15 Best Watercolor Paper In 2022: Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Watercolor Paper To Make The Right Choice

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Choosing the best watercolor paper is crucial for any artist or designer. This article will give you insight into choosing the right paper for your project and consider selecting the best watercolor paper based on your needs, preferences, and budget.

Our Top Picks

Canson 7022446 XL Watercolor Paper
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Best Overall - Canson 7022446 XL Watercolor Paper

• Cold-press, acid-free paper
• Works for mixed media art
• Absorbent and affordable

Bee Paper Watercolor Paper
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Best Large Format Paper - Bee Paper Watercolor Paper

• Professional-grade, archival-quality paper
Large-format paper
Maximum wet strength

Best Watercolor Block - Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Block

Acid-free, cotton paper
Excellent absorbency
Bright white paper

1. Canson 7022446 XL Watercolor Paper - Best Overall

Canson 7022446 XL Watercolor Paper
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 Pros Cons
  • Cold-press texture
  • Acid-free
  • Works for mixed media art
  • Generous size
  • Affordable pad
  • Not strong enough for the wet-on-wet technique
  • Not for professionals

What Customers Have to Say

Many painters (and even crafters) swear by Canson 7022446 XL Watercolor Paper. One crafter tried cutting it using Cricut for her Christmas decors, then painted it with watercolors, and they still stood well. It is also very absorbent and is surprisingly good for its price.

Canson 7022446 XL Watercolor Paper

Why We Think It's Great

Canson XL Watercolor Paper is the perfect choice for your next painting. It's made from 100% cotton fiber and has a cold press texture that stands up to multiple layers and washes. The durable surface also allows you to create beautiful, vibrant paintings with ease without fear of disintegrating the paper.

The 30-sheet glue-bound watercolor pad uses acid-free and archival-quality paper, so you don't have to worry about discoloration and yellowing. Each sheet measures 11 x 15 inches and weighs 140lb (300gsm), perfect for your medium-sized paintings.

Backed with more than 450 years of heritage and tradition blended with expertise so you can be sure that every sheet of Canson is a product of utmost care for your satisfaction.

Who Should Buy It

This watercolor pad is a student-grade watercolor paper. It is the perfect size for creating medium-sized paintings, which you can easily frame or display in a portfolio.

2. Bee Paper Watercolor Paper - Best Large Format Paper

Bee Paper Watercolor Paper
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 Pros Cons
  • Archival-quality
  • Large-format paper
  • Cold-press watercolor paper
  • Maximum wet strength
  • Professional-grade
  • Rough finish
  • Gets clotted on some areas

What Customers Have to Say

According to one satisfied customer, it is beautiful, thick paper that is very affordable for beginners. It doesn't curl and absorbs water well. It also works best for mixed media art.

Bee Paper Watercolor Paper

Why We Think It's Great

Bee Paper makes cold-pressed watercolor paper from the highest quality materials. It's archival-quality, so it will last longer and have maximum wet strength, so you don't have to worry about issues like buckling, curling, warping, or pilling.

You can use any type of paint on this paper or use mixed media on it. This professional-grade paper is also great for artists at all levels of experience! It is also very affordable, considering its size and thickness.

Who Should Buy It

This large-format watercolor paper is best for a seasoned watercolor artist who wants to make larger watercolor paintings.

3. Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Block - Best Watercolor Block

Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Block
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 Pros Cons
  • Hand-crafted, artisan paper
  • Cold-pressed
  • Acid-free, cotton paper
  • Excellent absorbency
  • Bright white paper
  • Very strong glue
  • Does not respond well to masking

What Customers Have to Say

The Stonehenge Aqua watercolor block is thick, but the glue is very strong, so you need a palette knife or any flat and rigid tool to remove it from its binding, as per a recent purchaser. The paper is bright white, so the colors pop out nicely.

Why We Think It's Great

Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Block is hand-crafted, artisan paper that's cold-pressed and acid-free. It has excellent absorbency and bright white color, so your painting doesn't look dull. You can use it with any medium to create beautiful pieces of art.

