Monday, October 7, 2013

Two Trees (Paper Testing Continues)

10/7/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
This time last year, the trees were blazing with color. Conditions must not be ideal this Fall, because the leaves on many trees seem to be going straight to brown. Still, I’ve been seeing enough red maples and yellow aspen (now that I’ve identified them, I see aspens everywhere) that I’ve been eager to sketch as many as I can before all their leaves fall off (which may be soon, given how much rain and wind we’ve had lately).

As I was driving through the Green Lake neighborhood today, I slammed on my brakes when I saw this gold aspen (with a car parked nearby, giving me a new sketch to post in the Urban Sketchers Flickr group weekly theme thread, “Cars,” my faithful nemesis). I finished the sketch, rounded the corner, and wham! A bright red maple practically jumped in my path (thankfully, not literally). They must have heard me mumbling about how the weather conditions aren’t right and wanted to prove me wrong.

10/7/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, brush pen,
Strathmore 400 140 lb. paper
The sketch of the aspen above fills the last page of the Canson XL 140-pound paper signature I have been testing the past couple weeks. I filled the Canson Montval signature (the second paper I’m testing) a few days ago. The test so far has been inconclusive. I like the smoother textures of both Canson papers better than the Strathmore 400’s rough surface. But I found myself using pen and ink a lot more often than watercolor the past couple weeks, so I didn’t give either Canson paper enough of a workout with watercolor washes to compare them fairly with the Strathmore, which did get a good watercolor workout at Yellowstone.

So in the interest of gathering more data, I stitched up four more test signatures. This time, instead of binding one type of paper per signature, I put in one folded sheet of each of the three paper types into each signature. Since I often sketch across the gutter, using the full spread, having multiple types of paper in one signature means that I’ll be sketching half of a sketch on one type of paper and half on another, which could make interesting – and easily compared – test results, I figure. Which brings me to a couple of observations I’ve made during testing and as I was making the signatures:
  • Strathmore 400 has the roughest texture, and it’s also the most difficult of the three papers to fold, which must mean it’s somewhat heavier. It reinforces what I’ve observed previously, which is that even though a paper is labeled “140 pound,” it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same weight as another paper labeled “140 pound.” 
  • All three papers I’m testing have a slightly different texture on one side compared to the other. I’ve heard other artists note and sometimes complain about this, and one watercolor instructor insisted that we use only the rougher side, which she considered the “right” side. I don’t think I’m sophisticated enough as a watercolor painter to know how I can take advantage of the “right” side versus the “wrong” side, but it’s fun to experiment with both sides. As far as I’m concerned, the “right” side of a piece of paper is the one with a sketch on it!
Stay tuned for more conclusive results in a few weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Two lovely tree sketches and one nice car (they are getting better and better). Interesting evaluations of the papers. Yes, there is a definite difference on the front and backs of some papers. I notice that especially if I am doing a journal and painting on both sides of the paper. It should be interesting to paint across two different types of paper in one painting. Have fun!


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