Thursday, August 08, 2019

Strathmore Illustration Board and Watercolor

Watercolor on Strathmore Illustration Board

Generally, when I do watercolor illustration, I go for watercolor paper.  I use both cellulose and cottonrag, and my tastes are pretty cheap- I like Canson Montval for most Kara pages, but will burn through cotton rag for unbox and swatches and field tests.  I also like mixed media paper, particularly if I'm using alcohol markers with my watercolors, and I really enjoy using it for inking.  Up until this test, I'd never afforded myself the opportunity to try illustration board.

Illustration board is a heavyweight art board and is often comprised of two elements, usually a drawing, mixed media, or watercolor paper attached to a thicker board, sometimes chipboard.  Its intended to be structurally sound enough to not require stretching or futher support.  Strathmore Illustration board comes in several different types, all within their 500 series range- Lightweight Vellum, Heavyweight Vellum, Heavyweight plate, and Heavy Weight Vellum (for wet media).  All of their illustration boards use cotton fiber mounted to archival boards in varying thicknesses.

While I generally love Strathmore papers (particularly their bristol boards and their toned papers, but I also really enjoy their mixed media Visual Journals and mixed media papers), I avoid using it for layered, detailed watercolor art.

This piece originally started as a much larger sheet of Strathmore Illustration board, which the kind folks at Jerry's Artarama here in Nashville cut down for me.  I went for 12"x9" as the main cut, as that and 8"x10" are the sizes I use most frequently.  I honestly can't remember which type of illustration board I went for- I assume I weight for heavyweight vellum for dry media, as the texture on this paper isn't really suitable for watercolor.

Originally, I was going to treat this as mixed media- Copic markers and watercolor, but I wanted to do something with soft blends for the clover.  I may do another piece using alcohol markers to see how well they handle on this paper.

If you like soft blends and transitions, Strathmore Dry Media illustration boards are not for you.  As you can see from the 'gradient' in the sky- I had difficulty getting smooth transitions between shades and colors.  I didn't really struggle much with this paper, beyond the inability to blend out as desired.  It accepted the watercolor decently well, I had no issues with buckling, and the paper itself did not pill.  Colors went down bright and saturated and it was easy to ink on.

Looking for something that accepts watercolor?  Awhile back, I reviewed Canson's Montval Artboard!  Possible follo


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