Paper: St Cuthberts Mill Saunders Waterford Hi-White Cold Press Watercolour Blocks (review)

I regularly use Saunders Waterford rough press watercolour paper and have also done a brief review of all the papers in the St Cuthbert’s Mill watercolour paper samples pack. A few months ago, when I was buying some other products online from an art supply store in Sydney, I noticed they had a Parkers Special Edition block of the Hi-White paper, so I ordered one.

Though the block I got was apparently made specifically for Parkers, you can get Hi-White in ‘regular’ edition blocks, though they are harder to find; of the stores I regularly buy from that sell Saunders Waterford, only a couple have the Hi-White paper, and usually only in cold press, though there is a rough press version available. It also seems to be the same price as the regular white paper, at least on the sites I looked at.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of two of my Saunders Waterford watercolour blocks. On the left is their regular White paper (in rough press) and on the right is the cold press Hi-White paper.

As you can see, the Hi-White is noticeably a more pure white, as opposed to the slightly cream hue of the regular paper. Having a cream-hued paper isn’t necessarily a bad thing; depending on the piece, it can help add warmth to the piece, or at least prevent it from looking too stark. But sometimes when you want a true white highlight or to enhance the translucence of watercolour, a proper white surface is required.

If you’ve used St Cuthbert’s Mill’s regular white Saunders Waterford paper in the cold press, it’s exactly the same texture (I don’t have a sheet to compare it to but I did compare them in the shop). It also performs quite well, standing up to multiple layers of watercolour and even some lifting, though I find it’s not quite as sturdy as the rough press paper. I liked how it made my darks seem darker while also allowing the highlights I wanted to appear as pure white.

This is a hummingbird I painted on the Saunders Waterford Hi-White paper (you can see a step-by-step demonstration of this painting here).

As I’ve come to expect from St Cuthbert’s Mill, the Saunders Waterford Hi-White paper is a sturdy, good quality watercolour paper. It can be hard to find, but if you want a true-white surface instead of the off-white hue of most other watercolours, it’s worth searching for.

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