Saunders Watercolor Paper Review

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Saunders Watercolor Paper

I'm always interested in finding good papers for illustration.  A great watercolor paper really makes painting a delight, and I like having options beyond Arches.  My search for great watercolor papers has introduced me to a lot of favorites- Canson's Moulin du Roy, Blick's Premier Watercolor paper, Stonehenge Aqua, and Saunder's.

In the past, I've taken a look at Saunder's Bockingford watercolor paper, a higher end cellulose paper.  While I enjoyed painting on it, I didn't enjoy it more than painting on cheaper cottonrag papers like Fluid 100, and it was a bit too pricey to replace my favorite cellulose papers for watercolor sketches.  

The parent company, St Cuthbert's Mill, is an English paper mill that produces watercolor paper, printmaking paper, and papers for digital art printing.  My friends in the UK may be able to find St Cuthbert's Mill products at a more reasonable price- imported art supplies always tend to be pricy in the US.  Availability is a bit iffy- you wont find St Cuthbert's Mill products at say Michaels, and you probably won't find them at many dedicated art supply stores either- checking the website, their international stockist are 'under' and 'maintenance' 

St Cuthbert's Mill claims that Saunder's is a superior quality watercolor paper, and boasts the Royal Watercolour Society's endorsement.  This cottonrag paper is available in Hot Press, Cold Press, and Rough press, and has been buffered with calcium carbonate to help prevent discoloration.  Saunders is available in White and High White, and is suitable for use with watercolor, gouache, acrylic, pastel, pen and ink, pencil, charcoal, and printmaking. (Source)

Sizes included sheets (22"x30", 40"x60"), rolls (60"x33), and blocks (10"x7, 12"x9", 14"x10", 16"x12", 20"x14"), but you're most likely to find it in sheets and smaller blocks here in the US (Source

This paper is mould made, and has been buffered to a pH of 7-9, with internal and external sizing (external is gelatine).  The blocks are similar to Arches and Blick Premier- glued on four sides, and you may need a knife to remove sheets (Source


Watercolor illustration on Saunder's watercolor paper
Watercolor illustration created on Saunder's 140lb Coldpress watercolor paper

Readers know my art is more illustration and comics, and my needs are different from many other watercolor artists.  I feel the video below does an excellent job getting into the nitty gritty of painting on this paper, so I highly recommend you watch it if you're looking for a deeper review! 

Saunders Watercolor Paper- 9"x12" block bound pad
Originally purchased at David's Art Center in Metairie, Louisiana 

9"x12 (Prices reflect time of writing)

$40.77 on Blick
Sheets on Blick

Compared to Arches

$35.22 on Blick

Saunders Vs Arches Coldpress- both papers stretched

 Saunders$40.77 Thicker More like cardboard 
 Arches$35.22  ThinnerA bit more like painting on fabric 


 

Pros:
A sturdy, heavier 140lb watercolor paper
Can really stand up to a lot of washes, a lot of water
Handles multiple layers of watercolor well
Colors are vibrant and clean
Excellent for wet into wet techniques

Cons:
Kinda pricey compared to Arches or Stonehenge
Limited availability- may be difficult to find

Thoughts:

In order to print bluelines onto this paper, paper had to be removed from block
Ran through printer with no issues or misprinting
Ink dissolved cleanly from paper- not really visible during painting

I really enjoyed painting on this paper- it's a bit like painting on cardboard, but in a really positive way.  Once this paper has been stretched, it's not liable to buckle or cockle, and it dries taut and flat.  It can take A LOT of layers, as well as fairly fine detail.

Verdict:

While I really enjoyed painting on Saunder's, due to the price and some difficulty finding it in local stores (neither Jerry's nor Plaza carry it), I probably will not purchase it again.  I find it similar to Cheap Joe's Kilimanjaro, which I also enjoy using, and will probably purchase more Kilimanjaro before I buy another block of Saunders.  Saunders is available in sheets (which I never get around to cutting down), but not available in pads, which makes it inconvenient for running through a printer to print bluelines.

Some watercolorist have very different experiences from my own, so I recommend you check out some of the second opinions below!

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