Thursday, December 1, 2016

Trees

Trees
Pen drawing
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Admiring the architecture of the trees
Columns, beams, cantilevers
Tension, compression
Contraction, expansion

So much stillness, patience, strength, and beauty

Stillness and calm on a gray winter day


 Översättning. Jag beundrar trädens arkitektur.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter zinnias

Winter Zinnias
Pen and watercolor
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Seeing the beauty in these faded zinnias,
their contorted petals and leaves
have never been more beautiful

As I draw
I see their bounty,
the beauty
in all aging


Översättning. Jag ser skönheten i det vissnade, åldrade.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube redesigns - a graphic design review

I recently noticed that I have no less than four different Winsor & Newton Professional (formerly Artists') watercolor tube designs among my art supplies, so I thought I’d write a brief review of the graphic design of their tubes - ending with a comparative design review of Daniel Smith's watercolor tubes as well.

1. The original tube

This is the original graphic design, which has been around for a long time.

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the original design
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Tube color

White, which makes black text easy to read (and permits personal notations with a permanent marker on the tube, such as purchase date, pigment characteristics, etc.)

Label and text

Black text on white label in easy-to-ready fonts, both serif and sans-serif, and font sizes. The most important information is emphasized in serif; color name in English and the product range “Artists’ Water Colour”.

Color swatch

A color stripe circles the tube at the top, also on the back. This makes it easy to see what color it is at a glance from any angle (even if you store your colors upright in jars like I do). Color name in white within the stripe in a serif font that makes it easily legible.

Logo

Very small logo on the side of the tube.

Color names

In addition to the color name prominently noted in white (serif) within the color swatch, color names are noted in five languages in black on the label (English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian) with English, in a serif font, being the most prominent, the others smaller and sans-serif.

To me, this not only provides an international flair but is also very helpful if you speak another language - the German color names are quite close to the Swedish color names, for example!

Color code

Not to be confused with pigment code, the color code is the code used as a reference by retailers (ex. 0105 178). This code is located right next to the color name on the front of the tube.

Pigment name and number

Pigment name and number (aka color index name) noted on the back, important information for the watercolor artist so you know what is in the tube (e.g. Synthetic Iron Oxide PR101 in Indian Red).

Other information

Series number (relates to price, 1 through 5, series 5 being the most expensive) noted on the front together with permanence rating (AA through C (and i through vi)) on yet another color stripe for increased visibility. Lightfastness (ASTM; I through V, or N/L) noted on the back, but for some reason not on all tubes.

Conclusion

To me, the original tube has it all in terms of easily legible and easy-to-locate information. Both the color swatch and color name are prominently located at the top of the tube. The entire color swatch wraps around the tube. The tubes and labels are white with black, easy-to-read text, emphasizing the color name with a serif font. And both pigment name and number are written on the back.

Graphically, the design is less balanced, but there is still an equilibrium of sorts that works between color stripes and white areas, horizontal and vertical text, serif and sans-serif fonts, large and small fonts.


2. Redesign #1, 2013

In 2013, Winsor & Newton decided to change their watercolor tube design, bringing back historical elements, such as the metallic tube, and making the griffin logo more prominent.

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the first redesign (2013)
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Tube color

Metallic, which reflects light and makes text difficult to read.

Label and text

Black text on transparent label (metallic shows through) in small, hard to read font sizes, most sans-serif on a reflective surface. The only words in serif are “Winsor & Newton Professional”. I actually prefer “Artists’” to “Professional”; this sounds more inspiring and creative to me!

Color swatch

A color stripe on the front below the center of the tube and a thinner color line on the back, making it difficult to see what color it is unless the tube is lying on its own on a table.

Logo

Prominent logo at the top of the tube.

Color names

Color names in three languages (English, French, and Spanish; German and Italian have been removed) in black capitals, but small font sizes. This is the only location where the name of the color is noted.

Color code

Noted on the back.

Pigment name and number

Pigment number only (e.g. PR 101), leaving out the pigment name, in a tiny font on the back.

Other information

Permanence rating and series number noted on the front in a tiny font, transparency noted graphically on the back with a square symbol that is filled in for opaque colors and left unfilled for transparent. Lightfastness noted on some tubes

Conclusion

The first redesign put the logo first and, in doing so, forgot about the readability and usability of the product for the end user! Neither color swatch nor color name is easy to to read, the same goes for the black text on a metallic background which reflects light. The small sans-serif font is not improving the legibility. In addition, I miss the pigment names and find the tiny and narrow font used for color characteristics very hard to read.

Graphically, the logo, company and product name take up more than 50% of the front of the label, crowding out the actual color information. The label feels top-heavy, with only the color stripe providing an anchor at the lower half.


3. Redesign #2, 2014(?)

Fairly soon thereafter, a second redesign was

Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the second redesign
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Tube color

Metallic as before.

Label and text

Black on metallic as before, but font sizes beefed up on the front.

Color swatch

An even smaller color stripe on the front below the center of the tube, and the same thin color line on the back as before.

Logo

A much smaller logo at the top of the tube.

Color names

Color names in the same three languages in black capitals, but now in larger font sizes, albeit all the same size which I find confusing. This is still the only location where the name of the color is noted.

Color code

Noted on the back as before.

Pigment name and number

Pigment number noted in a tiny font on the back as before.

Other information

The series number is now more prominent on the front, permanence rating is noted in a smaller font below. Lightfastness noted, at least on my tubes, transparency with a symbol on the back.

Conclusion

Enter the second redesign, now with a larger color name but a smaller color swatch. The back sides are identical.

Graphically, the logo is still on top but is now reduced in size to a third of the available real estate, making its thin black lines all but invisible on the metallic surface. Still, balance is lacking in the composition as there is no one feature anchoring the design, only several disparate elements floating in space without anything tying them together, or separating them.


4. Redesign #3, 2015


Winsor & Newton watercolor tube - the third redesign (2015)
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.





Tube color

Metallic as before.

Label and text

Black on metallic as before, but the color names moved to within the color swatch and are now in white.

Color swatch

A wide color stripe right at the top on the front, but not circling the entire tube. Only a thin line on the back. Color name in white capitals within the stripe in three languages, all in a sans-serif font.

Logo

Small logo, but larger than in the prior redesign, now below the color swatch.

