Friday, March 27, 2009

Review: Fontaine Cold Press Watercolor Block

Clairefontaine Cold Press Watercolor Block

From the Clairefontaine Website:


"Fruit of three centuries of experience and the development of CLAIREFONTAINE’s specific technology, this 100% pure cotton paper is one of the finest in our range.

The purity of the water and the cotton which make up the paper pulp, the quality and uniformity of its sizing adapted to modern pigments as well as its almost hand-made manufacturing methods, have created a unique paper.

Its absorption potential and its resistance to warping even with plenty of water, its ability to catch the pigments without dulling them while allowing for reworking makes it exceptionally easy to use. This remarkable paper will enhance the pleasure of painting and the success of your work.

FONTAINE Fine grain (Cold Press)

A paper adaptable to all styles. The graininess has been calculated so that it blends with the drawing or painting, while giving depth to the finished work. Easy to work, it reflects light and allows transparent colors to maintain all their delicateness and a remarkable luminosity. It is perfect for liquid inks"

• Manufactured using traditional Dutch art paper methods
• Mould-made, 100% cotton rag, natural white
• 300 g / 140 lb acid-free, archival quality
• Excellent fixing
• Suitable for all brushes
• Cold pressed
• 10 sheet pad glued on 4 sides
• 2 sizes: 9 ½ x 12” and 12 x 15 ½”

Mandala for Faith

This is the first time I've used a cold pressed block, having previously only used hot pressed blocks from Fabriano and Arches. This is an excellent Example of the visual difference between painting on cold versus painting on hot press paper.

Excerpts from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987 was found Here.

"Hot press has a smooth vellum surface with a very fine tooth. This finish is excellent for soft drawing materials, pen and ink, brush linework, wash, and airbrush. This type of paper is not as popular for traditional watercolor techniques.

Cold press, or semirough, is the most popular finish and is especially good for beginners. Cold-press finish is excellent for traditional watercolor technique and, because of its moderate texture, will handle some detail. This finish is also excellent for charcoal, pastel, and paint sticks."

"The purpose of the texture in watercolor paper is to create a sense of depth. One of the ways to accomplish this is by varying the ways that the finish receives the color. A wet wash will cover the peaks of the finish as well as penetrate the valleys. One color will tend to look like two because of the difference in the ways that the light strikes the peaks and the valleys. When a second, drier wash is applied, it will tend to cover the peaks without penetrating the valleys, and will also miss some of the peaks. A painter can rapidly develop many textural effects with a minimum of effort. How the individual artist develops this technique is what makes this simple medium so versatile. Some experimentation with styles of cold-press finish, such as irregular versus laid, should be done to determine what is best for you."

Mandala for Birthday Wishes

In each of my two examples, I started with artist grade watercolors, then finished the design with Pitt Artist Brush Pens. (Whose ink colors match wonderfully to my watercolors)

These images do NOT do these paintings justice. The color on this paper POPS and has beautiful depth that I just couldn't capture in a digital snapshot. I am very happy with how vibrant my color palette looks on this paper.

Even though a blocked paper shouldn't buckle when water is applied, I did notice some buckling in the very center of the paper - which was also the wettest part. Once dry, the paper was completely flat, and it was at that point that I removed it from the block.

Fontaine is available at Pencity and Hamilton and Brewer


Ontheroad said...

Interesting, I generally use rough or cold pressed watercolour paper, and more often than not sheets that I cut down.

How do you feel now about the cold vs. soft paper and do you see a difference that would make you switch?

And as always, thorough & excellent review.

Biffybeans said...

Hi Zoe, thank you for your comments! Do you mean cold versus hot pressed? I think cold has it's place - I think as the article says above, it allows for a lot of depth... which since I'm doing abstracts, isn't very important to me. I like the smoothness of the hot press and that I can use pens on it and it's glorious. I've got cold press here from Clairefontaine & Canson, 2 different kinds of hot press by Fabriano and some hot press by Arches and various rough hand made paper from India that I got from Blick. I like being able to grab whatever I'm in the mood for, though I ration my hot press supply because it only seems to come in block form which is expensive.... I'm guessing that I can probably buy it by the sheet as well... just don't ever see it in pad form.

Ontheroad said...

Cheapjoes is having a sale on their paper--a good quality paper and comes in hot, cold, rough.

New York Central probably has the largest selection of papers, watercolor or otherwise and sell samples.

I have the least experience with hot press but may get some sheets when I'm in the City.

Gentian said...

I love the colour combination you used for these. They really radiate.

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