Monday, September 04, 2017

Paper Review: Cheap Joe's Killamanjaro Block: Watercolor Basics

Kilimanjaro is Cheap Joe's store brand, like Blick Studio is for DickBlick or Union Square for Jerry's Artarama.  I've never had a problem with using store brand materials- my favorite sketchbooks are the Blick Studio Sketch sketchbooks, and I recently reviewed Union Square cold press watercolor paper.

The Stats: 

  • Cotton Rag
  • Cold Press
  • Available in blocks, paintbooks, pads, and sheets
  • Archival
  • Acid Free
  • Available in sizes: 4"x6", 15"x22", 12"x16", 10"x14", 9"x12"
  • 140lb and 300lb
  • Available in two colors- Bright White and Natural White

Awhile back, I purchased a Cheap Joe's field watercolor kit.  I love field painting, and have amassed a collection of field kits, and this kit seemed definitive- just add paint, brushes of choice, and water.  I have to admit- I've never used the kit in its full form- I use a small Kuretake travel kit instead- but I scavenged the block of Kilimanjaro for field use.

So many 'field' watercolor papers are subpar- merely cardstock weight cellulose paper with a texture embossed on them.  Sure, a good artist can make it work, but a student artist is quickly discouraged.  Cheap Joe's Kilimanjaro is one of the few store brands that delivers cotton rag over cellulose, and it's affordably priced so that any artist can enjoy it.

If you're interested in Kilimanjaro paper, but not sure which finish is right for you, Cheap Joe's even offer sample packs!


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The Field Test: 

This is the final sheet on my little 4"x6" Kilamanjaro block.  This illustration was inked with a Sailor Mitsuo Aida.


The beautiful blue here is Urban Blue Violet, a SoHo watercolor.


Secondary warm tone.



Earlier this week, we talked about underpainting- here's another situation where an underpainting is used to help establish shadows.











Kilimanjo watercolor paper can handle A LOT of water, loads of layering, and colors remain vibrant and fresh.  This paper is so much fun to paint on- I love how vibrant my colors are.




The Verdict

Initially, this block was used for travel watercolor sketches, and I was impressed by how well it handled water and how vibrant colors were on this paper.  I enjoyed it so much, I had to field test it for illustration work, and I love it even more!  Colors are crisp and clear, blending is every so easy, and there's plenty of texture.  Kilimanjaro is available in blocks and sheets, and sheets can be torn down to suit size needs.  It's an affordable cotton rag coldpress that handles paint beautifully- I might even prefer it to Arches and Canson Montval, pending my ability to run it through a printer and print bluelines.

If you don't like textured coldpress papers, I recommend Fluid 100 coldpress as another cotton rag alternative with similarly great results.  Compared to the almost rough texture of Kilimanjaro Cold Press, Fluid 100 cold press is very smooth and even.



Travel sketches painted with a waterbrush and a small Kuretake watercolor field set.

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Outside Resources and Second Opinions
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