Color names

Color names in three languages (English, French, and Spanish) in white capitals on the color swatch.

Color code

Noted on the back as before, but now further down.

Pigment name and number

Pigment number noted in a tiny font on the back as before, but now further down.

Other information

Series number and permanence rating noted on the front as before. Lightfastness noted in a small font on the back (but still not on all tubes?!), transparency with a symbol.

Conclusion

The third, and probably final, redesign returned the color swatch to the top of the tube and widened it to boot, yet did not extend its entire width to the back side but left it only a slim line. The color name is located within the swatch as it was in the original design, but in a sans-serif font in white ink that I find hard to read at a glance. I would have liked to see some hierarchy between the color names as all three languages are now located within the swatch.

The information on the back has also been reconfigured, but I must say I found the prior version better, which established the hierarchy of information with color characteristics at the top and company information below instead of the opposite, which is now the case.

All in all, this design works much better than the prior two, but is still a bit hard to read.

Graphically, the color swatch and color names now take center stage, but the logo is so small and thin that it does not quite manage to balance the composition, which carry most weight at the top.


Daniel Smith comparison


Daniel Smith watercolor tube
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


Why not take a look at the graphic design of a Daniel Smith watercolor tube as well?!

Tube color

This tube is black, which makes it impossible to make notes on unless using a white marker.

Label and text

However, the label is white and could be written upon! Black text in sans-serif fonts (except the company name, which is in serif), are just a bit bigger and less narrow than Winsor & Newton's, making this tube easier to read even if the fonts still are small.

Color swatch

A color stripe right at the top, circling the entire tube. The flower logo is also printed in this color, as an extra bonus, very elegant! Color name in black right below the color swatch.

Logo

Located at the bottom half of the label in the same color as the color in the tube!

Color names

Color names in five languages (English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian) in black, with English more prominently displayed.

Color code

Noted on the back.

Pigment name and number

Pigment name and number noted on the back, and not only that, also the vehicle (gum arabic solution) is noted, in both English and French.

Other information

Series number and lightfastness noted on the back, also in both English and French. Separate permanence ratings or transparency not noted.

Conclusion

A very clean and well balanced graphic design, in my opinion. The yellow stripe on top is balanced by and connected to the logo below and the font sizes lead the eyes to the most important information, something you can easily see if you hold the tube at an arm’s length distance.

On the front, only the necessary information is noted: Color name, in five languages no less, company name and logo, and volume/weight.

The back side is less clear, with company information on top, then color code, series and lightfastness, with pigment information located below the bar code. As with W&N, I recommend locating the company information on the bottom and keeping color characteristics on top where the eye first travels at a glance.



Översättning. Genomgång och kritik av den grafiska designen av Winsor & Newtons fyra senaste akvarelltuber - samt en jämförelse med konkurrenten Daniel Smith.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why are watercolor prices going up?

I recently received an order of seven Winsor & Newton Professional watercolor tubes, all 14 ml (Sept 2016) and compared this cost to an order from about 1 ½ year earlier (April 2015). The totals (without sales tax) came to $115.85 and $97.02 respectively, a price increase of about 20%!

Already in early 2015, an art supply store owner was quoted in Huffington Post stating that art supply prices have increased between 10-20% over the past several years.

This gave me the idea to dig deeper into the world of pigment manufacturing and what could be behind continuously rising art supply costs.


Consumer price index and inflation


First, a comparison. During this same time period (4/15-9/16), the consumer price index went up 4.8%. Inflation was 1.5% during the past year (10/15-9/16).

Watercolor tube price comparison
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Background


Did you know that the pigments used in watercolors are the same as those used in other industries? Examples are paints and varnishes, automotive finishes, plastics, textiles, printing inks, and construction, although the exact formulas, pigment sizes and treatments, and therefore costs, vary with the intended use.

These pigments are mostly produced by large chemical companies, such as Sun Chemical in the United States and BASF in Germany. (There are also a few smaller companies, such as Kremer Pigments, that sell pigments directly to artists.)

These companies, in turn, rely on suppliers, often located in other parts of the world such as China and India, for pigments and intermediates needed. This global supply chain means that pigment prices are very sensitive to global events.


Factors affecting pigment costs


As with most commodities, such as cotton, wheat – or cobalt -, in a global world everything affects everything. Here are a few of the many factors and events that affect pigment costs.

Global events
  • Any global or political unrest
  • Global trade agreements
  • Political events and elections, e.g. presidential elections, Brexit
  • Fluctuating currency rates, e.g. the Euro declined 20% in 2015
  • Rising oil prices and transportation costs
  • Climate changes and weather related catastrophes

Supply and demand
  • Pigment demands by the above mentioned sectors, such as the automotive industry. Automotive finishes are one of the biggest pigment uses and as the trends keep favoring black, white, and gray colors, less reds and yellows are manufactured
  • Less demand for, and use of, heavy metals in pigment manufacturing, such as lead and cadmium
  • More demand for, and use of, a certain metal. For example, cobalt went up from $13/lb to over $50/lb from 2006 to 2008 (and later went back down to $13) due to increased demand (for instance for rechargeable car batteries) coupled with a moratorium on export from the DR Congo
  • Changes in demand, such as increased demand for new, customized pigments and colors with special features based on new technologies

Regulations and legislation
  • Environmental regulations of plants, e.g. in China, where much of the production takes place. Plants that refuse or cannot afford to comply are closed
  • New legislation and regulations, such as the REACH Regulation in the European Union
  • Varying compliance regulations by country governments or even large brands and end users

 Business decisions
  • Consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, or sales of companies and plants, in attempts to increase profitability, which reduce the supply base, limit choices, and drive up prices
  • Plant closures due to lack of enough profitability
  • Reduction in inventory by the supply chain due to less global demand


What’s an artist to do?


As I see it, there are two sides to this question.

First, how do we cope with constantly rising art supply prices?


Solutions range from buying less art supplies and smaller tubes or do smaller paintings, to switching to cheaper brands or substitute colors. (Or switching from professional to student grade colors, but this is nothing I would recommend due to increased use of fillers and less vibrant colors.)

Still, as the entire industry faces the same challenges, comparable products often have comparable prices. In addition, it is important to remember that the performance may differ between brands and colors.


The second, and perhaps more critical, issue is, how can we artists help ensure that our favorite art supplies stay on the market?


