Kevin Frost

Rough is Rauh

Funny thing about watercolor paper, well funny for me anyway: I have, for as long as I can remember knowing anything about the difference between the different kinds of watercolor papers, preferred the grana satinada – hot-pressed “satin grain” that most of you probably know by its French name and its premier brand: none other than Arches, which is to say the high-end brand owned by Canson.

And high-end it is! Which is why I started buying Baohong Paper, and that’s a cheaper brand that’s pretty similar and anyway plenty good enough for a mere Working Artist. I would link to their home page, but in two years of trying I haven’t found one. WTF? OK, just keep making the paper and I won’t complain.

But right now, as long as I’m here, I wish to say something about the Rough, the Rauh, the Grain Torchon. Because it’s growing on me.

I used to keep a ratio of about 4:2:1 on hand, with the “4” being simple cold-pressed fine-grain stuff because it’s cheaper; “2” being the fancy satin stuff that is oh so forgiving of a hand born to draw wielding the brush; and the “1” being the rough stuff for experiments.

But for a while now I’ve been experimenting with some new techniques on the rough end, and just letting myself go because I don’t think of it as the main paper. And frankly the larger sizes are still beyond me – here I’m talking about 23x31 and thereabouts.

And I’m here to say, on this quiet Thursday night of painting in กรุงเทพ, that I’m getting pretty excited about the possibilities. Yes, there is a greater risk of failure with every application of the paint. And yes, that’s a little hard to deal with if you’re on a budget, because shitty “rough” watercolor paper is never, ever your friend.

But with the good stuff, when you make it through alive: whooooa, this is some heavy saturation. Picture here is probably not finished, but if it is then let’s remember that it’s Baohong Artist’s Watercolor Paper, 300g, 23x31cm, and the paint used is a variety of watercolors plus one quick shot of Molotow for the mouth. Painters: always keep a few Molotows handy!

Your reward, Dear Reader, for finding this post; and mine for trusting this paper:


PS: once upon a time, in a gallery in Berlin Mitte, I saw a Nolde seascape on rauh and it was nothing but a sketch, around 30x40cm, surely knocked off in minutes. At 40,000 EUR it was one of the greatest bargains I’ve ever seen in a commercial gallery. Nur für Kenner as they might say, and pricey, but: คุ้มค่า!