I have used Arches 300 lb. cold press watercolor paper for many years. However, over the last couple of years I have encountered very serious problems with it.
I am certainly not a regular users of Arches, but I recall wondering if something has changed over the years. I though maybe it was the paint. I suggest trying some new brands-- maybe Lanaquarelle or something else. I'll see if I can find any old art from 20 years ago and see if there is any difference.
Hi Paul, I would suggest checking out Wendy Artin. She uses a variety of papers for a vast array of efects. Since she primarily uses sepia washes you can see how a single tone responds to different papers. She uses the flaws of the paper as much as the good qualities of the paper to bring out what the paper andthe paint wants to be.
All the best Greg
If you and other veteran artist's like you are saying that there are problems with Arches that did not previously exist, then Arches needs to sit up and notice. It would be very unwise from a business point to ignore what you are saying. You all have been in the business long enough to KNOW what you are talking about.
I should emphasize that I have not found this condition on every sheet of Arches.
The only remedy I have found is to soak the sheet for at least ten minutes in a tub and mount it on a drawing board while wet. The next day I wash it down two times with a natural sponge and clear water, letting the paper dry between washings. Before any work is done on the sheet, I test the paper with a small square wash of color in several places, well out of the planned live area.
However, several problems may arise in doing this. One is that you may take too much sizing off the paper. This can leave the paper too absorbent, causing flat, almost blotchy passages of color. Another problem is that there may be isolated problem areas on the sheet. Isolated areas may not show up until you try to paint over the particular area. I have had that happen to me in critical areas of a painting twice after thinking that the sheet was good.
This is an update on this subject: I have recently been able to contact the people at Arches and they have been very responsive to the problem. That is a excellent first step. At their request, I sent a few samples of the problem so they could better analyze it.
Personally, I am devoted user of Arches and I will continue using the paper as long as I can. As I stated earlier, I am not interested in venting my frustrations. I am interested in seeing the problem solved. I know others have had this or very similar problems. Therefore, I'll follow up with any developments.
Paul, this is great. Glad that Arches has responded in such a positive way because they really do have fabulous paper.
I too was using Arches only until now.
I have found that the paper no longer respond the same way as before. Other artists told me that Arches had become so popular that they had done some changes to accelerate the production, and them too were not as happy with the paper.
I am still using it but I have added to my work Saunders Waterford.
I do not soak either of them. I prefer to dampen the back of the paper once the work is completed and press it until dry.
Hope this helps.
Thus far, the people at Arches have been responsive to the problems I brought to their attention. They seem to be very concerned about maintaining the standard of quality for which the paper has been known.
A couple of questions: Are you using 300 # paper? Have you experienced problems such as strong color drying light and chalky with tiny white pin holes?
I recently started painting in water colors again after about a 10 year brake. I started using arches cold press 300 lb. The paper did not work and I went on line to get advice. I am very disappointed to hear your review. I make my living selling art so I am going to try other papers. I will let you know what happens. It has always been a problem with consistency with all papers. The beautiful washes which are the quality of a great water color are distroyed by blotchy broken color saturation.
I too have been using Arches for many years. I have some 300lb paper that is about 20 years old. I just noticed on the few recent paintings that it isn't responding as I expect it to. Any experience or knowledge of old paper and adverse effects? Thanks!
Yesterday I sent another set of samples of the problem to Arches. This time the samples were on sections of paper which included the Arches watermark. They needed the watermark area so they could identify when the paper was made. However, this is a problem that I have encountered off and on through the last few years. I've emphasized that point to them.
Arches has given me every indication of their sincerity in trying to solve the problem. All of us working with watercolor are depending a great deal upon the consistent quality of our working surface— the paper. In watercolor the paper is an intimate component of the artwork. And as you noted, problems with the paper can result in washes that are destroyed by blotchy, broken color saturation.
I believe Arches understands there is a real problem here and I hope they can solve it.
No, I haven't had any experience using paper that has been around any longer than about four years.
Arches has been making paper since before the industrial revolution. Much of the problems I've seen appear to be with the sizing.
It would be good to keep track of how any new paper is working for you. When you buy new paper, even a couple of sheets, make a note of the lot number and the date you purchase it. Usually an art supply store will have the paper on the rack in the Arches clear plastic package. The lot number is on a paper sticker with the Arches logo.
Arches will be doing some lab testing on the new set of samples I sent yesterday.
Thank you. I went ahead and ordered some new paper, so I will do as you suggest, in case I run into any sizing problems.
Your art is beautiful!
I hope this update is the last regarding a problem with the sizing of Arches 300lb cold press watercolor paper:
After a lot of correspondence, I have to compliment the Arches organization on their candor and sincere efforts. They admitted that they did have a problem with the sizing on a batch of paper during production in 2007. While they took every effort to keep all of the problem paper from shipment, some of the batch did get on the market. Arches has stated that since that time they have taken measures so that a sizing problem like that does not happen in the future.
I first came in contact with the sizing problem a few years ago, about the same time as the problem they had. I came up against it again in June of this year. Arches identified the paper samples I sent as being manufactured in 2007.
I plan to continue using Arches. However, there is probably still some of the 2007 problem paper on the market. In the future, I plan to purchase Arches from large art supply warehouse-type vendors that have a high turn-over of stock.