Wednesday, 11 February 2015

With reference to 'the right side of the paper' debate (see previous posts)

by Wendy Burchell

Our BAASA Western Cape Tuesday Morning Painting Group, that meets at Kirstenbosch once a week to paint and share ideas, was recently given this valuable advice on finding the smoothest side of HP watercolour paper and we appreciate it enormously. This in no way detracts from valuable advice given to us by Botanical Art teachers to date.

We were shown how to differentiate the 'smoothest, preferred, felt, upper'-side of the paper from the 'slightly less smooth, wire, under'-side of the paper, not by looking at the watermark, but by holding the paper up to the light (in this case a large bright window) and actually seeing the fine basketweave/wire grid pattern on the less smooth side and seeing an absence of pattern on the very smooth side of Arches HP 300gsm paper.

I have also used Sennelier HP 300gsm paper that does not have the same easily identifiable grid pattern on either side. I haven't tried other papers yet.

We were not told one side was wrong or right, but which side was better for achieving the sharp, clear edges aspired to in Botanical Art watercolour painting and especially important for the printing quality of these artworks. It was one of my paintings on which the difference was pointed out, not criticised, for which I am very grateful. In some instances, I have painted on the 'slightly less smooth side' of Arches paper, even though the Arches watermark read the right way up on that side.

I also used an Arches HP 300gsm block, where some of the 'less smooth' sides faced upwards in the glued block. It was explained to me how and why this occurs at the paper makers,but I shan't go into that in this post. I'm pleased I have learnt this now and not after I have spent months painting an exhibition piece on the less smooth/wire side of the paper!

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the information regarding 'Right and Wrong' side of watercolour papers.
    I was always taught to test both sides of the sheet on the bottom corner to establish which was the smoothest regardless of the embossed makers name. Only yourself to blame then if you used the wrong side.
    Fortunately I now use Schoellershammer 4R board which suits me as it is high white and doesn't cockle or bow. 
    Beth Barnes BA( Hons.) SBA Dip.

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