My friend Mick asked recently how I was getting on with the new Waterford `High White' paper. So far not very well. Ken Bromley http://www.artsupplies.co.uk/ writes, in the most recent catalogue, that St Cuthberts Mill made the new paper after requests from professional artists who were searching for a whiter shade of watercolour paper, but without compromising on quality. It also goes on to say `With the new `High White' shade the paint pigments will appear more vivid, and with more sparkle, giving the whole a fresher look....a whiter shade will make finished paintings more contemporary looking, as artists have commented that they felt the original white colour created a more antique look to their finished compositions'. Incidentally Bromley are also advertising another new watercolour paper called `Millford' This is a replacement for Whatman, which has been discontinued, and is 100% cotton rag, mould made and trimmed four edges. Discounted price is £17.95p per pack of five 30" x 22" sheets. Slightly cheaper than Arches.
This is news to me and I wonder who these professional artists are? In any event a very good `Extra White' shade of Artistico has been available from Fabriano for some time http://www.jacksonsart.co.uk/ but Bromley don't sell it.
Myself and two other artists from my Avon Valley Art Group tried this new paper, in all three versions, HP, Not and Rough. The others, both very good painters tried, respectively, the HP and Not. neither liked the new paper and Yvonne, who is an excellent flower painter, said she would stick to Artistico `Extra White' which she considered much superior. I have so far attempted three paintings with it and none have been satisfactory. Of course I'm only a poor old amateur so take my experience how you will. Possibly it takes some getting used to but I have done many paintings on Fabriano `Extra White' and found the paper generally excellent. I won't give up on it yet and will report further in the near future.
Recently another new paper has been introduced by the German company Great Art http://www.greatart.co.uk/. They are making quite large claims for it `prices never seen before for such a high quality range'. `the very finest watercolour paper' etc etc. It is made from 100% cotton but so are many other good papers including Waterford, Artistico, Lana and others. This paper is called `CENTENAIRE' and you can order a sample which I did. Unfortunately this is only about six inches square. I ordered the Not version, also available in Rough, which has quite a smooth surface and duly tried a few swatches of several colours. On this very small sample I can't see what the fuss is about especially as the prices quoted are not particularly keen. It is available in blocks of 20 sheets, six sizes from 18x26cm to 46x5lcm and also sheets 56x76cm. The block prices are reasonably comparable, being dearer than Waterford but cheaper than Fabriano, although Fabriano sizes are slightly larger, 18" x 12" for example as opposed to 16" X 12". In the case of sheets they are not competitive except with the dearest available which is Arches. Five sheets, the only option, are £13.75p. I recently completed a survey for Great Art in which I pointed out their paper prices were not as good as Bromley and Jackson's where they sold the comparable makes. Great Art do have a much larger range of watercolour paper overall. Incidentally if you buy as an art group, Great Art offer 15% off catalogue prices when the annual edition is launched and subsequent orders 10% so this is a factor but not for the individual artist. I paid £3 for the first catalogue to get this deal then another three arrived (separately) unsolicited!
It will be interesting to see what the artist's magazines have to say about these papers if and when they review them. I take such reviews with a big pinch of salt because invariably they are more concerned, so it seems to me, about their advertising revenue and appear to pull their punches and then some. I've never seen a bad review yet. I recently was in communication with The Artists editor about Windsor and Newton's Cotman policy, sending her copies of my e-mail correspondence with the company. I was fobbed off with `very interesting I'll take it up with W and N when I meet them in March' or something similar. Needless to say nothing has appeared in the magazine so take what magazines recommend, and some professional artists, with a pinch of salt and a healthy dose of scepticism. Incidentally I don't have a grudge against `The Artist', subscribe to it and think it excellent on most counts.