Paper Tales

Choosing the best paper for watercolor painting comes down to what the goal for the final outcome is. A little knowledge makes the process a snap!

Mixed media

Paper choices can be as difficult as which pencil to use when going for the watercolor over pencil technique. Cold press, Hot press, smooth finish, rough finish… the list goes on and on. The most popular watercolor finish paper is cold press. Hot press and Rough are fairly popular as well but may be a little harder to find. Artists will differ widely in their opinion on hot press vs cold press vs rough. Their are any number of reasons for each paper.

Cold pressed and hot pressed papers are named for the process that produces them. ArtNews says, “Named for a fabrication process that involves smashing pulp in heated cylinders, hot press papers present smooth surfaces with virtually no tooth.” Rough is paper known for its heavy “tooth” or very bumpy surface. ArtNews goes on to say that, “choosing a product for your needs is highly subjective.” It is subjective but also dependent on what you are painting. The surface can be as important to the painting as the paint.

Watercolor Affair gives a good description of cold vs hot as, “Cold pressed paper has a slightly bumpy, textured surface. But hot pressed paper has a smooth surface finish,” and “rough paper has a highly textured surface and a very pronounced tooth.” Cheap Joes Art Supply says, “The rough finish has an effect close to that of handmade paper and encourages a loose style.” Knowing the different attributes of each paper will help you decide which paper is better suited for what you want for the outcome of the final project.

When looking for which brand to buy, Kimposed has a great rundown of each brand. All of the covered papers are wonderful choices and here is where I’d say subjective reasons are the main ones to consider. Price may be a big consideration when all factors are weighed. Cheap Joes is a great option for comparing prices.

No matter what paper you choose, here are some possible issues you can consider. The red rose is on “rough” paper. It’s fairly easy to see where the paint bleeds out around the edges making it difficult to create sharp finished edges. The softer edges give the painting more of a romantic look. The dark purple iris is on hot pressed, smooth paper. Because the layers don’t absorb into the paper, the layers of paint can be more visible. One great option for the smooth surface is mixed media as colored pencils, ink and other media work well with the paint. The pansies and the variegated purple iris are on cold pressed paper which makes it easy to do to about any finish you you want. Versatile is a great word for the cold pressed finish.

Whatever paper you choose, having a little knowledge about the papers makes the choosing easier. Below is a you tube demonstration by Jenna Rainey. She is very knowledgeable and her videos are easy to follow.

Happy Painting!

Totally Dada

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“With the sound of gusting wind in the branches of the language trees of Babel, the words gave way like leaves, and every reader glimpsed another reality hidden in the foliage.”   Andrei Codrescu (from

The vocabulary of the art world often sounds to others as a strange and different language.  It is.  Strange and different.   So strange and different is this language that many articles and occasionally, books are published to enlighten those living in the dark and unable to speak it.  Translations of the language vary, are ever changing and hard to keep up with.  But the Art World’s unique speech may have met its match now that it has found its way into the Urban Dictionary.

 ArtNews has an article on Artspeak, the book by Robert Atkins.  Atkins’ book translates this strange and different language.  According to the article, Atkins realizes how this unique language may actually alienate people unable to fully decode it.  As Atkins states in the article, “Somehow the language used for describing and discussing art has an unusual opacity, even sadism.” Sadism?  No wonder the urban language is moving in on the art language.

Dada is one of those art movements that makes no sense at all and was apparently the purpose of the Dada artists.  So why create art that makes no sense and purposely is meant to confuse people?  Sounds a bit sadistic. But now we have a new and improved meaning for Dada. According to the Urban Dictionary, “Dada is anti-art, yet art”. “That is so Dada. It breaks all the rules yet make sense.”  Really? And one wonders why people think artists are crazy.

So if you haven’t mastered the traditional art speech, have no fear.  You can always go with the new art speech found in the Urban Dictionary. tells you how.  You will soon be able to tell if someone is “a total Picasso.”  Or maybe you will notice, happily, that someone is “totally Rembrandt.”  But whatever you do, you don’t want to go, “totally Bob Ross!”  And that is “so totally Dada.”

Photo is Man Ray’s The Gift, a classic example of Dada Art!

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