The answer here is to keep supporting our favorite brands and colors! I, for example, don’t know what I would do without Winsor & Newton’s Cobalt Blue, so I will keep buying it, writing about it(!), and using it. Ditto my other favorite palette colors, papers, and brushes.

Perhaps we should also contact the manufacturers and let them know how important their products are.

In the extension, may I recommend that those of you with deep pockets start purchasing colorful cars if you want to keep that red or yellow pigment on the market! ☺


References


Översättning. Varför blir akvarellfärger allt dyrare? Svaret ligger i den globala försörjningskedjan. Det mesta som händer i världen påverkar utvinning och framställning av pigment och färger.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The best watercolor palette in the world

… is not a palette at all but a white porcelain serving platter! This particular platter is from World Market (no collaboration). It measures 19”x14” and has a flat palette surface of roughly 14”x10”.

Watercolor palette aka serving platter in porcelain
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

The advantages:
  • There is a LARGE palette surface for those of us in need of mixing space
  • The palette surface is completely flat (as opposed to the metal tray palettes I have tried in the past, where there was a valley along the edges)
  • The porcelain surface is smooth to the brush and lovely to work on
  • The white color allows you to see your mixes clearly
  • It cleans easily in the sink (provided the sink is large enough)

The one thing that would have been better would have been flat edges, more like this dinner plate (of which I also have a few in my studio!) Flat edges allow for dollops of paint to remain in place without sliding down onto the palette surface.

In fact, I so love this smooth and sturdy kind of white porcelain, that I also have a few ramekins (3.5" and 4.5" diameter are the most useful sizes for me), crème brulée ramekins (5" and 4" diameter) and a deviled egg plate(!) in my studio for use as palettes. (These are available separately in stores, as far as I know.)


Översättning. 
Världens bästa akvarellpalett är egentligen inte alls en palett utan ett uppläggningsfat i vitt porslin! Det mäter hela 48x36 cm, med en platt palettyta på 36x24 cm.

Vitt porslin har många fördelar som palett: 
  • Just detta fat är precis så stort som jag önskat mig
  • Själva palettytan är alldeles platt
  • Penseln glider lätt över den släta och glansiga ytan
  • Den vita färgen gör att du ser färgblandningarna tydligt
  • Det är lätt att rengöra

Jag använder ofta olika slags porslin till paletter, tex tallrikar med så horisontell kant som möjligt, ramekin/suffléformar (9 eller 11.5 cm i diameter), låga brylépuddingsformar (13 eller 10 cm i diameter), samt till och med uppläggningsfat för deviled eggs/fyllda ägghalvor, alla i vitt porslin. Se ovan för länkar.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Benefits of completing a project

The act of completing a project is important for creativity for at least two reasons.

Completion is one of the final phases of the creative process. It involves:
  • Tying up loose ends and closing open trains of thought
  • Perhaps sending the project out into the world
  • Cleaning up both studio/office/house - and one's mind
  • Time for rest and recuperation
  • Moving on

Accomplishment builds confidence


The feeling of accomplishment when completing something cannot be overestimated. Every time we complete something, confidence builds. I did it! I can do this! And, most importantly, I can do it again.

Tip! In order to build confidence, you can start small! Do a small piece of art, write a short story, take a day-trip. Each sense of accomplishment, of completing a project, albeit a small project, is a building block in the confidence arena.

Completion makes space for new possibilities


Once I complete a project that has previously occupied a large amount of mental server space or working memory, there is a mental release of sorts. As old information is filed away, physically as well as mentally, there is space for something new. An opening for new possibilities.


See this post for more about my spiral-shaped model of the creative process in 4 phases and 11 steps.


Översättning. 
Fördelar med att avsluta ett projekt. När du avslutar ett projekt så stärks inte bara självförtroendet utan både fysiskt och mentalt utrymme frigörs för nya möjligheter.

Se detta inlägg för min spiralformade modell av den kreativa processen.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What is the creative process? A spiral model.

The creative process is the process of creating something new that did not exist before. It's the process of conceiving of, executing, and completing a project.

The project can range from writing a book to painting a piece of art, taking a journey, moving abroad, or finding a new job. The possibilities are endless.

The phases of the creative process are often listed as preparation, incubation, illumination or insight, and verification (Wallas' model, 1926), implying a fairly linear process.

However, I find that the creative process moves along an ascending spiral, not along a straight line. You keep coming back to the same stages over and over, but each time you reach a higher level on the spiral path.

The following are the phases of the creative process as I see them. Note that, at any point in time, you may circle back to a prior phase.


Preparation


1. Idea


I usually come up with the idea first, or - the idea comes to me! If I don't yet have an idea, I start with the next step, Brainstorming. I firmly believe that ideas are best developed unhurried in the mind, not forced or rushed.

2. Brainstorming


Let your thoughts develop freely and associatively around the idea or topic. A mind map might be helpful.

3. Active Resting


Active resting is an important step that should not be overlooked. For best results, it should be incorporated in all of the phases.

What does active resting mean? Taking a walk, exercising, knitting, gardening, picking berries, and similar simple and repetitive tasks are all examples of active resting that allow the brain to sort information, do necessary filing, make connections and associations, etc., on a deeper level. It does not mean reading a book, surfing the internet, watching television, listening to music, talking, etc., tasks which only provide more information to mentally sort and file.

4. Research


Now it's time to gather information. There may be a feedback loop going back and forth between Brainstorming and Research, each spurring the other along.

5. Preparation


The idea is defined and necessary information has been gathered. This is setup time, the final step before getting started. Set up a work space, gather necessary tools and supplies, learn new techniques, practice.


Execution


6. Doing the Work


It's finally time to get started, to write, paint, build, travel, whatever the project is. Here is where the work gets done.

7. Review


This is where you check in with your idea, goal or intention. Are you going in the right direction? Are there more factors to take into consideration or include? More research to be done? Do you need to change anything – or start over? Starting over is more common than you think, so don’t shy away from this option. Better now than later!

This is the main loop, between Doing the Work and Review. After reviewing, it's time to keep working, sometimes even go back further for more preparation or research. The key is to do regular reviews, but not so often that the Work is constantly interrupted. Generally, there are natural stopping points in the process. Stay in this loop until you feel done.

Depending on the length and intensity of the project, it may be necessary to take a break at times and get the mind a fresh start after the weekend. After a break is a good time for the review, as you then have some distance to the project and can see it with fresh eyes.


Completion


8. Completion


Congratulations, the project is done! The very act of completing a project is important, as it signals to the brain that it could get done, building confidence in your abilities and making the next project easier to start. Read this post for more about the benefits of completion.

9. Cleanup


As you clean up your physical environment, the studio, workshop, office, house(!), etc., the mind also begins to file away information it has previously kept accessible. This physical and mental clearing opens up space for new ideas, projects, and possibilities.

10. Rest and recuperation


Time to rest. It's important to take some time off after each project to allow both body and mind to recuperate.


Evaluation


11. Evaluation


After a few weeks, it's a good time to revisit the project. How did it go? Would you like to continue and do another one? Did this way of working suit you or do you need to tweak the process? What went well? What could be done better? Is there a next step?

Sometimes this phase brings you back into the process again, you come up with a few ideas for improvements and do another round in the creative process!


Översättning. 
Vad är den kreativa processen? I denna artikel beskriver jag min spiralformade modell där varje fas eller steg återbesöks om och om igen, men på en allt högre nivå i processen. 

Förberedelse
  • 1. Idé
  • 2. Brainstorming
  • 3. Aktiv mental vila - viktig punkt som bör ingå i alla faser
  • 4. Samla information
  • 5. Förbereda och sätta upp projektet
    Genomförande
    • 6. Utföra projektet
    • 7. Genomgång - dessa två steg, utföra projektet och genomgång, utgör den främsta iterativa loopen inom den kreativa processen, stanna här eller återbesök tidigare steg tills projektet är klart
      Avslutning
      • 8. Avsluta projektet
      • 9. Fysisk och mental uppstädning
      • 10. Återhämtning
        Utvärdering
        • 11. Utvärdera projektet

          Sunday, October 2, 2016

          What is archival watercolor paper?

          There are many terms associated with paper, all useful for the artist to know. Here I make an attempt to sort a few of them out.

          Acid free paper / Syrafritt papper

          • Paper with a neutral or basic pH value (7 or slightly greater)
          • Can be made from any cellulose fiber (plant based) as long as the acid in the wood pulp is removed/neutralized
          • Sizing additives must also be acid free
          • Lignin and sulfur free  
          • Much more durable than acidic wood-based paper

          Lignin/ Lignin

          • Lignin is a substance in the cells and cell walls of wood and most plants, making them rigid

          Sulfur / Svavel

          • Sulfur is a chemical element that is used in several chemical methods producing wood pulp from wood

          Wood-based paper/ Trä-baserat papper, cellulosapapper

          • Made from wood pulp
          • Contains acids, acidic
          • Contains lignin
          • Turns yellow and brittle with time
          • Deteriorates faster if exposed to light and/or heat

          100% cotton paper / 100% bomull eller lump


          • Made from 100% cotton linters or cotton from used cloth (rag, also called rag paper)
          • May still contain some acids so should be tested/certified before use as archival paper
          • Stronger and more durable than wood based paper

          Permanent paper, ISO 9706 / Åldringsbeständigt papper (ISO 9706)

          ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization.
          • pH value between 7.5-10.0 / pH-värde
          • Alkali reserve of at least 0.4 mol acid per kg paper (at least 2%) (neutralizes acid from aging or pollution) / Alkalisk reserv
          • Tearing resistance of at least 350 mN (index of durability) / Rivstyrka
          • Kappa number of less than 5.0 (may contain only a small amount of easily oxidized material, about 1% lignin) / Kappatal
          • This standard does not cover optical properties, such as brightness

          Archival paper, ISO 11108 / Arkivbeständigt papper eller arkivpapper (ISO 11108)

          • Made from cotton, cotton linters, hemp, flax, or mixtures thereof, but may contain a small amount of fully bleached chemical pulp
          • Folding endurance of at least 2.18 (MIT, Köhler Molin, or Lhomargy instrument) or 2.42 (Schopper instrument) / Vikstyrka
          • Archival papers also meet the requirements for permanent paper

          Permanent paper, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R2009)

          ANSI/NISO stands for American National Standards Institute/National Information Standards Organization. ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (R2002) is an American standard similar to ISO 9706 for uncoated and coated paper.

          Uncoated paper
          • pH value in the range of 7.5-10.0
          • Minimum alkaline reserve equivalent to 2% calcium carbonate
          • Tear resistance of at least 5.25 mNm2/g
          • Kappa number no greater than 7 (shall contain no more than 1% lignin) 

          Coated paper

          • pH value of core paper in the range of 7.0-10.0 . The paper as a whole (core and coating) must meet the alkaline reserve requirement
          • Minimum alkaline reserve equivalent to 2% calcium carbonate
          • Tear resistance of at least 3.50 mNm2/g (this generally equals a core tear resistance of 5.25 mNm2/g)
          • Kappa number no greater than 7 (may contain no more than 1% lignin) 

          Conclusion

          There are several ways to define archival paper, both in terminology and different types of certifications.

          Even the definitions themselves may vary between standards, for example, also a slightly acidic paper may in some instances be considered acid-free!

          And, as long as the paper follows the requirements, long-term effects of for example additives may yet to be discovered!

          Still, when I look for a long-lasting paper, I look for a 100% cotton, acid-free paper, keeping in mind that other factors also affect the longevity of the paper.

          Environmental factors such as heat, light, humidity, acidity all have an effect on paper, as do the ways paper is stored (do not store between acidic sheets of paper or on wood, for example) and handled (best handled with cotton gloves), as well as the pH of the water you are using to paint.


          References

          Översättning. En kort ordlista relaterad till beständighet hos akvarellpapper, inkl. syrafritt papper, träbaserat eller cellulosapapper, papper av 100% bomull samt ett par olika certifieringar (ISO 9706 och ISO 11108).

          Monday, September 19, 2016

          Comparing watercolor papers – conclusions

          I have now tested and compared 32 different watercolor and mixed media papers and here are my results. See this post for introduction and photos of all papers, as well as links. Did I find a watercolor paper that did not cockle? Read on for the answer!


          Paper color


          All papers tested were some shade of white. Despite its name, Arches Watercolour Bright White is a slightly warm and creamy white, whereas Fabriano Artistico Extra White is whiter. Strathmore 500 Series Gemini was the only natural white paper tested.