With this high-quality product, your paintings will look like they were done by a professional. The 10x14-inch block works well for the wet-on-wet technique, though it does not respond well to masking. We don't recommend it for negative watercolor paintings as they heavily rely on masking. Be sure to arm yourself with a quality watercolor palette to mix your colors. 

Who Should Buy It

The Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Block is the perfect choice if you want to start painting with watercolors or if you're already an experienced artist who wants to try something new.

4. Strathmore 140-305 Watercolor Paper

Strathmore 140-305 Watercolor Paper
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 Pros Cons
  • Fits 5x7" frames
  • Improved absorbency
  • Archival, acid-free paper
  • 100% cotton
  • Hot-press paper
  • Not cut to right angles
  • Warps a lot


What Customers Have to Say

Strathmore 140-305 Watercolor Paper is excellent watercolor paper for practice paintings. It is very convenient and works best for traveling artists.

Strathmore 140-305 Watercolor Paper

Why We Think It's Great

Strathmore 140-305 is an acid-free, 100% cotton hot-pressed watercolor paper that fits 5x7" frames. The improved absorbency makes it an excellent choice for watercolors and gouache. It's available in pads of 25-sheet packs, so you can get just what you need without having too much leftover. 

Because it's a Strathmore product, you know your work will turn out beautifully every time. With its smooth surface and excellent color retention capabilities, there are endless possibilities for creating beautiful works of art on this premium paper.

Who Should Buy It

The Strathmore 500 series watercolor paper is best for professional artists.

5. Arches Watercolor Block

Arches Watercolor Block
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 Pros Cons
  • Natural cotton paper
  • Natural white
  • Acid-free, cold-press paper
  • Versatile
  • Block of 20 sheets
  • Bonding is difficult to remove
  • Expensive

What Customers Have to Say

Though it is more expensive than other watercolor paper brands, you don't have to spend time taping it and then removing the tapes later, which can sometimes damage your paper.

Why We Think It's Great

Arches Watercolor Paper is a versatile, cold-press paper ideal for watercolors. It has a natural white color and is acid-free, so you can feel confident knowing it will last forever. This block of 20 sheets comes in an easy-to-store size and won't take up too much space on your desk or shelf.

You can use this paper with any medium you like, including markers, pencils, crayons, pastels – even charcoal for your impressionistic, realistic, and abstract watercolor paintings! The possibilities are endless when creating art with Arches Watercolor Block.

If you want an affordable option that will give you beautiful results every time, then look no further than Arches. This versatile paper is perfect for beginners or professionals who want to create stunning works of art with ease.

Who Should Buy It

The Arches watercolor block is best for artists who prefer not to use tape or stretch their watercolor paper.

6. Bellofy Watercolor Paper Pad

Bellofy Watercolor Paper Pad
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 Pros Cons
  • 130lb (190gsm) cold-pressed paper
  • Acid-free
  • Recyclable
  • Easy to detach glue binding
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Not purely white; gray to light purple
  • Thin


What Customers Have to Say

The Bellofy watercolor paper is excellent for painting and for making cards. It has fewer blooms and is better than most watercolor paper.

Bellofy Watercolor Paper Pad

Why We Think It's Great

Bellofy watercolor paper comes from 100% recycled material, so it's eco-friendly and sustainable. It's also acid-free, recyclable, and cold-pressed for a texture that allows your paints to soak in without bleeding or warping.

It comes with 50 sheets per pad – enough for plenty of paintings and other mediums – pencil, pen, marker, pastel. Since they are easy to detach from their binding glue, they also qualify as the best gifts for watercolor artists.

Who Should Buy It

The Bellofy watercolor paper is best for practice works for hobby artists.

7. Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad

Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad
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 Pros Cons
  • Cold-press watercolor paper
  • Side wire-bound
  • Micro-perforated, true size sheets
  • 140lb (300gsm)
  • High absorbency and durable
  • Not best for the wet-on-wet technique
  • May leave a blotchy finish on paper

What Customers Have to Say

Many artists love it for its size and versatile compatibility for watercolor, pencil, ink, markers, etc. It does not bleed through so many users have painted on both sides without realizing it.

