I love Forget-me-nots, and they are Alaska’s state flower. I have painted several paintings of forget-me-nots and have not liked any of them. That is until now. I finally found a couple of reference photos that I liked and was able to get this picture composition. Every time I am at a show, especially in the summer with visitors, people always ask if I have a painting of these beautiful flowers, because they are a reminder of their trip to Alaska. Finally, this year I can say, “Yes!”
I have also been learning a lot about paper types. When I started painting, I just used the paper that you buy at Wal-Mart or Michael’s. It is a wood pulp paper and doesn’t hold the water or the color very well. However, I have several paintings that I love that I painted on this type of paper, and I still love them. I do however have them digitized and saved so that if they do fade or something happens to them at least I have the digital file.
Cotton watercolor paper is made of cotton of course, and it stretches and holds water and color much better than pulp paper. It also “stains” better, so the finished painting will last much longer than one painted on wood pulp paper. It comes in 3 main types, Rough, Cold-pressed, and Hot-pressed. I have never tried the rough paper, mostly because I just have never bought any. One of these days I’ll try it out and see if I like it. If you have any recommendations of what kind of picture to paint on rough watercolor paper, let me know! When I started painting, I only used cold-press paper. It is still the main type of paper I use still, and the most readily available locally. Cold-press is not a smooth paper but has a slight texture. Paint will “pool” in the little recessed areas and create a textured appearance to the finished painting. It’s very similar to painting with acrylic on canvas as canvas also has the textured surface.
When I learned how to paint botanical paintings however, I was introduced to the hot-press paper. This is a very smooth surface, perfect for getting smooth petals on flowers and creating smooth skin on portraits. I have found that I love hot-press paper, and the above picture of the Forget-Me-Nots was done on an 8-inch x 8-inch Arches hot-press paper. So, if you are just starting out, I would highly recommend buying cotton paper, even though it is a little more expensive. I love Arches paper, but there are a lot of different manufacturers of cotton paper, most of them aren’t available at local art supply stores however, so you have to look online for the different options. I would also recommend getting a variety of types, the rough, cold-pressed and hot-pressed papers, just to experiment and see which one you like the most. If you’re like me, you’ll like different papers for different subjects.
If you have a bunch of the student grade, wood pulp papers, they work great for art projects that you don’t mind if they don’t last forever. I have uploaded an Easy Valentine Cards video to my YouTube channel that uses the wood pulp paper (see above pictures), simply because most valentines get thrown away anyway, so it’s not worth the money to buy the nicer paper for those kinds of projects. This project is really quick, well, depending on how long you take to decorate them, and they are super fun for kids to make because the painting doesn’t have to be specific or perfect. If you make some cards, I would love to see your finished product!