          Watercolor brightness


          Watercolors remained bright on all papers except the darker papers (colors on Strathmore 500 Series Gemini looked a bit subdued due to less contrast between paper and watercolors), the most absorbent papers (colors on Strathmore 500 Series Aquarius II looked more pale), and also Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb. (colors looked a bit darker).

          In general, I recommend not to use too much water on hard sized papers (such as mixed media papers and Canson Montval) or the color will look washed out, nor to use too much paint or it will remain on the surface looking pasty.


          Paper texture


          When using granulating colors, it is important that the texture is neither too prominent nor too smooth.

          Most rough textures looked very prominent (especially Fabriano Artistico rough and also Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb.) whereas hot press textures looked too smooth (Arches Watercolour, Fabriano Artistico and Canson Moulin du Roy). Note that Arches Watercolour rough does not look very rough once painted upon and is a good, if more absorbent, alternative to Arches Watercolour cold press.

          I like the Strathmore paper textures, such as Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor and Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut, cold press (harder sized). Strathmore 500 Series Imperial is another hard sized paper with a similar texture. In comparison, Arches Watercolour cold press has a rougher surface and Canson Moulin du Roy cold press is smoother.


          Paper sizing and absorbency


          Similarly, there needs to be some sizing but not too much or too little. That way I can keep adjusting the colors for a while but it does not take hours for them to dry and they do not keep spreading causing backruns (too much), and they also do not sink in too fast (too little sizing, too absorbent).

          To me, the papers mentioned above have the right balance, with Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut being harder sized and Arches Watercolour more absorbent.


          Paper cockling


          Did I find a paper that did not cockle and that would not need prewetting and stretching? The short answer is no!

          All of the papers tested cockled to some degree, some more than others, such as the rough papers and hard sized papers including hot press and mixed media papers. Fabriano Artistico (rough, cold press, hot press) cockled the most for me, with Arches Watercolour (rough) coming in second. Not even the 300 lb. papers were immune to a slight waviness. Note that I used a lot of water for my tests and did not stretch the papers.

          The only paper that did not cockle is technically not a paper but a board, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board and Illustration Board for Wet Media. (There is also an even thicker illustration board available that I did not test.)


          Pencil/pen/brush and ink


          In short, I would say that on rougher papers, pencil lines also look very rough, whereas hard sized papers may feel less responsive to the pressure of the pencil lead or pen.

          A few good papers for pencil work in my opinion are Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor, Fabriano Artistico soft press, 140 lb and 300 lb, Canson Montval 140 lb, Arches Watercolour hot press, Canson Moulin du Roy hot press, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media, Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media, Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media, Canson All-Media Art Book (containing Canson Montval 90 lb) and Moleskine Watercolor Album.

          Pens work better on hard sized papers, but when there is too much sizing the ink will take longer to dry and will smear if you use watercolors or attempt to close the sketchbook before it has dried. If there is too little sizing, the paper will absorb the ink too fast and the lines become uneven. In the same vein, on very absorbent as well as hard sized papers, brush and ink strokes may look uneven.

          There are variations between pen brands as well, as some brands are more prone to feathering than others (such as Pigma Micron, in my experience). In general, I prefer Uniball Vision Fine and Staedtler Pigment Liner. In these tests Uniball worked best with most papers, with black and glossy lines, whereas the linework of Staedtler Pigment Liner often looked a little gray. Still, Staedtler Pigment Liner rarely, if ever, feathers.

          Good papers for pen work in my opinion are Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor, Fabriano Artistico soft press, 140 lb and 300 lb, Canson Montval 140 lb, Winsor & Newton Cotman, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board, Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media, Canson All-Media Art Book (containing Canson Montval 90 lb), Moleskine Watercolor Album, and Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper. I also thought these worked well with brush and ink.


          “Joy factor”


          A few of these papers felt extra fun to paint on! This is of course personal, but for me, the 300 lb. watercolor papers, the illustration boards, and the acrylic paper score high in the joy department. Yupo (not tested) would fall in this category as well. These are all papers that have something special and that I do not use regularly.


          Cost and availability


          This varies a lot between the different papers and also depends on where you live. My advice is to find a paper that works with your pocketbook! If the paper is too precious, you may not dare to experiment as much as you would on a cheaper paper. Some of my best drawings have been done in the margin of a cheap lined paper! Still, if the paper is too cheap, then your art may not reach its full potential but be limited by the material.

          For a good student grade paper, I like Strathmore 400 Series watercolor. Canson Montval is harder sized and works well with pen, though I found it a little more difficult to work on as colors take longer to sink in. (I preferred the smoother block surface.) Both are acid free but not 100% cotton.


          History and continuity


          As I researched each company, the most interesting thing I noticed was that most of them belong to larger corporate groups, often with some fluctuation in ownership and manufacturing locations. I believe that Stillman & Birn, at the time of this writing, is the only small, privately owned company of this lineup.


          Final conclusions


          Of all the papers I tested, these are the ones I liked the most for watercolor painting:

          Student papers



          Artist papers



          Mixed media papers


          Boards


          “Fun” papers



          Översättning.
          Nu har jag testat och jämfört 32 olika akvarell- och mixed media-papper från Strathmore, Arches, Fabriano, Canson, Winsor & Newton, Moleskine och Stillman & Birn. Här kommer mina slutsatser. Se detta inlägg för introduktion och bild på de olika papperen samt länkar.

          Papperets färg -  Alla papperen jag testade var vita, men Arches
          Watercolour Bright White lutade mer åt det varma hållet medan Fabriano Artistico Extra White var betydligt vitare. Strathmore 500 Series Gemini var det enda naturvita papperet som jag testade.

          Akvarellfärgens lyskraft – Akvarellfärger hade störst lyskraft på de vitare papperen. På ett lite mörkare papper som Strathmore 500 Series Gemini såg färgerna dovare ut pga mindre kontrast mellan papper och akvarellfärg. På ett papper med hög absorptionsförmåga som Strathmore 500 Series Aquarius II såg färgerna blekare ut. Och på Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm såg färgerna mörkare ut.

          För störst lyskraft rekommenderar jag att använda vitt papper, färg av konstnärsgrad (ej student) samt varken använda alltför mycket vatten (då kan färgerna se blekare ut) eller alltför mycket färg (då kan färgen klumpa sig).

