Review: Canson XL Watercolor Pad

I picked up a Canson XL 30 sheet pad of CP 140# watercolor paper a few months back with the intent of comparing it to my favorite inexpensive paper, Strathmore 140# CP 400 series. It compares well.

First off, it comes in a glue bound pad which is good for bookbinding not good for art journaling. To me a glue binding is temporary and won’t last, I abuse my art journals and thus this pad would absolutely not hold up to my use. The paper folds in half easily and without cracking. This is a bonus if you are intending to make your own sketchbook or journal. The grain of this paper is along the short side, which again, is perfect for binding.

The paper is thinner and softer in feel to other 140# paper, specifically the Strathmore. It’s still stiff, but is not quite as stiff as cardboard. The cold pressed paper is textured more on one side than the other. The Canson CP is significantly less textured than most other CP papers I’ve used, and I’ve used a lot. The reverse size is significantly smoother than the front. You can feel and see the difference in texture. The amount of sizing is different too. The differing texture and sizing means that when binding you either let the different textures face each other OR you pull the pages out and face them together.  It’s an extra step in binding that makes an art journal more pleasurable, versus getting into the journal and realizing each facing page responds to pen, ink, and watercolor differently. I find that annoying.

Ink mix0013
Ink mix0013
 The paper handled ink like a dream. Even my fine and extra fine pointed fountain pens floated on its smoothish CP surface. Noodler’s bullet proof ink bonded with it well and other inks gave me a wonderful watercolor effect. The pages handled watercolor crayon like a dream and scraped acrylics like it was made for it. I noticed even with repeated brushing and scribbling layers of ink no pilling or pulling up of fibers. Either side handled them well. The reverse and smoother side was much more absorbent, so an even pull of credit card scraped acrylic got less coverage but was decent. The paper is heavy enough that I did not notice any wrinkling. Watercolors of course gave a cockling effect that soon relaxed as the paper dried.

Ink mix0015

Ink mix0015
This is a budget friendly pad of paper. I purchased it on sale for around $7; regular price is around $13 for the 11×15 in size. It’s not a bad price, especially for a pad that is easily folded up for making an art journal. I found it on Amazon (see below) for $4.59 in the 9×12 size, which is not bad at all. I was unable to find the 11×14 on Amazon but did find it on the Blick site for about $7.

 

A quick note: I purchased the pad for review. The colors appear true on both of my monitors. The paper is bright white and should appear as such on your screen.

  • Really interesting. I have used it and enjoy it. The price is so good. I draw in ink and then put on watercolour and the paper works great.

  • The more I use the XL watercolor paper the more I like it. Really versatile and accepts a lot of media well. Also, your blog is great Thanks for Stopping by!

  • Annette

    Oh, I love how the inks look. I’ll have to pick up a pad and give it a try.
    On a side note – have you seen Noodler’s new color Black Swan in Austrialian Roses? The pictures in the reviews I’ve seen look awesome!!

  • The colors really pop on this watercolor paper, sizing makes a big difference. I have not tried the Black Swan in Australian Roses, Im not a big fan of purples, but I have to say all the flex nib images Ive seen look awesome. Id love to see what it looks like in a brush pen!