I’ve been testing out Hahnemühle products lately, and have more to come (as well as some giveaways!). Previously, I’ve reviewed their A5 Watercolorbook Book and their YouTangle.Art tiles. Today I’m reviewing the William Turner Watercolour Block, cold pressed, 300 gsm/140 lb. It also comes in a hot pressed variety, but that’s a review for another day.
- No. of Sheets-10
- Bound-Glue & Webbing to ensure flatness when wet
- Color-Natural White
- Weight-300 gsm/140 lb.
- Type-Matt/Cold-pressed/Grain Fin
- Content-100% Cotton Rag
- acid free
- age resistant
According to the website “William Turner” watercolor paper is suitable for all wet painting techniques: watercolour, lavis, gouache, tempera and acrylic.
Look & Feel
A watercolor block is a pad where the sheets are glued together so that you can paint without having to stretch your paper or tape it down to keep it from buckling or curling once it is wet. Some blocks have the paper glued on two sides, some on three and some on all four, with just a free corner so you can cut the paper free after your painting is done.
The Hahnemühle William Turner Watercolour Block is both glued and has webbing on all four sides. You can see the unbound corner at the bottom of the photo.
Watercolor blocks have definite advantages, but they can have some downsides as well. The three I’ve encountered in the past were:
- the paper puffed up and buckled with heavy washes, though it usually dried flat. You ended up with darker areas where the paint pooled during the puffing.
- the paper was surface sized. Some artists don’t mind, others dislike it. I have encountered some that I don’t like, some that I do.
- it was difficult to cut the paper free from the block without tearing it.
With the William Turner:
- the paper puffed slightly with the first heavy wash, then flattened. I didn’t get any darker areas from pooling paint.
- William Turner paper is not surface sized, though it is internally sized. According to the Marketing Services Manager, this means “less experienced painters will find that William Turner absorbs the water a bit faster.“
- you still need to take care when cutting the paper free, but I was able to do so with just an old gift card. I got a couple of small shavings off the edge of the paper doing this, but nothing significant. When I used a plastic knife with care, there was no shaving or tearing. I have cut paper from other blocks that were as easy, but never any that were better
I gave a couple of the sheets to artist friends and they reported that off the block, even taped down, the paper did buckle somewhat, so the block form is a good way to use it.
The block comes with a front cover that is very like a glossy magazine stock, and it has a heavy cardboard back. There are 10 sheets of paper.
The paper is mould-made, 100% cotton, acid free, lightfast, and age resistant, cold pressed 140 lb.
I couldn’t get a good photo or scan of the paper texture while it was unpainted, so I’ve used close-ups from two test examples to help. After wetting the paper thoroughly, I used heavily staining and highly reactive paint on the top example, and on the bottom, I used granulating paints that don’t move quite as freely in the water. The scan exaggerates the texture more than it shows up in real life, but not by that much.
The paper is smooth for a cold-pressed paper, yet you can see the texture in it, especially in the amount of granulation. Both types of paint flowed really well. I had no problem getting hard edges when I tried, but this paper wants to give you soft edges. I’ll get into more specifics in the Performance section.
There are 10 sheets in the block, and I knew I didn’t want to use up too many with my initial tests, so I taped off the first sheet into quarters.
In one quarter, I splashed on two types of masking fluid and some strips of masking tape. One of the masking fluids is a cheap brand that tears most papers (but not all) and the other is a more expensive brand that I’ve never had a problem with. I did a wash over the entire section and left the tape and fluid on overnight.
There was no problem peeling off the tape, and the expensive masking fluid came off easily. The cheap brand tore off chunks. I slapped on some more paint at random to see how well it would cover. The white spots are from the cheap stuff. There was no damage from the tape. There was a slight difference in coverage in some areas where the expensive masking fluid was. To be honest though, I’m not sure if that was from the fluid or from oils on my fingers when I removed it.
One way or the other, I would use masking fluid with care, on this paper. Not a bad idea with any paper, really.
With the second and third quarter, I tested the paper with heavy washes, wet-into-wet techniques and lifting color. The difference was that I used heavy staining, highly reactive colors in the second quarter, and heavy granulating, less re-active colors in the third.
