Hey there, fellow artists! If you’re like me, you love painting with watercolors, but you also know how important it is to choose the right paper and sketchbook for your work. Not all papers are created equal, and some can ruin your paintings or make them look dull and lifeless. So how do you find the best watercolor paper and sketchbook for your style and budget? Well, I’m here to help you out with some tips and recommendations based on my own experience and research. Let’s get started!
First of all, let’s talk about the different types of watercolor paper. There are three main categories: hot-pressed, cold-pressed, and rough. Hot-pressed paper has a smooth surface that is ideal for fine details and crisp edges. Cold-pressed paper has a slightly textured surface that is good for general painting and blending. Rough paper has a very textured surface that creates interesting effects and textures. The type of paper you choose depends on your personal preference and the effect you want to achieve.
Another thing to consider is the weight of the paper. The weight refers to how thick and sturdy the paper is, and it is measured in grams per square meter (gsm) or pounds per ream (lb). The higher the weight, the more durable and less likely to buckle or warp the paper is. However, heavier papers are also more expensive and harder to find. The most common weights for watercolor paper are 140 lb (300 gsm) and 300 lb (640 gsm). I recommend using 140 lb paper for most of your paintings, unless you want to create very large or very wet paintings, in which case you might want to use 300 lb paper.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of watercolor paper, let’s move on to sketchbooks. Sketchbooks are great for practicing your skills, experimenting with different techniques, and capturing your ideas on the go. However, not all sketchbooks are suitable for watercolor painting. Some sketchbooks have thin or low-quality paper that can’t handle water or pigment well. You want to look for sketchbooks that have watercolor paper or mixed media paper that can withstand multiple layers of paint without bleeding or tearing.
One of my favorite sketchbooks for watercolor painting is the Moleskine Watercolor Album. It has 72 pages of 135 lb (200 gsm) cold-pressed watercolor paper that is acid-free and archival quality. The paper is creamy white and has a nice texture that works well with both wet and dry media. The sketchbook has a hard cover that protects your paintings and a sturdy binding that allows it to lay flat when open. It also has an elastic band to keep it closed and a pocket in the back to store your notes or sketches. The sketchbook comes in two sizes: large (8.25 x 5 inches) and extra large (11.75 x 8.25 inches). I love using this sketchbook for travel sketches, urban sketches, and quick studies.
Another sketchbook that I really like is the Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Journal. It has 48 pages of 140 lb (300 gsm) cold-pressed watercolor paper that is acid-free and made from natural white cotton fibers. The paper is thick and durable, and it can handle heavy washes and multiple layers of paint without buckling or pilling. The sketchbook has a soft cover that is flexible and lightweight, and a wire binding that allows it to open completely flat. It also has a clear plastic envelope in the front to store your brushes or other supplies. The sketchbook comes in three sizes: 5.5 x 8 inches, 8 x 10 inches, and 10 x 14 inches. I enjoy using this sketchbook for landscape paintings, floral paintings, and portraits.
These are just some of the best watercolor paper and sketchbooks that I have tried and loved, but there are many more options out there for you to explore. The most important thing is to find what works best for you and your style of painting. Experiment with different papers and sketchbooks until you find your favorites, and have fun creating beautiful watercolor art!