Canson Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad

Why We Think It's Great

The CANSON Artist Series Montval Watercolor Paper Pad is an excellent watercolor paper at 140lb (300gsm) and easy to organize with its side wire binding. It's also micro-perforated so that you can tear it out into true-size sheets. Meaning, no more cutting or trimming your paper to fit in your sketchbook. 

It also includes 25 sheets per pad, which should provide for all of your tasks. It's thick but not rigid, making it ideal for mixed media paintings. This watercolor paper offers fantastic value for money.

Who Should Buy It

This set is a good practice paper for students and hobby artists, though it's not the best watercolor paper you can get for its price.

8. Arteza Watercolor Pad

Arteza Watercolor Pad
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 Pros Cons
  • Convenient for travels
  • Acid-free, premium paper
  • Cold-press paper
  • Slightly textured
  • Affordable
  • Not very absorbent of pigments
  • Not white

What Customers Have to Say

This watercolor journal is an excellent product for making art. It is very portable for watercolor and sketching. Many crafters use it for making cards, as the size is very convenient for card-making.

Arteza Watercolor Pad

Why We Think It's Great

Arteza Watercolor Pad is the perfect paper for watercolors. It comes from cold-press, high-quality paper that will give your paintings the vibrant colors and smooth texture you want. The pack comes in sets of 3 spiral-bound watercolor paper sizes 5 1/2 x 8 1/2". 

The paper is thick and durable, so it can handle repeated watercolor washes without buckling or warping. The micro-perforated sheets are true to size, so they tear out easily without any hassle. This pad comes with 140lb (300gsm) paper absorbing paint well and holding up after it dries.

Who Should Buy It

The Arteza Watercolor Pad is an excellent watercolor journal for traveling artists.

9. UCreate Watercolor Paper

UCreate Watercolor Paper
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 Pros Cons
  • 140lb watercolor paper
  • Loose pages
  • Dry, wet, and mixed media technique
  • Acid-free
  • Recyclable
  • Too stiff
  • Cream-colored

What Customers Have to Say

Many parents appreciate this watercolor paper for their children who love art. Others think it is also a great buy since it is very thick and sturdy and absorbs water well.

Why We Think It's Great

UCreate Watercolor Paper is the perfect paper for artists exploring their creativity. It's 100% recycled, so it's eco-friendly and sustainable. Plus, it has a smooth texture that makes your art look great!

You can use this paper with wet or dry media like paint markers and ink pens. Since it's acid-free, your work will last forever without yellowing over time. This package comes with 20 sheets of 140lb watercolor paper in loose-leaf form, so you can easily store them on a shelf or take them with you wherever you go.

Each pack has 50 sheets, sized at 9x12 inches.

Who Should Buy It

We recommend this watercolor paper for art students and beginner artists as it is very convenient to use. 

10. Strathmore 460-55 Visual Watercolor Journal

Strathmore 460-55 Visual Watercolor Journal
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 Pros Cons
  • Heavy-weight cold-press paper
  • Versatile use
  • Journal size
  • Acid-free
  • Affordable
  • Warps easily
  • Pills easily


What Customers Have to Say

The watercolor journal is good quality and handy, making it easy to pack while traveling. The laminated cardboard cover is also very sturdy and protects your paper inside, said one recent buyer.

Strathmore 460-55 Visual Watercolor Journal

Why We Think It's Great

The Strathmore 460-55 Visual Watercolor Journal is an excellent choice. Its heavy-weight paper makes it perfect for watercolor and collage. The 22-sheet wire-bound watercolor paper is just the right size for journal use at 5 1/2 x 8 inches.

The wire is heavy-duty, so your visual journal keeps its shape, and underneath the paper flysheet lies a beautiful but gender-neutral textured cover. The sheets are acid-free, and you can use both sides without any issue with the finish. You can also use this journal with acrylic, pen and ink, pencil, and marker. This watercolor paper is a fantastic product at a great price!

It is an intermediate-grade watercolor paper with a solid surface to withstand several washes, lifting, and scraping. To limit warping and pilling, always tape your paper and control the amount of water added to the paper.