After wetting the paper thoroughly, I started dropping in juicy wet paint into the second quarter. I was using reactive colors, but was still pleased with the way the color exploded across the page. Maybe too much so. Usually, knowing I’m going to destroy the paper, I try not to start with anything I’ll regret ruining. This time, I really like the way the colors flowed. It hurt a little to ruin it. But I know I’ll be able to do something as beautiful again.
I didn’t expect the staining color to lift well, but after spending half an hour of lifting, I did manage to get tiny white specks that were almost white as well as some ghostly lightening of color. I realized it would take forever to lift significant color with no promise of real success, so I went on to do other terrible things to the paper (and I’m mad at myself. I meant to scan in this step, but forgot).
To test for unseen damage from the lifting (I was a bit worried about those white specks), I ran my fingers across the paper to see if I could feel anything. but I didn’t. Next, I used a fountain pen, knowing that the metal nib would catch on any damage. I drew my rose without any pilling or catching on the paper.
Then I painted the rose (smearing the non-waterproof fountain pen ink), let it dry and lifted some more. I didn’t get to white, nor did I expect to. Still no damage. I painted some more, added some white ink, re-painted and really scrubbed this time. However, I only lifted and scrubbed once the paint was dry-scrubbing into wet was for another testing area.
I kept at this until I did finally damage the paper. It took a while, and it doesn’t show very well in the finished painting.
On the next section, I repeated my first steps with less reactive and less staining colors. Although, the colors didn’t explode (I didn’t expect them to), they did flow easily. And when I started lifting color, it lifted so easily!
I got to white almost instantly in some areas.
Using the fountain pen again to test for damage, I found none. And then, dad-gum it, I liked my little silky chicken in the top hat, so I stopped before destroying him. Even I have my limits, lol.
In this last quarter of the page, I kept painting into the wet paint until I overworked it. Neither of the colors (Turmeric and Cobalt Blue) used were staining. Both lifted easily while wet and after drying. I think the paper did well. I’d put it on the high-end of average for lifting and scrubbing while wet, and above average for lifting and scrubbing once dry.
Having done my tests, I was ready for a real painting. I decided that since lifting color was a real ability with this paper, I’d play around with some fog.
The Hahnemühle William Turner Watercolour Cold Pressed Block has mould-made 100% cotton paper with an interesting surface. It is smooth, with a texture that allows the pigments to flow freely and loves the granulating pigments. It’s excellent for wet-into-wet techniques.
Masking fluid should be used with care. I wouldn’t recommend it for extensive use with masking fluid unless you were sure the brand you use works on the paper.
Colors lift well. This is a plus or a con depending on your painting techniques. (Big plus for me!)
The paper holds up well to scrubbing, especially when paint is dry.
Personally, I like the texture and the way this paper handles. I’m always game to adjusting my techniques to suit a paper, but with this one, I felt I was at home. I just like the way the paint looks on the page, even just a plain wash. I know I’ll be using more of this paper.
You can buy Hahnemühle products at the following stores (at the time this review was posted, a couple of the stores had not yet listed the paper on their websites).
DAVINCI ARTIST SUPPLY
132 WEST 21ST STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10011
WET PAINT INC
1684 GRAND AVENUE
ST. PAUL, MN 55105
Hyatt’s Graphic Supply
910 Main St.
Buffalo, NY 14022
Rochester Art Supply Inc.
150 W. Main St.
Rochester, NY 14614
FLAX ART & DESIGN –
3600 S EL CAMINO REAL
SAN MATEO, CA 94403
Hahnemühle is the oldest German papermaker, manufacturing papers for traditional and digital artists as well as industrial papers. Their distinguishing feature is the ability to combine tradition with modern technologies. They developed the first acid free and archivable machine made paper and the first Fine Art Inkjet papers.
They have produced their paper at the same place for more than 430 years.
Papers characterized by the Hahnemühle ‘Rooster’ are produced with focus on quality instead of quantity.
You can read more about Hahnemühle’s history here.
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