Consider Experimenting With Watercolor Paper if You're at Home Printing

Consider Experimenting With Watercolor Paper if You're at Home Printing

If like so many of us you find yourself at home with a lot of time on your hands, consider using that time to experiment with different art papers and print some of your favorite images from your hard drives.

Well folks, it's been a stretch since I last found myself writing and damn do we find ourselves in a radical situation. I'm based in Seattle and like so many other places around the country and the world, we are under a stay-at-home order and the outlook for the future is complicated to say the least. I'll be the first to admit that during this time of struggle I've been all but productive as things seem to fall apart, however like everyone else who feels they're in dire straits, I'm working to get back on track. What other way to do that than write a new piece about something I actually care about, printed artwork.

Today we're looking at the Aquarelle Rag 240 paper from Canson Infinity. It's a true to form watercolor paper similar to what you might picture using in an art class at school. This means a matte presentation complete with a tactile surface texture that I've always been drawn to. Available in boxes of twenty-five sheets or three inch rolls, you can choose from either the 240gsm or the weightier 310gsm (pictured here is the 240gsm).

Right off the bat, the combination of a matte surface and a clearly visible texture are two things that I've always found pleasing for print work. I'll say immediately that I enjoy this paper quite a lot; the classic watercolor texture is visually pleasing and both looks and feels like a traditional medium art paper (as one would rightfully expect from anything labeling itself watercolor). I would recommend this paper for images where a high degree of contrast is less important or if one is looking for a painterly vibe to accent the existing mood of a given image.

If replicating a painting is something that you've attempted with your photography, then this paper is worth some experimentation. Bokehlicious macro images of flowers? Hell yes, those would look amazing on a paper like this. Beautifully soft nature portraits with a subtle color palette? Yes, absolutely. Anything abstract that could have people asking if it's a photo or a painting? Definitely worth a go. Do you have scans of paintings, drawings, or old film photos? Yeah, that could be pretty awesome. If ever there was a time to experiment with different shots and different papers, it would surely be now.

If you you're at home with time to spare and the means to do so, now is the time to try new things. Look into sample paper packs from different manufacturers, open up your hard drive and experiment with your favorite images. Try new things, maybe it won't work but maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised. Believe me when I say that I understand that the current moment is at the very least complicated, and at most a nightmare. If exploring and experimenting with creative avenues and new directions can help at all, then it is surely worth a shot.

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Michael Kuszla's picture

Well, As a designer too, I'm printing of different type of paper, such as offset paper or a thin washi paper. It is more fragile and you have to care your prints, to fix colors.
I also tried to print on high density translucent paper and, that's simply amazing - you won't have a fine art print, but that's amazing anyway.

But to be honest, when I want images for an exhibition, I turn back to the pro printing studio. Until I go on large format printer, and until I find alternative paper in large format.

Nada Ivanova's picture

you can also wet the paper after printing , with sponge of some soft tissue , to make some pastel painting effect.

Evan Kane's picture

That's an interesting idea, I'd actually be curious to try that on a fresh print and see what might happen

Sam David's picture

Thanks for ideas well worth trying.

James Evidon's picture

On rare occasions I have printed with Hahnemeule Fine Art Wm.Turner paper. It is textured and is meant for watercolor. It doesn't seem to soak up the ink any more than any other matte finish paper. It's quite nice for certain landscape images.

Reggie Cofer's picture

I can just about imagine the frustration encountered by those that, after reading this article, rush out to buy expensive papers only to find that without the tools needed to build custom printer profiles their results are far from what they might have expected. Those that have the tools needed have likely been printing on watercolor papers for years. My personnel favorite is ARCHES® Aquarelle.