I’ve been trying to paint more often with watercolour, but sometimes I just get intimidated by large sheets of watercolour paper and the thought of making mistakes on them and ruining them. For that reason, I often pick up smaller sized pads and blocks of watercolour paper when I can, and one of these – which I dug out of my drawer today – was the Fabriano watercolour postcard pad.
These postcard books are about $14 for 20 sheets of 10.5xm X 14.8cm 300gsm cold press paper. This is their Studio line of paper; I haven’t tried their Artistico range, which is more expensive. Each sheet has some lines printed on the back and a square to put a stamp if you want to send it off to someone like a real postcard; I’d be reluctant to do this if I’d used watercolour since if a postal worker left it out in the rain while delivering it, the artwork would be ruined.
I am a little fussy with cold press watercolour papers as sometimes I find that the texture of the paper is too uniform (this is probably more due to personal preference than to any objective quality of the paper, though). The texture isn’t as pronounced as some cold press papers I’ve used but at least the texture manages to look organic, and there’s enough of it there to ensure that if you use granulating watercolours, those colours will behave as they should (as you can see in my sample sketch, where I used Cerulean Blue in the sky). While it does have some texture, it’s also smooth enough that you can do accurate ink line work without much trouble. The paper stands up well enough to limited scrubbing and lifting techniques, but not as well as heavier paper. It also buckled quite severely, to the extent that it pulled itself free from the masking tape I’d used to preserve the borders and try to keep it flat. This is something most watercolourists are probably used to dealing with, but if you are going to take it with you on a sketching trip, I’d recommend taking a couple of small bulldog clips to hold the edges of the pages down.
Here’s a sketch I did of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, using the Fabriano postcards and Schmincke watercolours.
Fabriano watercolour postcards are a great option for those who want to do small format watercolour paintings or sketch on the go. Though it can’t cope with as much corrective work as the artist grade brands, it is still a sturdy watercolour that provides enough texture to give that lovely granulated colour look while also allowing detailed drawings. If you have a field sketching set, I’d recommend picking up one of these postcard blocks and adding it to your supplies.