Who Should Buy It

Strathmore paper watercolor journal is best for aspiring artists who wants to practice work and do a wet-on-dry painting.

Who Should Buy It

The Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Block is the perfect choice if you want to start painting with watercolors or if you're already an experienced artist who wants to try something new.

11. Arteza Watercolor Foldable Canvas Pad

Arteza Watercolor Foldable Canvas Pad
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 Pros Cons
  • Heavy-weight paper
  • Easy to display
  • Comes in pads of 10 sheets
  • Versatile use
  • Bleed-resistant and acid-free
  • Looks and feels like cardstock
  • Folding is tricky

What Customers Have to Say

Many artists agree that the Arteza watercolor foldable canvas is inexpensive and clever to display their finished work. It's a great value for their money, very convenient to use, and weighs nice. Other artists suggested bigger sizes, though.

Why We Think It's Great

Arteza Watercolor Foldable Canvas Pads are the perfect addition to your art supplies. It is made from 100% cotton pulp and is easy to assemble for DIY frames so you can display your art where it suits you. This versatile heavy-weight paper (140 lb/300gsm) is easy to display and comes in pads of 10 sheets. These pads are also bleed-resistant and acid-free. 

You can use them on any surface without worrying about ruining it or having colors run everywhere. These pads come at an affordable price point and will be sure to last you a long time because of their quality materials.

Who Should Buy It

Artists who love displaying their works will love these watercolor canvas pads. You may also cut the excess portions to frame them if you like.

12. Paul Rubens Watercolor Block

Paul Rubens Watercolor Block
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 Pros Cons
  • 50% cotton rag
  • Acid-free paper
  • Fits A5 frames
  • Watercolors and other wet painting mediums
  • Responsive customer service
  • Hard to remove from the paper block
  • Not very absorbent

What Customers Have to Say

Many artists love working with this paper block. It has a heavy texture and is of good quality.

Paul Rubens Watercolor Block

Why We Think It's Great

Paul Rubens Watercolor Block is made from 50% cotton rag and has an acid-free base. This paper fits A5 frames, which are popular with many artists. The paper is also great for wet painting mediums like watercolors or gouache paints.

The paper block has glue on 4 sides, so you don't have to tape the paper to a wooden board. Once the painting is dry, you can remove it using a blunt knife or an old credit card from the block. Paul Rubens also has very responsive customer service to address your concerns and keep you satisfied with their products.

Who Should Buy It

The Paul Rubens Watercolor Block is the perfect travel buddy because you don't need to tape your paper during the painting process.

13. Strathmore 440 Watercolor Pad

Strathmore 440 Watercolor Pad
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 Pros Cons
  • Strong surface
  • Natural white paper
  • Cold-press paper
  • High absorbency
  • Acid-free, wood pulp paper
  • Does not have much texture
  • Too thick and stiff

What Customers Have to Say

It works for both traditional watercolor and watercolor pencils. Others love using it for their illustrated diary. Great for beginners, too, many observed.

Why We Think It's Great

Strathmore is the world's leading manufacturer of artist papers. They are committed to providing artists with the finest quality materials and tools at an affordable price. The 440 Series Watercolor Pad features a strong surface, natural white watercolor paper with high absorbency, acid-free wood pulp paper, and top spring binding. 

It's perfect for watercolors or any other medium that requires a smooth surface. Each pack has 12 sheets of 9x12-inch premium heavy-weight paper and uses 100% cotton fiber that will last through years without warping or buckling.

Who Should Buy It

This watercolor paper is best for beginners and intermediate watercolor artists. While it has good qualities, many professional artists shy away from this paper.

14. Fluid 100 Watercolor Paper

Fluid 100 Watercolor Paper
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 Pros Cons
  • 100% cotton pulp
  • Archival-quality
  • Acid-free paper
  • Easy block binding
  • Cold-press paper
  • Does not respond well to masking
  • Too stiff for a 300gsm paper

What Customers Have to Say

Artists who have used it love the thick paper. It is very absorbent and doesn't buckle or warp after applying watercolors, either wet on dry or wet on wet technique.

