Art Art supplies

Arches Watercolor Paper and Blocks ARE Different!

Arches watercolor sheets and blocks in my flat file drawer

Every time I’ve tried to paint a portrait on a block I’ve failed. I became convinced it’s because the cold press blocks are rougher than the sheets, too rough for me. But Arches’ website and Google say no, “they are exactly the same.”

Today I figured it out–I’m right–and I’m mad! And that’s why I’m posting this little PSA post. I hope others will find this when they’re questioning their sanity after being told they’re the same.

The two sides of Arches 140 pound cold press paper are different. When they are pressed in the mold, one side is pressed against a wire screen and the other side is pressed against a felt mat. The latter produces a smoother surface for painting.

Theoretically, Arches watermark/logo is on the side that is meant to be painted on, since if it shows in a painting, it should be readable, right? That side is the smoother side and it’s the side on which I’ve always painted.

But blocks, which are glued on all four sides and to a hard cardboard support on the bottom to prevent buckling, can only be painted on the top exposed surface. And they are bound with the ROUGH side up! Also they have no watermark.

Therefore, they ARE DIFFERENT! It’s not me, it’s the paper!

I guess I will save the blocks for landscape paintings, or peel a sheet off and use the back when I have used up all my sheets.