Sunday, 10 April 2016

Product Review - Cornwall Watercolour Paper

I recently tried out Cornwall watercolour paper from the well-known German manufacturer Hahnehmuhle. They have quite a range and Gerard Hendriks uses their Andalucia 500gsm paper - so does Viktoria Prischedko.. The interesting thing about Cornwall is that is  a slightly heavier paper at 210lb rather than the more common 140lb.Yvonne Harry the leader of my AVA group and a very fine artist, quite the equal of many professionals, had purchased some and used it at our AVA sessions. I was quite impressed with the results so decided I would give it a try. It isn't a cotton-based paper, presumably cellulose or similar and being slightly heavier than the norm doesn't buckle quite so easily. Because the weight is heavier the cost is roughly equivalent to a 140lb cotton paper so you don't save in that respect. 

Cornwall comes in both rough and matt surfaces, the rough being quite pronounced with a distinct pattern. Both come in blocks of ten in various sizes and you can also buy sheets. I bought blocks of both surfaces in the 30 x 40cm size, my favoured size. Current Jacksons price for the 10 sheet 30 x 40cm block is £12.20p.

I recently tried the rough surface at an AVA session. The subject was landscapes, which I don't do very often these days so I was very rusty. getting my excuses in first. The surface of the paper is quite rough with  pronounced vertical lines. Brushing across them produces a broken effect. I initially tried a portrait subject and it was a disaster. It just didn't suit the subject at all. Whether the matt surface would be okay I've yet to find out.

Winter Scene - Cornwall 30 x 40cm rough 210lb/450gsm

A few years back I tried another Hahnemuhle paper Britannnia available in rough and matt surfaces. For a while I quite liked it. It has a hard surface so the paint doesn't sink into the paper and remains bright. Being 140lb it is cheaper than Cornwall and the 12 sheet 30 x 40cm is only £9.40p. A good budget option. My favourite papers these days are Fabriano Artistico Extra White and Waterford High White. I'm inclining more to the Waterford and  prefer the 16" x 12" size rather than the 18" x 12" of Fabriano. The Waterford High White took a little time to get used to as it is different from the normal off white,but is a lovely paper used by many top artists. Unfortunately being cotton it is more expensive but there are occasional special offers. I should mention I also use the Great Art Centenaire paper, another of 100% cotton and it is good but not quite as good as the Waterford (my feeling), although a little cheaper. 


Zvonimir said...

If the sheet is not made of cotton or flax, it cannot be called the watercolour paper.

Made of cellulose like Cornwall or Montval, or from plastic like Yupo, or from saw dust or from flour or from whatever else, makes it only a sheet of some material, but it is not the watercolour paper. Watercolour medium has been defined by the art history, and is not redefined by the industrial complex whenever they want it.

At first machine made papers pushed aside hand-made papers, and many succumbed, then the cellulose-derivatives forced themselves into the category of 'papers' with the persuasive strength of cheaper mass production.

Is this a useless rant? We are against a problem similar to that of paints being changed, reformulated and misnamed behind user's back. Manufacturers take enormous liberties in redefining the raw material and products they make with it, and with with all that the nomenclature that has no truth in it anymore. We also witness they are not shy of rewriting the history, because the history often starts "when they have a new product to announce."

We may allow this product to be called 'sketching board', but Hahnemuehle stamping 'watercolour' on it is just preposterous. The virtue of preserving the medium, as it was defined, has long-term positive effects. It confirms the truth about materials originally chosen to represent it, and artists get a proven benefit of avoiding ill-constructed terminology and lying: and both those benefits these modern manufacturers undo shamelessly.

Originally, materials were not chosen haphazardly. They were defined by the learned men who carefully observed artwork done hundreds of years before, and to that wisdom we pay silent respect every time we open the paintbox. We brag because they did the right job.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Zvonimir. As usual your comments are perceptive and full of information.