The Endless Quest for the Perfect Paper

“What and which” must be the most asked questions of any creative teacher or practitioner? What paper do you use, which pencils do you use, which paints, which brushes..? etc. I am just the same and I have been working as a professional artist for over 40 years. I love to know what other people use and I am still sure there is a magic combination out there that I have yet to find, one which will make my work so much better.

Some papers and boards I used years ago have gone, some reappear in an “improved” form which is very seldom improved. My greatest bugbear is the sad loss of the beautiful professional thick white Essdee scraperboard.

If anyone has any languishing and unwanted do let me know. Gearing up for the residency I have spent some time paper testing, to find an all round sketching paper which has a good wet tolerance a nice drawing surface and takes pen and ink. Here are my tests of 15 different papers with approx the same paint, ink, pencil, pen etc.

and more general notes and trials..


My results are not conclusive except to say that all papers are good for something and it’s definitely not the most expensive that will be the best. I like a hard sized surface for drawing but I don’t like the slippery over-smooth surface of Bristol board.

I do like a slightly textured surface which has enough body to take  a wash. Some papers buckle and return to flat, some papers just buckle. The combinations seem endless.
Good for me will be Fabriano Accademia, and Daler Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge, but each still have their limitations.

It’s a constant preoccupation and of course delightful procrastination. One of those “before I get down to real work” activities that can sometimes occupy the whole day The perfect paper is there somewhere, I am sure.  I just wish it would hurry up and make itself known. (I am also sure the magic glasses are out there too!)

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  1. Ha, ha it must be catching as I am pondering paper just now too! That endless quest indeed. x

  2. Hi Jarnie.. yes indeed I dont seem to have got much further yet. I am sure that perfect paper is out there!

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