What I will discuss in these notes, however, are notes on how the paper feels and behaves under the attack of this artist. I say "attack" because often times we artists tend to abuse materials in many ways. As an experimental printmaker and lover of papers, I am guilty of paper use and abuse.
How to Get to Know Paper
Here is what I do to get to know my papers:
Buy paper samplers! For one thing they are so cute, little tiny squares of paper in a neat little book...
For another thing, no matter how much you look at a picture of a paper in a catalog or in the web, you cannot get to know a paper until you...
See the paper. Hold it up to the light, all kinds of light, natural, fluorescent, incandescent; heck take your papers out to the campfire on a still desert night and look at them there. Turn them over and do it again. Notice the fibers, the weave, the patterns of the molds, the hills and valleys, the watermarks, the little chunks of inserted material.
If you can afford it, of course, buy full sheets of paper and actually TRY the paper in your daily business of drawing or printmaking. Learn from the book sources above, all about sizing and uses for papers. Purchase the large (full-sheet) paper samplers, or buy one sheet every week and by the end of the year you will have tried 52 different kinds of paper. Start out by purchasing the papers made for whatever medium you happen to be "arting" in, then move on to...
Experiment! (my favorite word). Learn all the rules first, then break them. Print on pastel paper, draw on watercolor paper, paint on printmaking paper, wet the paper, use it dry, paste it to cloth, prime it with gesso... This is how you get to really know paper, because you will learn how paper "behaves" under different whimsical treatments.
It is this paper "behavior" that I am looking for when I use a paper. I can look up the sizing and recommended uses and light-fastness and weight information in a chart. I can make sure (please make sure) that the paper is actually acid-free and will hold my art dearly for centuries to come. I can listen to recommendations from others, I can look up the most suitable paper for a particular use.
Next blog post I will post about various papers I have tried and how they behaved for me. In the meantime, here are a selected few selected sources and suppliers.
Few Selected Paper Sources and Resources
Sylvie Turner's The Book of Fine Paper is an incredible resource for papermaking, history of paper, types of paper, and it even comes with a mini-sampler of fine papers from around the world. I highly recommend it if it's the only reference book on paper in your personal library.
The Book of Fine Paper: A Worldwide Guide to Contemporary Papers for Art, Design & Decoration
If you must have two books, the next that I recommend is the classic Jules Heller book Papermaking:
Papermaking: How to Make Handmade Paper for Printmaking, Drawing, Painting, Relief and Cast Forms, Book Arts, and Mixed Media