I would be happy to give you the contact information. Please send me an email and I'll send the information in a reply. It is easier that way.
I would be interested in knowing where and when you purchased the paper that is giving you problems. In contacting Arches, it is a big plus to include actual samples of the problem sheets. If at all possible the sample sheets should be a section that contaiins their watermark logo— the figure eight, infinity symbol. There are some codes or other information there that helps them identify some production details. Also, if you still have it, include the package label that has the batch or lot number of the sheets.
I just saw your website and your work is outstanding!
after responding to your email note to me I went to your website. Great work!!
And we've come from similar backgrounds as well!
Duh, forgot to say thank you for your generous comment! :-\
As a Professional full time Watercolour Artist I use only the best and stable materials available. These include Arches 300gms rough sheets. I have never had a problem with the consistency of the paper and stake my my professional reputation on the paper.
Like most mould made papers there is a variation between one side and the other, but this is obvious by the "watermark". One side is the Felt side and one is the Wire side. Also, I am very careful to not use any other materials or mediums with my waterccolour paint. If I use tissues, they must have no chemicals or oils in them. You will get the effects you describe from tissues that have aloh veral for example in them. In that case the painting is useless and even the palette must be thrown out. The oil "infects" the palette and destroys the absorption of paint and water into the paper. You can save your bruses however. It only happened once to me.
It is good to know that you have not had any problems with Arches paper. As you can imagine, I have received quite a number emails from artists who have become terribly frustrated with the inconsistent quality of Arches.
Most of these artists are seasoned professionals who long ago learned the lesson of using only the best materials. Personally, I have been a professional artist for 56 years and I use Arches because I know how wonderful it is when it is performing well.
The artists who have responded work in many different ways. Some use only light pencil lines before painting, whlie others do much more preliminary work. However, the problems they have experienced are the same or at least very similar.
Your response seems to imply that the problems are the fault of the artist, or at least the artist's working procedure. Please do not dismiss this so lightly. Arches has admitted that they have had some sizing problems. I would like to see us get this behind us once and for all.
I have noticed that Arches no longer sizes their papers internally. With only an external sizing, you may be washing off the surface sizing.
Sizing is required for the pigment to settle onto the papers surface and not travel down into the fibres, where many of the wanted characteristics
are hidden from view. Is it possible this cost cutting in production is also cutting into the luminousity of our paintings?
I was not aware that Arches is no longer sizing the interior fibers of their sheets. I am curious as to when this change in production took place and where you learned of it.
You are right. Too much soaking and washing of a sheet can result in the loss of sizing that a sheet needs to perform well. Recently, I have been soaking a sheet long enough to thoroughly wet it so that it can be mounted and stretched by drying. After drying, I wash the sheet down at least once with a natural sponge. This much preliminary work should not danger the surface sizing and is usually standard procedure. Most of the problems of the past have been the result of too much sizing or inconsistent sizing.
Internal sizing could have been the source of some of the problems noted in the discussions here. As you mentioned, without good surface sizing, the watercolor would soak into the paper like it was a blotter — drying to a flat, dull finish. Surface sizing allows a percentage of the paint to dry on or within the surface fibers, producing the luminous color for which watercolor is known.
If Arches is no longer sizing "through the sheet", I would hesitate to think it is for cost cutting reasons. I would guess that it is to enable better sizing control.
I am not sure when Arches changed their manufacturing process. The description of the external only sizing was for their cold press and rough finishes of 140 lb.watercolor papers on a well known retailers web site. I am only in the learning stages of painting and hunger for all the information available. I was of the impression that the best watercolor papers contain 100% cotton (rag) and have internal along with external sizing, thereby making them more forgiving and resistant to my 're-dos' and 'un-dos'.
I think my next paper order will not be Arches. I truly believe one must use the best paper and paint, but I am no longer convinced the higher price means higher quality.
Thank you for being there for those of us still dreaming of greatness....someday.
I recently purchased a quire of 260lb arches paper from Cheap Joes and what I have realized is that one side of it was not sized correctly. My wet into wet washes were separating, caking, and creating halo effects. What is really interesting is that the color on pallete was beautiful greens (ultra and gamboge and some burnt sienna) and then on the paper would turn this awful yellow/brown mud color, and the yellows would halo out. One painting actually looked great, in that the haloing created a beautiful fall scene.
I have contacted Cheap Joes and they informed me that the only company they work with that wants to handle their own problems is Arches. So he gave me the contact info a lady in MA that I have to mail a couple samples to. He said if I bought 25 sheets of elephant size paper she will send me 25 new ones. Cheap Joes said if they fail to work with me they will do something for me anyways- very nice of them.
I hope this helps. I have included two pics of what is happening below.
You have taken some excellent, positive steps while experiencing a very frustrating situation. You are to be commended. A lot of us have had problems with Arches paper, even though they normally produce a great product. From all that is apparent, they are facing some production problems. I should mention that the 300lb paper I have purchased through the last year has been problem free—the Arches I know and love to work with.
Your experience is one more good example of the reason to save the labels on the acetate packages of Arches and make a note of your purchase date. This information is helpful in dealing with your supplier and with Arches if you run into some bad sheets.
Hi William, I tried to reply to you via the artist daily email notification but not sure if that worked. So I'll try again here:
This sounds similar to the effect you get with watercolor ground. I've been playing around with Golden Soft Ground that is supposed to be more absorbent than gesso, but not by much. You get very light washes, that are very easy to lift back out, sometimes pinholing and definitely blotchy washes. A drop or two of Ox Gall helps somewhat, but in general, it has what sounds like the same effect as an oversized surface.
I'm also guilty of oversoaking Arches and taking out too much sizing.
are you mixing brands of paint? Different manufacturers of course use different standards for their pigment preparation. Recently I came across an article about dispersion of the pigments in drops of coffee as they dry on a surface, and that the shape of the grains plays a crucial part in how they act. Flat or random shapes stop dispersing sooner than round grains, the rougher they are the sooner this happens. My thought is to stick with one manufacturer and see if you get the same effect of haloing.
Thank you for going to all this trouble for everyone. I will definitely buy a ream of the paper now that I have heard the solution to the problem. I am a fan, but had not purchased paper in a long while.
I heard through the grapevine that there was an issue and was reluctant to purchase more until now.
Thank you for your work and putting my mind at ease regarding my favorite watercolor paper.