If it was not enough to have to decide which make of paper is best for our style of painting, to confuse the issue, we have also to choose the weight of the paper.
I know, it is a complete nightmare when we start with watercolour painting!
The weight of a paper is achieved while being manufactured.
It happens under a press
Please watch this information given with ARCHES paper
Almost all artists will tell you not to buy under 300grm or 140lb. It is true!
Under 300 grms you will need to stretch the paper otherwise it will buckle while doing washes, which is very frustrating as the paint settles into the creases when drying. Not what we have in mind for a good result!
However, if you are playing with a lot of water, I would advise to stretch a 300 grms paper.
To play safe, you might want to buy a 638 grms paper (300lb). With this one, you surely will not need stretching.
The one drawback with heavy paper is the heavier it is, the more colour you will need to apply.
The reason being, the colour sinks into the paper leaving a weaker colour while drying than on a thinner paper.
I have worked once on a 90lb (190grms) paper. Because of its low weight, the colours remain very vibrant. I really loved the effect. But... no good with washes. It is reserved for dry brush only.
Personally I do not like to stretch paper. I do it once in a while though.
I like to keep the surface as it is to paint on it. If the paper buckles, when the watercolour is finished and dry, I spray the back of the picture, leave it to dry for 48 hours between heavy books. Do not be tempted to have a look, you would disturb the drying time and mess up everything.
And Now we have the surface to think about!
You buy the paper: HP (hot press) NOT (cold press) ROUGH
HP is mostly for illustration work. I have tried to do washes on it, but it did not behave the way I wanted. Some artists use it too for charcoal or pencil drawing, something I will try.
NOT is the surface I like best. It has a very small tooth. I absolutely love this surface for my work.
ROUGH, says it all. A rough surface with a tooth greater than the NOT. It is good for landscape.
Next time... how I stretch my paper.