          Papperets ytstruktur – Om man som jag använder granulerande färger så är det viktigt att papperets ytstruktur varken är alltför grov (Fabriano Artistico grov gräng, Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm) eller alltför slät (Arches
          Watercolour, Fabriano Artistico och Canson Moulin du Roy fin gräng) för att färgpigmenten ska komma till sin rätt. Se nedan för rekommendationer.

          Limning och absorptionsförmåga – Det är även viktigt att hitta balansen mellan alltför hård respektive alltför lös limning. Då kan du fortsätta justera färgerna ett tag men det tar inte alltför lång tid för dem att torka och de sprider sig inte alltför mycket (alltför hårt limmat) samt färgerna torkar inte in alltför snabbt (för löst limmat). Se nedan för rekommendationer.

          Buckling – Alla de papper jag testade bucklade utan fuktspänning. En del bucklade mer än andra, tex de i grov gräng samt de hårdast limmade (fin gräng och mixed media) papperen. Fabriano Artistico bucklade mest, Arches
          Watercolour kom på andra plats. Till och med de papper som var av 640 gsm vikt (jfr 300 gsm) bucklade lite. Obs att jag använde mycket vatten!

          Det enda papper som inte bucklade var tekniskt sett inte ett papper: Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board and Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media.

          Blyerts/tuschpenna/flytande tusch – På ett grovt papper ser blyertslinjer också grova ut, medan hårt limmade papper kan kännas alltför okänsliga för pennans tryck.

          Tuschpennor fungerar bra på hårt limmade papper men om limningen är alltför hård kan det ta ett bra tag innan tuschet torkar, vilket kan vara ett problem om man vill färglägga sin teckning. Är papperet alltför grovt, poröst eller löst limmat absorberas tuschet snabbt och linjerna kan se ojämna ut.

          Tuschlinjerna kan även sprida ut sig om papperet är alltför poröst. Jag tycker att vissa pennor sprider sig lättare än andra, tex Pigma Micron, medan Staedtler Pigment Liner sällan sprider sig och Uniball Vision fine (min personliga favorit, SPL kommer tvåa) sprider sig på vissa papper.

          På alltför hårt limmade papper samt papper med hög absorptionsförmåga kan större ytor med flytande tusch se ojämna ut.

          “Glädjefaktorn” – Jag tyckte att ett par av de papper jag testade var extra roliga att måla på: de tjockare 640 gsm papperen, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board och Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media, samt Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper. Även Yupo, vilket jag inte testade här, tillhör denna kategori. Dessa är är annorlunda jämfört med de papper jag vanligtvis målar på.

          Pris och tillgänglighet – Detta varierar ju mycket mellan olika papper och beror även på var man bor. Om papperet är alltför dyrt så vågar man kanske inte experimentera, medan om det är alltför billigt så kommer kanske ens målningar inte till sin fulla rätt.

          Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor är ett bra, billigare papper, liksom Canson Montval, vilket är hårdare limmat och kan ta lite tid att vänja sig vid.

          Företagens bakgrund – Det var intressant att få reda på att de flesta av pappersföretagen tillhör större grupper, ofta med viss fluktuering i ägarskap och tillverkningsplats. Stillman & Birn var det enda mindre, privatägda företaget.  


          Mina rekommendationer

           

          Akvarellpapper av studentkvalitet

          • Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor – ett ganska mjukt papper med bra ytstruktur och limning.
          • Canson Montval, fin gräng – ett hårdare limmat papper som även fungerar bra till tuschpenna. Jag gillade speciellt det block som var kantlimmat på fyra sidor, vilket var slätare än det block som bara var kantlimmat på en sida  


          Akvarellpapper av konstnärskvalitet, 100% bomull


          Mixed media-papper


          Illustration board



          Papper med “glädjefaktor”

          Thursday, September 15, 2016

          Selecting papers for watercolor ACEOs

          As I now have tested 32 different watercolor and mixed media papers, here are a few tips for selecting papers for watercolor ACEOs. Painting small format art is for me a way to awaken my creative flow! So of course I also tested how well suited these papers are to small format art, or in this case ACEOs.

          ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. It is a small piece of art, only 2.5”x3.5” (64x89 mm), the same size as standard trading cards such as baseball cards. An ACEO may be sold, whereas its subcatecory ATC (Artist Trading Cards) may only be traded.

          Testing papers for watercolor ACEOs
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Two of the most important factors to consider when painting watercolor ACEOs are paper cockling (a distortion of the paper in areas with a lot of water or paint; curl, warp, waves, etc.) and texture.


          Cockling


          I generally cut my ACEOs to size prior to painting. If the paper cockles too much during painting, it will curl around the centerline or diagonally, causing the paint to pool either in the center or along the edges. If you cut the paper after painting, you may instead be dealing with waves or ripples across the entire sheet unless you pre-wet and stretch it.

          Most papers cockle during painting, often in relation to the amount of water used, but the main question is which papers curl too much. Note that I used a lot of water for my tests, so if you use less water, your results may be different.

          The following papers curled the most during painting causing paint to pool along the edges: Arches Watercolour rough, Fabriano Artistico rough, cold press and hot press, Canson Moulin du Roy hot press, Canson Montval, Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb., and Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media. Again, note that I used a lot of water - and note that this applies specifically to ACEOs, not larger format art!

          In general, the papers that curled the most were rough papers, hot press papers, thin papers (less than 140 lb), and hard sized papers.

          Several of these unfurled once dry, but the Fabriano and Arches papers remained the most curled, especialy the rough and hot press.

          For a rough surface with less curl, try Strathmore 500 Series Gemini rough or cold press or Arches Watercolour 300 lb. (640 gsm) rough or cold press.

          For the least amount of curl, I recommend Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board or Illustration Board for Wet Media. An alternative is to try to keep the amount of water down!


          Texture


          Texture is another important factor as a distinct grain will look even more prominent in a small format. Some art may benefit from a more textured look, but there were a few papers I thought had a texture that distracted from the art itself. The papers I thought had too prominent textures were: Fabriano Artistico rough, Arches Watercolour 300 lb. hot press(!), and Winsor & Newton Cotman 200 lb.

          The paper textures that I thought worked well with a small format were:
          Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor, Strathmore 500 Series Ready Cut cold press, Strathmore 500 Series Gemini rough and cold press, Arches Watercolour cold press, Canson Moulin du Roy cold press, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board, Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media, and Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper.


