Watercolour paper is a fantastic surface as it is possible to work on with a whole variety of mediums. It is available in a variety of weights. The most commonly available range from 140 lbs to 300 lbs. Also, this paper comes in a range of finishes from smooth to rough. If this isn’t all complicated enough, then there are many quality manufacturers of good quality papers.
I have found that artists have their ‘favourites’ and use different papers for different art projects.
Generally, the heavier the weight of the paper, the less likely it is to buckle (especially if you work with a lot of water).
As an artist, I mainly produce acrylic or mixed media paintings. Also, I often work with washes of colour in the initial stages. Due to this I need a surface that is robust and able to deal with a high degree of saturation. I have tried a variety of papers and would highly recommend Saunders Waterford. I use the 300 lbs weight and with a rough finish. This is a fantastic product. When doing mixed media work, you can achieve fantastic results when applying pastels or neocolour II over washes of acrylic. The rough texture creates peaks and grooves which can be used to enhance light and shade. Also, when doing mixed media painting, I regularly apply lots of collage. I have found that the Saunders Waterford 300 lbs rough is able to withstand lots of PVA glue and many layers of collage.
If you contact companies like St Cuthberts Mill: who produce Saunders Waterford and Bockingford (St Cuthberts Mill, Wells, Somerset BA5 1AG 01749 672015 www.inveresk.co.uk ) they may well be willing to send you some samples.
My top tip is to spend as much as you can on your watercolour paper – as the better the quality the better the results you will achieve.