Sunday, 2 February 2014

Watercolour Paper Pads CAN Be Cheaper Than Coffee.

One of the things that can make any physical art producer precious about paper is its cost. As a student, this is a special point of concern. A few weeks ago I was shopping at Kmart with a friend and was pleasantly surprised by the back to school stock available, including watercolour paper that is cheaper than a cup of coffee.

To cut to the point, amongst Kmart's back to school supplies I found a TWENTY FOUR PAGE 150gsm, A3 watercolour pad for $5. As a point of comparison, at Jackson's Drawing Supplies one of the cheapest A3 watercolour pads you can buy has TEN PAGES at 185gsm for $58.15 at the time of posting this blog.

To make a point: 
Kmart- A3, 24 pages, 150gsm = $5 or approx. $0.21 per page.
Jackson's- A3, 10 pages, 185gsm = $58.15 or approx. $5.80 per page.

This nonsense is why artists and illustrators are poor. 

As cheap as the Kmart paper is, in my opinion it is only good for draft illustrations and not for final art pieces. The paper is fluffy, as though the fibres haven't blended properly. In consequence, this cheaper paper will be eaten by erasers and is very easy to tear, especially if it has been folded. Other than these issues, it is typical of light gsm paper in that it absorbs water quickly and limits plasticity. It is good for drafting because it is so cheap and I have found myself going through several pads for sculptural book format tests. It is very relieving to know that you can destroy half a pad of watercolour paper to create a test book format or dummy book to test illustration layouts for the cost of a cup of coffee. 

If you do find the paper tearing more than desired, skip past scotch or cello tape and go straight to cheaper gaffe tape from Bunnings or hardware outlets as a remedy. Buying gaffe tape from a hardware outlet is cheaper than an art supplies shop, especially if bought on bulk. Because of how fluffy the paper is, scotch and cello tape can be pulled very easily from the paper surface with little effort and even masking tape doesn't adhere as well as I'd like. Regardless of what tape you use, expect to take the top layer of the paper to be adhere to the tape if you remove it. 

I have had a few weeks to experiment with this paper due to work on The Shattering (working title) layout for a competition. I used a total of fifteen pages for the project dummies or draft pages that were folded, drawn in graphite and then painted with watercolour. I have also made two accordion book format tests with the paper, hence my issues with paper tearing. 

Overall I would recommend using Kmart 150gsm A3 watercolour paper pads as a cheaper alternative to student and artist quality paper for testing and drafting purposes only. The paper is not durable enough for a finalised art piece, but is good enough for use in sculptural book tests. 

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