          Conclusion


          Of all the papers I tested, the following are the ones I would primarily recommend for ACEOs, having less cockling and less prominent textures:

          For best results, use less water and keep removing paint or water that cause pooling. Good luck!


          Översättning.
          En ACEO är ett litet konstverk, bara 64x89 mm, samma storlek som ett idolkort. ACEO står för Art Cards, Editions and Originals, och kan alltså vara antingen ett original eller ett print i begränsad upplaga. En ACEO får säljas, medan en ATC, Artist Trading Cards, enbart får bytas.

          När jag testade akvarellpapper så testade jag även hur de fungerade till detta lilla format och fann då att två av de viktigaste egenskaperna var papperets ytstruktur samt tendens till buckling. Notera att jag använde mycket vatten till mina tester och skar till formatet innan jag målade, dvs jag fuktspände inte papperet.

          De papper jag tyckte bucklade mest var Arches Watercolour grov gräng, Fabriano Artistico grov, fin och slät gräng, Canson Moulin du Roy slät gräng, Canson Montval, Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm, och Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media. Obs att detta enbart gäller ACEOs, inte större format.

          I princip kan man säga att de papper som bucklade mest var de i grov gräng, slät gräng, papper tunnare än 300 gsm och hårt limmade papper.

          En del av dessa slätade i viss mån ut sig igen, men de papper som behöll mest buckling när de torkat var Fabriano och Arches, främst grov men även slät gräng.

          De papper jag tyckte hade en alltför prominent ytstruktur var
          Fabriano Artistico grov gräng, Arches Watercolour 640 gsm slät gräng(!) och Winsor & Newton Cotman 425 gsm fin gräng.

          De papper jag tyckte passade bäst till ACEOs, dvs bucklade minst och hade en inte alltför iögonfallande ytstruktur var:


          För bäst resultat, använd lite vatten och torka snabbt upp vattenpölar på papperet med penselspetsen. Lycka till!

          Tuesday, September 13, 2016

          Compare watercolor papers: Strathmore Acrylic Paper, 400 Series

          This is the last part in my series of twelve watercolor paper tests, comparisons, and reviews. Here I am testing Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper - using watercolors! See this post for introduction and photos of all the papers and this post for conclusions.


          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper


          • Finish and weight: Linen surface, 246 lb (400 gsm)
          • Composition: Acid free
          • Website


          Paper color


          This paper is a beautiful creamy white that works well with its linen texture.


          Color brightness


          Yes, but in larger washes it is important to keep the watercolor saturated to avoid it looking diluted.

          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Paper texture


          This is not a watercolor paper, but it nevertheless has a linen texture that takes watercolors quite well!


          Paper sizing and absorbency


          Very hard sizing, so it will take a few tries to get used to in order to avoid backruns, especially on larger size papers. Use less water and saturated paint for a wonderfully textile effect.

          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper with watercolors
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Paper cockling


          This paper also cockles when wet, but straightens mostly out again as it dries.


          Pencil/pen/brush and ink


          This paper is fun to draw on, both with pencil and pen. The pencil shows off the linen texture with a responsive line that deletes well. With pen, you get a glossy black line and smooth flow despite the texture. The ink brush also glides smoothly over the paper even if the ink may dry unevenly.


          Joy factor


          Don’t deprive yourself of the joy of trying out a completely unexpected surface to paint on – such as this acrylic paper with a linen surface!


          Cost and availability


          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic paper is available in sheets and pads.
          • List price for a 9”x12” 10-sheet pad is $11.79, online it can be found for about five dollars less.
          • List price for an 18”x24” 10-sheet pad is $40.35, online it can be found for a bit over $20.
          • List price for a 20”x30” sheet is $3.65, online it can be found for about one dollar less.


          History and continuity


          Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper was introduced in 2006. For more information about Strathmore, see this post.


          Conclusion


          I enjoy watercolor painting on Acrylic Paper on occasion, just as I enjoy painting on Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board or Yupo. It gives me a fun challenge to keep exploring and keep things interesting!


          Översättning. Här testar jag Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Paper, ett papper med linnestruktur som egentligen är avsett för akrylfärg men som tar akvarell förvånansvärt väl!

          Detta papper är hårt limmat, så det kan ta ett tag att vänja sig vid då mindre vatten och mer färg är att rekommendera. Det bucklar en del när det blir vått men slätar till största delen ut sig igen när det torkar. Det fungerar bra med blyerts, tuschpenna och flytande tusch (tuschet torkar dock lite ojämnt).

          Detta papper är, liksom Yupo, ett papper som jag tycker om att använda då och då för att utmana mig själv och för att lära känna nya material.

          Monday, September 12, 2016

          Compare illustration boards: Strathmore Illustration Board and Illustration Board for Wet Media, both 500 Series

          This is part eleven of twelve in my series of paper tests, comparisons, and reviews. Here I am testing illustration boards: Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board and Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media. See this post for introduction and photos of all the papers and this post for conclusions.


          Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board 


          • Finish and weight: Lightweight vellum, 42 pt.
          • Composition: 500 Series drawing sheets mounted to both sides of an archival, lignin-free white board
          • Website



          Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media 


          • Finish and weight: Heavyweight vellum, 78 pt.
          • Composition: Not known
          • Sizing: Internally sized
          • Website 


          Paper color


          Both illustration boards are white.


          Watercolor brightness


          Yes, watercolors retain their brightness, but watch out for using too much water and keep your colors saturated or the resulting colors may look pale and diluted.

          Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Paper texture


          The Illustration Board has a silky smooth texture whereas the Illustration Board for Wet Media is a bit more textured, more like an albeit fairly smooth watercolor paper.


          Paper sizing and absorbency


          The Illustration Board does not soak up water quickly, which means that you can keep adjusting and moving colors around until you are satisfied. In comparison, the Illustration Board for Wet Media is more absorbent. Both have a tendency for backruns, so watch out for using too much water and keep your colors saturated.

          Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board with watercolors
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media with watercolors
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          Paper cockling


          No, in fact these two boards were the only substrates that did not cockle in my tests!

          Though, if very wet, the thinner Illustration Board may get a very slight wave to it. There is another illustration board available that is almost twice as thick, 72 pt. (20-ply, 0.064”) as compared to the 42 pt. (10-ply, 0.032”) board tested here. The 72 pt. board handles similarly but I personally find it too thick to comfortably cut.


          Pencil/pen/brush and ink


          Both Illustration Boards work well with pencil and pen and delete well. The Illustration Board for Wet Media is more absorbent so the pen needs to supply quite a bit of ink or you need to draw slowerfor the lines to appear black.

          The Illustration Board works well with brush and ink in even, black strokes, whereas the Wet Media Board again is more absorbent so the strokes look more dull and less even.


          Joy factor


          These are both fun, smooth surfaces to paint on!


          Cost and availability


          Both Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board and Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet media are available as boards in a few different sizes.

          • List price for a 22”x30” Illustration Board is $10.39, online it can be found for about $8.
          • List price for a 22”x30” Illustration Board for Wet Media is $17.89, online it can be found for about $13.


          History and continuity

          Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board was introduced in the early 1900s whereas the Illustration Board for Wet Media is a more recent addition introduced in 2009. For more information about Strathmore, see this post.


          Conclusion


          These illustration boards are good options to watercolor papers and worth testing as an alternative. If you are looking for a more conventional watercolor surface, go with the Illustration Board for Wet Media.

          If you like a smoother (and also thinner, which translates to easier to cut!) surface and do not use excessive amounts of water, try the original Illustration Board, 42 pt., which is my personal favorite! If you use brush and ink, the Illustration Board is for you.


          Översättning. I detta test så jämför jag två olika underlag: Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board (42 pt.) och Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media (78 pt.).

          Strathmores Illustration Board introducerades i början av 1900-talet medan Illustration Board for Wet Media är en nykomling från 2009. Av dessa två så är det Illustration Board for Wet Media som mest liknar ett akvarellpapper i ytstruktur, medan Illustration Board är slätare då det från början var tänkt till tuscharbete.

          Illustration Board tar god tid på sig att torka vilket innebär att du kan flytta runt färgerna tills du är nöjd. Illustration Board for Wet Media är mer absorberande. Båda kan få blomningar om för mycket vatten används.

          Blyerts och tuschpenna fungerar bra på båda underlagen, även om Illustration Board for Wet Media absorberar tuschet snabbare. Till flytande tusch passar Illustration Board bäst med jämna tuschytor, medan tuschet på Wet Media torkar snabbt och ojämt, återigen pga sin absorptionsförmåga,

          Av alla papper testade så var det bara dessa två som inte bucklade! Dock så kan det tunnare Illustration Board bli lite vågigt om du använder alltför mycket vatten. Det är dock lättare att skära till, vilket ju är en fördel då det kommer i stora ark.

          I korthet så kan man säga att båda dessa är bra alternativ till akvarellpapper för den som är sugen på att testa något nytt.

          Tuesday, September 6, 2016

          Compare Stillman & Birn paper samples

          Stillman & Birn offers 4”x6” paper samples* of the six paper types of their journals, named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta, and I did a quick comparison between these. For more about Stillman & Birn, see this post.

          These are all hard sized papers in bright white, or in the case of Gamma and Delta, a natural white, called ivory, that is really a soft yellow. They all work well with pencil and pen and I did not notice any feathering. However, due to the hard sizing, areas with brush and ink may turn out uneven.


          Alpha Series: Medium grain surface, white, 100 lb. (150 gsm)


          The Alpha paper is a thin and fairly smooth paper with some texture. It takes some time to dry and cockles extensively if water is used (only light washes are recommended, but it will still cockle). It is quite responsive to pencil and pen despite the hard sizing.


          Beta Series: Cold press surface, white, 180 lb. (270 gsm)


          The Beta paper has similar characteristics to the Alpha paper but is considerably thicker and heavier and cockles less. This paper, too, takes time to dry if you use juicy washes.

          Stillman & Birn Alpha and Beta with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


          Gamma and Delta Series: Same as Alpha and Beta, but ivory instead of white


          The Gamma and Delta papers are ivory colored (natural white/light yellow) counterparts to the Alpha and Beta papers. Because of the paper color, watercolors to me look a bit less bright since there is less contrast between paper color and watercolors.

          Stillman & Birn Gamma and Delta with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.


          Epsilon and Zeta Series: Smooth surface, white, 100 lb. (150 gsm) and 180 lb. (270 gsm)


          The Epsilon and Zeta papers are the two smoothest papers in the lineup. These are two even harder sized papers that work well with pencil or pen but less well with watercolors as they are prone to blotchy backruns as color pools in the valleys of the paper.

          Stillman & Birn Epsilon and Zeta with watercolors, pencil, pen, brush and ink
          © 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

          *I would love to see a sample pack with 9"x12" paper samples of each surface texture and color offered for sale in addition to the small 4"x6" samples currently offered for free.


          Översättning. Jag fick tag i 10x15 cm pappersprover av Stillman & Birns sex olika papper och gjorde en liten mini-test av dem. För mer om Stillman & Birn, läs detta inlägg. Deras papper är alla hårt limmade i vitt eller gulvitt. De tar blyerts och tuschpenna bra, dock kan större ytor med flytande tusch och pensel se ojämna ut.

          Alpha-serien – medium ytstruktur, vitt, 150 gsm
          Alpha är ett tunt och ganska slätt papper med en del ytstruktur och hård limning.
          En del granulering framträder men akvarellfärg tar lång tid att torka. Då det är tunt bucklar det mycket med akvarellfärg och Stillman & Birn rekommenderar att använda lite vatten. Trots den hårda limningen känns papperet responsivt med blyerts och tuschpenna. För mer om Alpha, läs detta inlägg.

          Beta-serien – kallpressat papper, vitt, 270 gsm
          Beta är ett betydligt tjockare papper som passar bättre till akvarell, med liknande egenskaper som Alpha. Det är hårt limmat och tar lång tid att torka.

          Gamma- och Delta-serierna – motsvarar Alpha och Beta, men i gulvitt
          På dessa papper ser akvarellfärgen dovare ut pga mindre kontrast med papperets färg.

          Epsilon och Zeta-serien – slätt papper, vitt, 150 respektive 270 gsm

          Dessa två papper är släta och ännu hårdare limmade papper som tar blyerts och tuschpenna bra. Dock tycker jag att de är alltför släta för att passa bra till akvarellfärg.