You may have heard of watercolor boards before. No, not the wooden board you use under your watercolor paper. I’m talking about a watercolor board, which is really just a board glued to watercolor paper.
Canson makes the most available product, which I’ve seen at a few art stores. I’m sure there are others, but that’s the brand that’s most readily available in the States at least.
I haven’t bought one in a few years but the last time I bought one, they were $5.99 each and were 16″x20″ in dimensions.
Now, do I personally like them? To be honest, I used to love them. I haven’t painted on one in several years now and I’ll explain why.
Pros of a watercolor board
If you’re the type of watercolor artist who does insane washes, you might want to try painting on a watercolor board. It handles lots of water better than regular watercolor paper, whether single sheets or even in a watercolor block.
Buckling is one of those things that may drive you nuts. I used to paint with single sheets and stopped doing that because I was too lazy to tape the sheets down. So I switched to watercolor blocks.
Then in 2019, I experimented with watercolor boards. I got heavily into those that year, just because I hated dealing with buckling and I use a lot of water.
Watercolor boards seem to dry more quickly than regular watercolor paper.
I don’t use a hair dryer. I actually wait until the layer dries before I paint the next layer.
That’s another big advantage for me with watercolor boards. If you’re into painting lots of layers and you don’t use a hair dryer, watercolor boards may be a time saver for you.
No stretching necessary
This one really ties into the others. You don’t have to stretch your watercolor paper.
Chalk up another advantage to us lazier artists who just want to get straight to painting.
Cons of watercolor board
In 2019, I got heavily into watercolor boards. In 2020, I started painting more on either 18″x24″ blocks or single 22″x30″ sheets. By 2021, I forgot all about watercolor boards and I haven’t looked back.
To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t try them.
No, not at all.
It’s just what I wanted changed. What you want and what I want may be too different things, so maybe watercolor boards are for you. They’re just not for me anymore.
Harder to draw on
It’s not that watercolor boards are hard to draw on. No, they’re not. They’re just harder to draw on than regular watercolor paper or a watercolor block.
The watercolor boards I’ve found were all cold press. I paint on hot press. Stylistic difference.
Maybe hot press watercolor boards exist. However, my local art stores don’t sell them so if they exist, I haven’t seen them.
More prone to puddling
You have to be careful with puddling no matter what you’re painting on. However, watercolor boards puddle more easily than regular watercolor paper.
You’ll have to adjust your technique accordingly.
I can buy a block of real good archival 18″x24″ watercolor paper for around $100 for 20 sheets. A single 16″x20″ watercolor board ran for $5.99 back in 2019. I have no idea what it costs today, but I’m assuming it’s even more.
If you’re painting constantly, then this could be an issue.
If money isn’t an issue for you, then this should be a non-issue.
Watercolor boards are something you should at least try. Maybe you’ll love them. Maybe you’ll hate them.
As I mentioned, I used to love them. My style changed and with my stylistic change, I stopped buying them.
Back when I painted on them, I got some pretty good results.