Notes on Hot Press Paper (Mainly: It’s Weird)


"Blue Skirt" - watercolor on HP Fabriano Artistico - 8.5" x 12"


…And by “weird,” I mean “a paper that I have not adjusted to yet.”

I’m mainly confused about why it’s labeled “watercolor paper” when it’s primary used for drawing. The smooth surface is ideal for pen and ink or pencil, but the slightest bit of water will make hot press paper buckle in minutes.

Very few professional watercolor artists use hot press paper – I know because I spent an entire day scrounging the internet, searching for tips about painting on hot press paper. Most of my results were tutorials in which artists explained the different types of paper (hot press, cold press, and rough) then announced their own reasons for using cold press or rough.

Here’s what I did find:

  • This archived thread on WetCanvas, in which watercolor artist Susan Harrison-Tustain explains her technique for painting on hot press.
  • … which of course led me to Tustain’s website, where I was understandably impressed by her photorealistic paintings, but had so much trouble navigating her website that I gave up trying to find any information on technique.
  • A general consensus across various websites that HP is 1) better for lifting paint off the page, but 2) much worse for creating smooth washes, and 3) great for very controlled/detailed painters because HP paper is unforgiving, i.e. every brush stroke will be visible.
  • A page from Watercolor Wisdom on Google Books that notes “HP is often chosen by painters who use bleeding (sometimes called ballooning) as a technique”
  • This interview with Elizabeth Pratt where she talks about applying paint to HP paper through crushed tissue paper and then removing the tissue

Anybody want to point me in a good direction?


4 Responses to “Notes on Hot Press Paper (Mainly: It’s Weird)”

  1. 1 lindahalcombfineart December 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I’m like you. I don’t like HP paper but I think it is very good if you do very detailed, wet on dry painting or drybrush. It is very hard to work with if you use large (or, for me, small!) washes or wet-in-wet. Thank you for the links – very helpful!

  2. 2 Cole December 2, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Linda– Glad the links were helpful! I’ll have to check out some of your hot press paintings 🙂

  3. 3 Gentian December 2, 2010 at 1:31 am

    I like hotpress, I use it a lot but of all I have tried, I think I like the Arches HP & the Saunders Waterford. Fabriano isn’t too bad, but not as forgiving with lifting as the Arches. It’s usually popular for illustration techniques and botanicals. Actually, I’ve noticed a lot of manga/anime illustrators use hot press, sometimes because they combine it with markers and coloured pencil, so the smooth surface is better for those media. It’s great for Calligraphy too when using watercolour and gouache. The nib won’t catch on the paper and splatter. I think it’s nice if you do a detailed drawing and add washes to it also. 🙂

  4. 4 Michele Engel May 27, 2011 at 5:21 am

    I understand why you are impressed by Tustain’s work, but I just wanted to tell you that I LIKE yours much better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

Flickr Photos

Recent Tweets

  • RT @Visa_rewards: HOP IN LOSERS cause we are going on a tour to see some examples of new multifamily construction from around the world. I… 2 days ago
  • Or to realize they’re dying.… 2 days ago
  • The only reason characters look in mirrors is to see ghosts or murderers behind them. 2 days ago
  • Old enough to remember heating up MAC eyeshadows with a blowdryer and picking out the pan without cracking the shadow to DIY an eye palette. 3 days ago

%d bloggers like this: