Frequently Asked Questions

  • When choosing the weight of a fine art paper, what is more accurate, lb or gsm?

    There are two ways to measure a paper’s weight. The North American way is to weigh 500 sheets of a common size of paper (such as 8-1/2” x 11”) to come up with a lb measurement. This measurement isn’t consistent across different types of paper, however. GSM stands for Grams per Square Meter, a metric (or European) measurement that is a more consistent method for measuring different paper types. When using this method, one sheet of any paper, regardless of type, weighs one square meter. Therefore, if you’re comparing the weight of a watercolor paper to a drawing paper, look at the gsm and not the lb.

  • What are the most common types of art paper?

    Cotton papers, made from the longest cotton fibers, are generally considered the highest quality. Paper made from 100% cotton rag can handle heavy working and erasing without tearing or showing wear. High-quality 100% cotton paper can last more than 100 years. Those papers made from shorter, lesser-quality cotton fibers can become fuzzy with reworking. Cellulose papers are usually made from wood pulp and have a natural acid content that will destroy the paper over time. The more acidic a paper is, the shorter its life expectancy. Buffers are often added to make a cellulose-based paper pH neutral and extend its life.

  • What’s the difference between hot press and cold press watercolor paper? And what does it mean when a watercolor paper is sized?

    Hot press watercolor paper has a smooth surface, while cold press watercolor paper has a slightly raised, bumpy surface. Rough watercolor paper has a surface that has even more texture. A "not" watercolor sheet is “not hot press,” and the term is often used instead of cold press. The decision comes down to which surface you prefer for the type of watercolor painting you practice. Sizing is often added to make a watercolor paper more water-resistant, keep it from absorbing too much moisture or pigment, and maintain the brilliance of watercolor paints or inks. Internal sizing is added while the paper pulp is still in a liquid state, while external sizing is applied to the surface of the paper after the sheet is formed and dried. Some papers are both internally and surface-sized.

  • Is there such a thing as oil painting paper?

    Blick carries several types of paper for oil painting. These textured oil painting papers (available in pads, rolls, and individual sheets) have a coated surface that mimics canvas and also offers many of its working characteristics. Use this paper with oils, acrylics, and other wet media. You may also find oil painting paper more affordable and portable than a stretched canvas or painting panel.