I’ve been working on a variety of materials these last few weeks and they all respond differently to paint and thus make it handle in different manners. Here are the different materials I’ve been working with:
Gesso’d board: I prep my boards with 4 layers of rough gesso. The gesso texture responds much like primed canvas. The paint spreads smoothly and evenly over the gesso. Because the gesso I use is very rough it tends to be hard on my brushes.
Stonehenge paper, raw: This is a printmaking paper, it’s meant to be soaked and blotted before being pressed into copper plates under extreme pressure, as such it has little to no sizing. That means that it’s super absorbent. I can feel my brush sticking to the raw paper and skipping. This can be used to good effect if known in advance, but it also means that if you want to work in a wash you have to be careful.
Stonehenge paper, 1 watered coat of gesso: The thin coat of gesso leaves the texture of the paper behind and stops the super absorbent effect of the paper. This effect could be achieved with a thin watered down coating of matte medium or acrylic medium as well. I did have some texture from the gesso but not much, I would rub the medium or gesso on with a sponge next time to eliminate the texture totally. The brush moved around on the page much like on a smoothly gesso’d canvas or board.
Stonehenge paper, 2 coats of gesso: This performed like any other gesso’d surface. The brush moved around with ease, little skipping, the texture showed through in the painting and there was little paint absorbed into the gesso. Kind of a waste of paper really, in that it’s a fantastic paper and I could have gesso’d something less expensive and gotten a similar effect.
Fabriano Artistico 140lb, cold pressed, raw: I was surprised to find that this paper was fairly absorbent. I found it less so than the Stonehenge but I could feel the difference between this paper and the Stonehenge. Less skipping of the brush and less paint absorbed. I found the texture pleasing, but then this is my paper for choice for watercolors and art journaling. It’s not too rough, not too smooth. This was good paper for acrylic.
Fabriano Artistico 140lb, cold pressed 2 coats of gesso: I know there are watercolorists screaming in agony right now at the thought of me applying gesso to such a perfect paper. It was scraps left over from an art journal project… Don’t kill me. Love it, same as any gesso’d surface the paint performed as expected, little skipping, nice gesso texture. The cold pressed texture also showed through and was doubly nice. Though a blasphemy in some circles this was quite nice.
Strathmore 140lb Cold Pressed, raw: Strathmore cold pressed is my go to sketch paper for art journaling and sketching. It’s cheap, easily available and binds up nicely into a journal with no cracking. I found that this paper was less absorbent in the raw state than the other papers, which made it very nice to work with raw. It also has a very pleasing rough texture that I love. The backside is smoother and still not that absorbent. I found that the brush responded just slightly less smooth than it does on gesso’d paper. Few skips and drying of my brush. I was able to work in a wash easily and enjoyed this paper quite well.
Strathmore 140lb cold pressed, 2 coats gesso: This performed as any other gesso’d surface.
Gesso’d recycled poster: This stuff is a lot of work for little reward. Each sheet takes 4 coats of gesso and then I have to be careful of the gesso peeling off the surface. It annoys the bejesus out of me. However, I do love the lettering and colors that peek out from around the edges. If I sanded the pages (sure add ANOTHER step) the poster would work better. I love it as a gesso’d surface but get annoyed.
I’ve picked up a few other papers to mess around with today. Since it came out high on my list of good stuff so far, I snagged a new size of Strathmore Watercolor paper, at only $4.99 @ ACMoore it was a good deal. I also snagged a Canson XL Bristol sketchbook. I’ll be testing that out in the upcoming weeks. I noticed that Strathmore now has Bristol out in a little 6×6 inch pad, which I thought was super cool. Also the new size of sketchbooks/journals seems to be 6x12inches. It’s an odd but lovely size.
Anyway, I’ve added links above to everything but I don’t get anything from the companies for linking to the vendors. (But hey if any of the vendors or companies wants to throw me a bone fo doing so I’m game;)