Nice cotton watercolor paper (like Arches) is the most important supply in your studio. But it’s expensive, and it’s no fun feeling like you’ve wasted it!
Now, I actually think that if you’re creating a piece of art on nice paper and you don’t like how it turned out, it’s not a waste because you probably learned something from the experience. So don’t be so hard on yourself — after all, it’s just paper. But here are a few tips to help make it go further. 😊
Keep reading or watch the video below.
Practice on Cheaper Paper First
There are so many brands of inexpensive paper for artists, and they’re cheaper because they’re made from wood pulp instead of cotton.
Even if you’re using cheaper paper, you want to make sure the weight is sturdy enough (300 gsm or 140 lbs.) to hold the amount of water you’ll be using. So when I say cheaper paper, I still mean thicker watercolor paper, just not the cotton kind. (Click here for my in-depth testing and review of popular cheap papers.)
This type of paper is perfect for testing out techniques, brush strokes, and colors.
And speaking of colors…
Prep and Swatch Your Colors Ahead of Time
Prepping and testing your colors is super important! One of our artist-instructors, Ashley Prejoles, did this before painting a large wet-on-wet sunset piece, and there’s no way she could have gotten the smooth blended colors that she did if she hadn’t prepped her paints beforehand.
Divide Your Paper Into Smaller Sections
You can cut it ahead of time, or you can use tape to section off halves or quadrants, especially if you’re working on a block of paper that’s glued on the edges (instead of tearing the sheet off, cutting it, and defeating the purpose of having a nice block to keep your paper flat).
This will allow you to work smaller and really make the most of your nice cotton paper! Plus, small projects are less intimidating AND faster to complete.
Just like learning any skill, art is a lot easier when you have experts to guide you along a proven path, especially if you’re not confident with your techniques and you’re just sort of “playing.”
Playing with watercolors is totally fine, but to have purposeful and productive “playtime,” you really need to learn what to do first. That’s why we created our watercolor classes in conjunction with your favorite artists, to help you create really fun projects WHILE learning essential watercolor techniques that will take you beyond the beginner level. You can click here to see all of our watercolor classes.
We’ve talked about ways to make the most of your “good paper” — but there are also ways to make the most of your “good paints,” too! By using just a handful of colors, you can mix any color you can dream up. Click here to learn more!