It’s not me, it’s you: Tackling cellulose watercolor paper.

My 100% cotton watercolor paper ran out. Rummaging through my art supplies box, I found a block of 250g chemical pulp watercolor paper that I must have purchased when I began my watercolor journey. How bad could it be?

Painting the first few strokes was like witnessing the watercolors being sent to a cellulose prison where they remained flat for the rest of their pigmented lives. Two thoughts shot through my head a) a master would surely be able to create a wonderful painting and b) knowing that I was painting on inferior paper rendered me careless. Bothered by the outcome and my being spoiled with good paper, I was thinking of ways to save the painting and add more interest. So I got out my colored pencils and drew over the dried paint. My aim was to shape the landscape and give it more depth where there was a lack thereof. The outcome was quite agreeable.

I decided to repurpose the paper and sketched the same landscape scene with pigmented India ink pens I purchased specifically for this little experiment. Thinking the felt pens would be better suited for this type of paper. The scale for the first sketch was a bit too large, and I felt that the paper, again, would suck the life out of the pens if I didn’t keep the sketches small. After all, pigmented India ink pens are quite pricey.

Thumbnail sketches seem to be better suited for pigmented India ink on cellulose watercolor paper.

To conclude this little detour from my usual watercolor endeavors: I do like the mixed media approach with colored pencils over watercolor paint on this particular paper. The India ink pens I will save for thumbnail sketches on smoother, designated paper as I feel the pens would otherwise dry out too fast on the textured surface.

It was fun to get back to sketching; something I tend to neglect. Wishing you lots of joy on your artistic journey and thanks for stopping by — Laureen.


  1. I’ve come a cropper by changing paint or paper in the past. We develop the materials that suit our practices and when manufacturers change or drop products it can take time to adjust. Hopefully you can go out and purchase some more of your paper.

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    1. Hi Graham. Oh, so you’ve been there too! What are your go-to watercolor supplies? There was an overhaul on the Maimeri Blu paints a while ago but I think it was for the better as they now released single pigment paints. By the way: My paper came in the mail today! Thanks for visiting, it’s always appreciated. — Laureen

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      1. Hi Laureen, I get the bulk of my stuff from Jacksons on the internet and the rest in local shops. I use mainly Winsor and Newton paints and Arche paper for watercolours. Even big suppliers like WN make changes. They stopped supplying a lemon yellow I was using and I got a very chalky substitute. Eventually I found another WN colour that was much more transparent.

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  2. I adore good watercolor paper and hate working on inferior paper. I have been interested in mixed media in particular using pencils, pens and ink. Discoveries can be fun, I think that your paper may not have been the best but enabled you to make some creative paths! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Oh, I will have to look at your mixed media posts as I am sure you’ve created some beautiful pieces. I agree, if I hadn’t run out of the Fabriano paper, I wouldn’t have taken the time to experiment with mixed media. It is fun! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it. — Laureen


      1. Haha that’s the plan but I have only posted watercolors that I have used a white and I discussed about it in one post, the reason why. I am hoping that this year I will venture out more. I am interested in so many techniques and mediums, so we’ll see.

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