What kind of painting/mixed media support am I looking for?
May 31, 2014 11:05 PM   Subscribe

I want to combine the perfect smoothness of parchment with the thickness of 140lb watercolor paper, so that I can use watercolors as well as undiluted acrylic paint in the same piece without the support becoming warped.

To date I have tried:

--wooden panels -- very smooth, but a pain to seal and size, and no possibilities for watercolor unless I use a ground
--cotton canvas board -- I dislike the bumpy texture
--watercolor paper -- great for watercolors, but too rough for the kind of highly detailed acrylic application I want to do
--tracing paper (25lb) -- works beautifully for the acrylics but water makes it pucker immediately

Here's an example of the sort of thing I'd like to combine.
posted by macinchik to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What paper did you try, and how are you fixing the watercolor paper to your board?
http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/tech21.html has some methods.

Or are you using the paper in a block? It shouldn't cockle (warp) on the block.

Have you tried Arches 140 lb hot press? It's much smoother than the cold press.

Although you may want to use a particular acrylic medium on it, over your watercolor. Or just use 300 lb hot press, as per that forum thread.

(Not acrylicist.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:36 PM on May 31, 2014

Have you tried Hot Press watercolor paper? Tape down the edges, wet the surface, then paint.

Also, you may want to explore some Stillman and Birn papers. I don't know off the top of my head which ones are the plate finishes. They make wonderful journals/sketchbooks.
posted by Rikocolin at 11:38 PM on May 31, 2014

Have you tried Claybord? They already have a ground and a seal and are very smooth indeed. I've used marker, acrylic, watercolor, inks, gouache, pencil, rubber stamps, and charcoal on them to good effect. They are smooth enough that you can use pretty much anything-- I only had issues with pointed-pen (Crowquill, for example) calligraphy and catching the nib on the surface. Other metal-nibbed pens did fine, just not sharp points. Don't just get gesso panels-- make sure it's Claybord or Stampbord (same product, different marketing.) Ampersand is the brand that makes Claybord.

You might also like Yupo, which is a tracing-paper-like material that is actually polypropelene plastic in the form of "paper." It doesn't pucker or warp, but it also has zero absorption-- paint that is too dilute beads up.

I have also had good results with plate-surface illustration board, though it gets a little bend in it if you totally soak the board. Strathmore makes a good one in, I think, the 500 series.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:39 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to buy Arches 300lb Hot Press (meaning smooth) in order to watercolor and draw on paper without tape and with little to no buckling. A single sheet is $16, but you can cut that down to smaller sizes. Orders of 10 and above sell for about $10/sheet.
posted by tychotesla at 3:26 AM on June 1, 2014

Canson makes Mix Media, and also All Media papers, which at least come in pads.
posted by bilabial at 6:59 AM on June 1, 2014

Came in to also recommend Ampersand "Bords". A call to your local art supply store may turn up some free samples. Our local store has small samples you can try and they come in different textures, from smooth to textured. I recently got to try out the Pastelbord which is paper textured, and it can be used for wet and dry media. An Ampersand rep gave a demo at our local store and encouraged people to use a variety of media rather than just the specified ones. They make one for watercolor called Aquabord too.
posted by coevals at 2:51 PM on June 1, 2014

Upon reflection I also want to mention BFK Rives paper which was a staple of my printmaking classes. I worked multiple layers of relief and watercolor over etching on that stuff with nary a wobble, but I still think you want a panel with a ground like Claybord.

I did not have good luck with the absorbent ground Golden makes...too absorbent, didn't hold a line of dilute watercolor. YMMV.

Finally, there exist canvases pre-prepped with watercolor grounds that function like a cold press paper and canvas hybrid, but they can be hard to find. I didn't care for them because I don't like texture on my painting support, but you may want to try them out.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:12 PM on June 1, 2014

Response by poster: Awesome, thanks so much everyone. This was so helpful. I did not know smooth (hot press) watercolor paper existed -- and that it can be soaked to prevent it from cockling! It's my next horizon. Clayboard sounds cool too.
posted by macinchik at 9:22 PM on June 1, 2014

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