Odd Paper

It all started when I saw the sketch book of an artist I admire. I liked the idea of something unusual to spark my summer 2015 watercolor project and ordered what she was using; a hard-cover journal of handmade paper.

Summer 2015 Project materialsIt arrived and I took a good look…….the paper was beautiful and new to me…..I stared at it wondering what I had done. The paper is handmade and has deckle edges…a work of art in itself.  I wondered and stared at the lovely paper off and on for a few months. I know….strange, but I was intimidated and hesitant to ruin its beauty with my artwork.  Finally when time to begin  my second annual Summer Watercolor Project was upon me, I needed to use this paper or buy another kind.

I took my own challenge and have completed ten sketches so far in this journal and soon discovered it was more of a challenge than I had expected. The paper is bumpy, stringy, and highly absorbent.

Blue Evening on draw. board 1

“Blue Evening”.…….No pencil, no ink, just watercolor.

My favorite technique for watercolor/ink sketching is to first do a very light pencil sketch then add the watercolor and carefully erase the pencil. With this paper that technique is not recommended unless you are intrigued by little strings of paper catching lots of the color and adding strange unidentifiable objects here and there in your art. Therefore I changed my technique; no pencil sketch…just go straight to watercolor. By the way, this is considered THE PROPER WAY to watercolor..if that is important to you.

 About The Highly Absorbent Part

Little stringy things scattered throughout my artwork was not going to be the only challenge; don’t forget I said highly absorbent. In the world of watercolor art there are generally two basic techniques; wet on wet, (the paper is dampened before adding the watercolors) and wet on dry (the paper is left dry as you add the watercolors). Of course, there is always dry brush, but I’ll leave that for another blog. I like wet on wet but gorgeous, odd, handmade paper doesn’t!


“Seagulls”…….The seagulls were actually two of those little stringy things. Worked well. I added a little ink for emphasis.

Detail of Seagull painting 7-20-15

Detail of “Seagulls”. In painting bodies of water, usually in the distance the horizon line is straight. Forget that if you are using this paper. Of course, I can always call it Impressionism, can’t I? The watercolor bleeds up, down, sideways; it is in control, not the artist.

I Could Always Quit

But I won’t. I’m already working on the next one using a free-hand ink sketch first, then wet on dry. I’ll let you see how that turns out.

first name signature

12 thoughts on “Odd Paper

  1. Could you tell me the name of the book. I believe it is the one o am looking for but it is not marked. Thank you for any help. Beautiful work!

    • Yes, of course. The book I referred to in my blog “Odd Paper” is the Nujabi Handmade Watercolor Journal 8-1/4×10-1/4″ – Cold Press
      by Nujabi Paper. I think it has about 20 pages, each one with deckled edges. I ordered it from Amazon. Thank you for the compliment.

  2. I want to purchase “Seagulls” absolutely LOVE IT, plus goes well with my décor. Email me with price….love it almost as much as I love you!

  3. Adele, I love this paper, and am really enjoying your beautiful summer water colors. I’ve always been drawn to this type of textured paper and actually made our wedding invitations with something similar. Thanks for sharing your experiences in water coloring..whatever the challenge, you’re up for the task. And having fun with it!

  4. I love the watercolors. I do not have a drop of an artist blood in me, but have been wanting to dabble. Recently, I found some old paper of Vernon’s and Aria’s slightly used watercolors. A book I ran across at the library was my guide. It was a fun way to learn a bit and to fill some afternoons…..and avoid the news. Am CONSIDERING a watercolor class for seniors in the fall.

    • Barbara, I LOVE your story about finding some old paper and Aria’s used watercolors. Good for you for jumping right in and giving it a try. I think you’ll do well at the seniors watercolor workshop in the fall. I feel almost “Victorian” sitting at my drawing board watercoloring. That was a typical afternoon past time for them.

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