Fluid 100 Watercolor Paper

Why We Think It's Great

Fluid 100 Watercolor Paper is a high-quality, acid-free watercolor paper that's great for painting. It comes in 9x12 inches and 10 sheets per block. You can use it with any medium, from pencils to acrylic paints.

The cold press surface provides a smooth texture for your work, while the block binding allows you to tear off individual pieces of paper as needed.

With its high-quality construction and affordability, Fluid 100 Watercolor Paper is perfect for anyone who loves painting or drawing with watercolors. It is also very affordable, making it a great option for student artists. 

Who Should Buy It

This product is the best paper for anyone looking to create easy watercolor paintings or drawings with ease. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, this paper will give you the best results possible.

15. Bellofy Painting Paper Pad

Bellofy Painting Paper Pad
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 Pros Cons
  • Does not bleed
  • Cold-pressed paper
  • Works for all wet painting mediums
  • 246lb (400gsm) paper
  • Responsive customer service
  • Looks like cardstock
  • Poor paper quality

What Customers Have to Say

The paper is super thick and is very absorbent. It has excellent weight for watercolors and mixed media paintings. The artists who have tried this watercolor paper recommend it for beginners who want to make easy watercolor painting ideas

Why We Think It's Great

Bellofy paper is cold-pressed and doesn't bleed when using wet mediums like watercolors, oil, acrylics. It also works for other art forms like pen and ink, pencil drawings, and gouache. You get 9x12 inches with 25 sheets per pad – perfect for any size project. It is also absorbent enough to take on the wet-on-wet watercolor technique. 

Plus, it uses eco-friendly paper that doesn't leave you guilty of using too much paper for your paintings. It is thick (246lb/400gsm), best for advanced and professional artists. It is also acid-free and doesn't cause your colors to smudge, fade, or discolor with time. You can also expect responsive customer service from Bellofy to help you find what you need.

Who Should Buy It

This painting pad is best for artists who work with different painting mediums. It is also the thickest in this collection; thus, you can use it for watercolor pencils.

Watercolor Paper Buying Guide

Paper Type

Hot-pressed watercolor paper is much smoother to the touch, making it suitable for detailed work. However, this type of paper cannot hold as much paint and will warp when wet, especially after adding a watercolor wash. It makes sense as hot-pressed paper uses hot plates (like a flat iron) to press the pulp into paper. 

Cold-pressed watercolor paper is the most popular type for beginner and professional artists. We recommend stretching the cold-pressed paper before use to not curl up during the painting and drying process.

Rough watercolor paper never went through the pressing process and is preferred by artists for its textured surface. It is rougher than cold-pressed watercolor paper, with distinctive features throughout to add an interesting edge feel to your work.

Scale

Watercolor paper comes in different sizes - from postcard size to large-format papers. If you plan to travel a lot, a smaller size is better. Other artists recommend journal size watercolor pads.

Weight

Watercolor paper is available in many different weights, but it's important to know what weight is best for the painting you want. You have to understand what you're getting into, especially if you're not familiar with the unit used for indicating the weight of paper. 

Some brands list weight in GSM (grams per square meter), while others use pounds per ream (lb). Understandably, the smaller numbers denote lighter paper and lower prices. However, newbies should stay within the 140lb (300gsm) paper. This weight should have enough strength to withstand the amount of water you add to it but still be affordable enough.

Composition

The watercolor paper from wood pulp is of lower quality, according to professional artists. Lignin, the acid present in wood, causes the wood pulp paper to discolor after a while. However, some manufacturers remove the lignin, so always check product specifications before buying.

This surface type is best for practice as it can cause bleeding and blending mistakes and is not as absorbent as other paper types. Cellulose paper is a great option for those who want to work on cheaper, lighter-weight watercolor papers. Students or intermediates find these papers most suitable for practice.

Watercolor paper made from cotton is the standard among professional watercolorists. Cotton fibers can absorb more pigment than most other papers, so it's perfect for those who want their colors vibrant and deep with lots of depth.

