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Friday, July 20, 2018

Rewards of Curiosity

Mi-Teintes paper. Gouache in sky.
Pitt White Marker on building.
I like to sketch and paint on all kinds of paper surfaces. From the very slick to rough, from light to dark, cheap to expensive. Some of the papers are NOT intended for watercolor. So why do I do it?  I love responding to what’s happening on the surface. I don’t like doing the same thing again and again… I’m very curious.

Most tinted/toned surfaces are not intended for watercolor. But I discovered amazing results with pastel paper. For example, I’ve found that the Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper handles watercolor beautifully. The paper has a 65% rag content, 98 lb. weight and is gelatine sized making it sturdy. The paper has two distinct surface textures, one side smooth and the other grainy. I like the grainy side. The paper is highly receptive and easy to work on with a little warping.

Canal Montreal paper, Gouache and ink
Some papers are VERY absorbent and harder to work on. I came across a paper that had a nice texture and a wonderful color. So I bought a pad to try. The paper is made by St Armand and called the CANAL Montreal. My first attempt with the paper wasn’t impressive. It was VERY absorbent. But since I’m stubborn I didn’t give up. My persistence paid off. I had to dig deep and discover what the paper liked. I ended up loving the creative stimulation and a new approach. I’m curious and stubborn. 

A few things to keep in mind when working on a tinted surface…your colors will look different, especially if you are using transparent watercolor. The paint will be influenced by the tint/tone of the paper. 

Mi-Teintes, Sharpie Extra Fine
Since the paper is tinted/toned you won’t have any whites. White isn’t always necessary. But when I want to add a highlight or sparkle I have two techniques. White gouache-I keep gouache a small lip gloss container (screw on lid) in my sketch bag. I don’t keep it on my palette as it dries quickly and becomes useless. White marker/pen. Recently I found the White Pitt by Faber-Castell. It’s a water base marker you don’t have to shake. The tip is chunky and the white really covers well. For fine lines I use the Sharpie, Water Based, Extra Fine.

Canal Montreal Paper
 Pitt Marker in sky and road
 Sharpie Extra Fine for 
I imagine a few folks are raising their brows when they read, white paint! I’ve heard people say,“white is cheating”. If you are entering a transparent watercolor show…it’s cheating. There’s only two transparent societies in America today, Watercolor West and Transparent Watercolor Society of America. All other watercolor shows allow white (along with pastel, acrylic, collage, ink…). Purely transparent painters have a unique skill and their paintings deserve a show of their own. I am a signature member of Watercolor West. I’d say 90% of my paintings and sketches are transparent watercolor. The other 10% I break the rules. If white was good enough for Sargent, Homer, Turner…it’s good enough for me.

I’ve included links to the supplies if I know them. If you don’t see a link you’ll have to do a little research on your own. It's worth noting I take the tinted papers and use them in the sketchbooks I make. Details here

Mi-Teintes, Pitt White Marker

Canson Mi-Teintes Pad with a nice assortment of colors: Buff, Champagne, Light Blue, Moonstone, Steel Grey and white. 

St Armand, CANAL Montreal: I found this paper at the Artisian Art Supply in Santa Fe.

Sharpie, Water Based, Extra Fine

Hope you have a great get out and do something creative!


  1. Brenda - I work with pastels from time to time and keep Mi Tientes paper on hand. Will try using watercolors. Thanks for sharing your experiment. Hope you have a super day.

    1. Debbie, Yah! Give the paper a try with watercolor.
      I recently purchased a watercolor painting from a gallery in Santa Fe. The painting had the slightest touch of pastel. The artist used the pastel to capture the feeling if light just catching the edge of a was so beautiful!! I want to try the technique. I'm hopelessly curious!

  2. That whole “it’s cheating” attitude makes me crazy! Why in the world should there be rules when it comes to art making? I say use whatever your heart desires and whatever works for you. I love your “added” whites, and your curious a determined spirit. Paint on! ❤️

    1. Tyra, Thanks for your feedback! Some people want to be the "watercolor police". It's so funny especially when it's not necessary. Art is suppose to be exploring...not doing the same thing that was already done centuries ago.

  3. I like people who are not afraid to brak a rule, especially in art. Happy creating!

    1. Alina,
      Thanks!!! Art is suppose to be exploring...not doing the same thing that was already done centuries ago.

  4. Thank you...A very inspiring post...
    I bought your Watercolor magazine. Nice!!
    PS I've enjoyed your rescue animals posts very much...

    1. Thank you! Glad you've enjoyed following the adventures of Boone...and my artwork!
      Happy Sketching!