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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Watercolor on Toned Paper

I sketch and paint on papers not intended for watercolor. For example, I’ve found that the Canson Mi-Teintes pastel papers handle watercolor nicely, with a little warping. Mi-Teintes has a 65% rag content, a 98 lb. weight and is gelatin sized making it very strong. The paper has two distinct surface textures, one side smooth and the other grainy. The paper is highly receptive and easy to work on. 

 A few things to keep in mind when working on a tinted surface…your watercolors will look very different, especially if you use transparent watercolor. The paint will be influenced by the tint of the paper. And use less water so the paper doesn’t buckle too much. Since the paper is tinted you will have no whites to bring a sparkle. I don’t always feel adding white is necessary. I have a small lip gloss container filled with permanent white gouache in my sketch set-up. I don’t keep it on my palette as it dries quickly and becomes useless.

Right now I imagine a few watercolorists are raising their brow when they heard, “WHITE PAINT”. In many circles this is a NO, NO! Well guess what? In my sketchbook anything goes. Here is where I am free to play and break all the rules. One of the great joys of being an artist is experimenting with new subject matter and materials. 
I like to paint on ALL kinds of paper (tinted, stained, rough…) and this is only a few of them. A few companies make tinted watercolor papers, but I find the expense unnecessary.

The images you see are from my trip two weeks ago to Santa Fe & Taos, New Mexico.
Soon I leave for Tuscany and I plan to work on tinted paper along with watercolor paper. I look forward to sharing my sketches and adventure when I return.

Happy sketching!



  1. Beautiful work, Brenda! I'm glad you said something about the Canson Mi-teintes papers. I was wonder how they would do.

  2. Always enjoy seeing what your doing. How different the finished result looks on coloured paper.
    Looking forward to seeing your sketches from Tuscany. I wish I could be there to see how you approach these painting trips. Enjoy every moment.

  3. Is painting WC on paper treated with matte medium different than on regular WC paper? I guess I will have to try it and find out!

  4. Brenda, do you still do the "75 Day Challenge"

  5. Thanks for this post. Sorry I am late to finding it. I love working on the Canson Mi-Teintes also. I have actually soaked it and stapled it to a piece of homasote board to avoid the warping. I usually use gouache vs transparent watercolor on toned paper and I love the way the white gouache pops on the page. I like the idea of staining other papers and sealing them with matte medium. I sometimes use a 50/50 mix of clear gesso and matte medium for this. I love your work. Thanks for your suggestions.

    1. Nice to see your comment. It's fun to try different approaches to watercolor. Thanks for your additional ideas. ~ Brendaa