I bought a DVD by artist Ann Pember, Painting in the Flow of Watercolor, where she paints a beautiful watercolor on a smooth illustration board. I’ve been using 140 lb. Arches, and I haven’t had an urge to change paper other than trying 300 lb., but I was up for painting on a totally different surface, hoping I could find one that wasn’t terribly expensive. On her website, she mentioned that Yupo, a synthetic paper, could give a similar effect to the board she uses. I wasn’t taken in by a 100% plastic paper, but I did bump into stone paper products, which haven’t been around all that long, and felt they could be interesting. Made of crushed stone and 20% plastic resin, there are no trees used. The surface is slick, the paper is very light and flexible, and it needs no stretching. It’s also fairly inexpensive to try.
I bought a Terraskin notebook, which has a strange quality. Paint adheres on the back side of the page but not the front. It’s sold in rolls and large sheets of varying thicknesses, so I don’t know if that’s always the case. Here’s a look at a few quick tests.
Pigments settle on the surface, and granulating colors leave either dark or light flecks. It’s hard to get a smooth wash with granulating pigments. However, the dreamy effect that takes place is really wonderful. Spritzing water creates a instant salt effect that I used heavily.
I then bought a pad of another brand, Yasutomo. It works very similarly. I’ve found that painting on this surface makes me slow down as the drying takes a very long time (and you can’t use heat to speed it up). I’m content to see what the paint will do. Also, layering is possible, but pigment dries very bright so it may not be necessary.
Here’s the Ann Pember tutorial painting done on the larger Yasutomo on top, where I took a few hours to complete it, and the smaller Terraskin on bottom, which I did quickly, in less than an hour. They don’t really resemble the original, but they were delightful to paint. I can see how I need to spend more time with shadows to create depth. The speckled sky on the bottom is how cobalt blue dries on the Terraskin notebook. Also, on the top painting, I followed Ann’s advice and used a limited palette. I chose French ultramarine, burnt sienna, transparent yellow oxide, and a small amount of cobalt blue. I’m really pleased with the variety of mixes I achieved.