:
  • 6 Sheets Per Pack (also available in 10 sheet packs online)
  • Coldpress paper adhered to chipboard back for stability
  • Cold press
  • Weight is not given, but I assume it's 90lb watercolor paper (probably cellulose derived based on price) attached to chipboard (also cellulose based, possibly acid free?  That would be ideal, but it does not say)

The Packaging:

Like the Bockingford paper we recently reviewed, the Cottonwood Arts paper comes shrinkwrapped.  Unlike the Bockingford paper, sheets are individual, and not attached to a pad by tape or gum.

The packaging contains surprisingly little information about this watercolor paper, so much of the stats listed above are from observation and assumption based on experience.

Be careful when opening the pack- if you can open it juussst right, you can still use the cellophane to hold your unused sheets.

As you can see, the 'laminated' sheets are thicker than cardstock or 140lb paper on its own, thinner than illustration board.

Love my art?  Enjoy watercolor?  Why not check out my all ages watercolor comic, 7" Kara, now available as a webcomic?  Or get caught up on the first four chapters (plus a bonus chapter!) by picking up Volume 1?

The Inks:

This illustration was inked with the waterproof Sailor Mitsuo Aida brushpen.

The paper handled brushpen very well- no smearing, no feathering, and the graphite erased clealy.

The Field Test

Since these are 'laminated' watercolor sheets, they should be able to withstand a fair amount of water and abuse- so I didn't bother to stretch or secure this illustration before dousing it with water.

And although there was some bowing of the chipboard back, it was really rather minimal compared to some of the buckling I've seen with 140lb watercolor papers.

I felt like the Cottonwood Arts paper handled color a bit strangely, and it seemed like a thinner paper (maybe 90lb?  less capable of really handling water and blends- water tends to evaporate immediately) glued to chipboard for support.

 A little bit of bowing and flexing as the board dries.

 This bowing causes the sheet to rock while I painted, which made having a steady hand difficult.

This paper took well to thicker applications of color, and might be ideal for gouache.

Colors did layer fairly vibrantly- sometimes unusual for inexpensive papers, where pigments can settle into mud- although I didn't do any complicated layering or glazing techniques.

The Finished Piece:

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The Verdict:

Currently, I'm inking a few pieces with traditional dip pen and acrylic ink, with plans on watercoloring over them on these watercolor sheets.  I find that the dip pen constantly catches on the paper's surface- not uncommon for cold press papers.  Sometimes watercolor papers that aren't really suitable for watercolor (like Fabriano Studio) are great for brush+ink techniques- Cottonwood Arts sheets may be suitable for that, although the size I used is a bit small for that.

Cottonwood Arts Laminated Coldpress Sheets behave like cheap watercolor paper attached to chipboard- they buckle, cannot hold large amounts of water for wet into wet blending.

Fortunately, they are relatively inexpensive, and may be ideal for your field work, or light pen and ink sketches.  For the most part, the chipboard prevents the paper from buckling and wrinkling excessively, and the quick dry time may be idea for in the field painting.

Outside Resources and Second Opinions:

Mike Hernandez's Supply List for Scottsdale Art School
The Art of Mike Hernandez Kickstarter

Monday, July 24, 2017

Paper Review: WInsor and Newton Watercolor Paper: Watercolor Basics

Winsor and Newton has several watercolor papers under the ColArt parent brand- Winsor and Newton Watercolor Marker paper (review to come), Cotman watercolor paper, Bockingford watercolor paper (review to come), Arches, and Winsor and Newton Professional Water Colour paper.

I'm not a fan of Cotman watercolor paper- in fact, I dislike it and strongly recommend against it, but I am a fan of Winsor and Newton's watercolor products in general.  When I found out that they'd launched another paper aimed at their professional artist customers, I was eager to give it a shot, especially as I've tested over a dozen watercolor papers over the years.

Winsor and Newton's Artists' Water Colour Paper Pad is a spiral bound, mould made cellulose based paper with internal and external sizing to prevent buckling (source).

This watercolor paper is available in three sizes- 5"x7" which is the size reviewed today, 7"x10", and 9"x12", and all pads are spiral bound.  There are 12 sheets to a pad, and the paper is 140lb.

The Stats:
  • Spiral Bound
  • Cold Press/Not Press
  • Mould Made
  • Acid Free
  • 140lb
  • Internal and External Sizing
  • Cellulose Paper

Where to buy it:

Winsor and Newton's Site
Dick Blick (note, their site claims it's cotton paper, but the Winsor and Newton site states it's woodpulp based)

Its World Watercolor Month!  Lets celebrate it together- check out my watercolor all ages comic, 7" Kara, today!  Now available as a webcomic.

Examples Of Use:

Textured paper can really handle a LOT of paint and many layers without paint sloughing off or becoming muddy.

Paint build up can become a bit shiny.

Sample of Brush effect on this paper

 At almost every step, I sprayed this thing with water from a spraybottle to get the colors to run and mix- this paper can handle a LOT of water with minimal support.

Can handle massive amounts of water- this illustration is for an upcoming spray techniques demonstration.  Colors remain vibrant and full of life.  Paints used- Holbien, Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith, and So Ho.

In this demonstration, I wet individual flowers, sprinkled Brusho, spread the color, and allowed it to dry.  With cheap watercolor papers, sometimes this will cause massive amounts of bleeding, but this was not an issue with the Winsor and Newton Professional Water Colour paper.

Although the piece itself is overworked, the paper performed beautifully, and the colors, while dye based mainly (Brusho), are vibrant and clear.

 In this attempt, I tried to allow the medly of colors within each Brusho 'color' stand for themselves.  While still overworked, the paper held up admirably.

If you love watercolor reviews and tutorials like this review for Winsor and Newton Professional Water Colour paper, keep in mind that I purchase all supplies out of pocket.  My Patreon allows me to support what I do, and if you'd like to see it continue, please join the Artnerd community today.  Artnerds (my Patrons) only need to pledge $2 a month to gain access to early releases, backer exclusive content, free mini copies, download access to Volume 1 of 7" Kara, and much more.  It takes so little to support so much, so please join us!

Winsor and Newton Professional Water Colour Paper is:

  • Smooth enough to ink on
Inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida

  • Textured enough to hold pastels
Pan pastels and chalk pastels on Winsor and Newton Professional Water Colour paper, sealed with Krylon Matte Fixativ.

The Verdict:

Winsor and Newton watercolor paper isn't for everyone- I have artist friends who do beautiful watercolors who dislike it greatly.  It has a bit of a soapy texture (perhaps due to external sizing), but colors are vibrant and jewelike, and it's a resilient and absorbent paper.  I think it's worth picking up a 5"x7" pad to find out if it's right for your work, as I enjoy working on this paper, and find that it's a sturdy, inexpensive cellulose paper that can suit many needs.

Something similar:  Jerry's Artarama Union Square Cold Press watercolor paper

Second Opinions and Outside Resources:

Amazon Reviews for Winsor and Newton Watercolor Paper
Dick Blick Reviews