Paper Form

You can buy watercolor paper in packs of loose sheets, pads, blocks, and rolls. When purchasing a watercolor pad of paper, it's essential to make sure that you aren't buying any sheets with glued sides since glue can contain chemicals and degrade the quality over time.

Some artists like to work on loose sheets of paper because they can be mounted, stretched, or cut. However, you might have trouble storing these types if your workspace space is limited since it's not for long-term storage - but there are alternatives!

A block is the most versatile paper type. Blocks are glued on three of the four edges and prevent warping, so your artwork will always stay in place! You can simply remove the finished artwork from the block then display it as you prefer.

When it comes to painting, more surface means better control. Using a watercolor paper roll will provide an artist with greater value and quality as they paint the canvas size by their preference. This feature is convenient but also strikes that perfect balance between both features.

Number of Sheets

Some watercolor paper brands offer more pads than others, with some containing as many as 300 sheets. Generally, more sheets in one pad or block mean cheaper paper per sheet.

Budget

The price of watercolor paper is dependent on the type you're looking for. Professional artists' grade papers cost more, while student quality options start at a lower price.

Watercolor Paper FAQ

1. Is hot press or cold press watercolor paper better?

It depends on your purpose. Hot-pressed paper is best for professionals looking for a fine finish as the texture is finer. It is not as absorbent as cold-pressed paper, so we recommend it for advanced and professional artists.

For newbies and intermediate artists, though, we recommend cold-pressed watercolor paper as it is more resilient, more durable, and the tooth is enough to keep the finish textured.

2. What is the best weight for watercolor paper?

Watercolor painting on 140 lb (300gsm) watercolor paper is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. It is affordable but durable and absorbent to do your artwork without issue. It is best for hobby artists looking for cheap but high-quality watercolor art supplies and for professionals looking to perfect a particular design.

3. What can I use instead of watercolor paper?

While you can do watercolor on cardstock and other thick paper, it does not have the same features as watercolor paper. You can mostly do small color-in on cardstock, not an entire watercolor painting.

Watercolor paper has features that regular paper or even cardstock doesn't have. Watercolor paper is very absorbent, resulting in an even finish. It doesn't buckle and look wrinkled when the paint dries. 

The watercolor paper doesn't pill, like ordinary paper. Pilling results in balls of fiber on the paper surface, resulting in a bumpy paper surface that's impossible to use for watercolor painting. Lastly, watercolor papers undergo treatment to prevent discoloration and become brittle, so you don't lose your precious artwork.

4. Should I stretch 140lb watercolor paper?

Stretching watercolor paper helps to prevent it from buckling. Since heavier paper is less prone to buckling, it doesn't need stretching. Lighter paper, like 90lb and 140lb, needs stretching. To stretch watercolor paper, you need a sturdy piece of wood that won't warp, so it supports your paper well.

Lay your paper on the board, then wet it using a large watercolor brush. You can also use a mister if you want. Turn the paper over, then leave it for 15 minutes before adding 2 layers of paper towel on top to soak up the excess water. Remove the paper towel and use the still-damp watercolor paper for your painting.

If you want to use the watercolor paper later, leave it on the board. Wet a piece of tape and tape along the four sides of the paper to keep it flat. Dry overnight. To use stretched paper for painting, do not remove the tape until the painting is dry. Therefore, it is best to use a portable board.

Conclusion

Watercolorists love to display their artwork, and what better way to showcase them for a long time is by using the right supplies and tools? For the best overall, we recommend the Canson 7022446 XL Watercolor Paper because it works on various painting mediums, is very absorbent, and is affordable even for student artists. It is also acid-free and slightly textured.

For painters looking for a large-format paper, use the Bee Paper Watercolor Paper. It is a professional-grade, archival-quality paper with maximum wet strength, so it doesn't buckle, warp, or curl after painting. Lastly, Stonehenge Aqua Watercolor Block is one of the best for watercolor blocks. 

Understanding your medium is easier if you also understand its origins. Visit our article on the history of watercolors to learn more. If you're a beginner, you might want to try these online art classes to learn more about watercolors.

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