Review: Clairefontaine Watercolour Book

Clairefontaine Watercolour Book**

Clairefontaine watercolor books remind me of Arches Carnet de Voyage Travel Book, sturdy, 300 g/ acid free cold press paper, with what appears to exhibit a high concentration of surface sizing. The Clairefontaine 20 sheet books come in both side wire bound and top wire bound with a rigid backboard and an assortment of decorated see-through covers. (** You can see some of my colour tests showing through (above) on the first sheet of the book.)

My favourite cup July 2009 ©
Clairfontaine Watercolour Book
Assorted Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton watercolours

Clairefontaine Watercolour Book

I believe they come in 3 or more sizes, and I am experimenting with the top bound 8" x 8" version.
Arches Carnet de Voyage

The Arches which I referred to above is also 300 g/m, 140lbs, but 6" x 10" (15x25 cm) and has 15 sheets, 5 less than the Clairfontaine. However, it not the size but rather the consistency and feel of the paper that aroused my curiosity and had me comparing the two.

Onion, A Light Red Study, August 2004 ©
Arches Carnet de Voyage Watercolour Book
Winsor & Newton watercolours

Many artists favour Arches and rank it the best. For those artists the Clairefontaine should be an excellent choice both for its finish and pricing.

However, preferences among water colour artists, or dabblers like myself, vary greatly. With three primary choices: hot press, cold press and rough, various weights and more than a dozen manufacturers, we are fortunate to be able to pick and choose the paper that suits us best.

I am of the less sizing school and gravitate more to Saunders Waterford,
Lanaquarelle, Fabriano and occasionally Bockingford papers. While I generally buy cold press, I also like rough press and have just started to use hot press and stick almost exclusively to 300 g/m, 140 lbs.

I discovered my preferences quite a few years ago after a visit to New York Central's Paper Department where I was able to touch, feel, pet and then order samples of more than 20 different papers. As I bought 22" x 30" full sheets and several custom made blocks and books, I've had some of these well stored, and continue to enjoy a wide variety of good quality paper for various projects. New York Central has a paper only catalogue and paper can be ordered on line.

The last time I checked, the Arches Carnet de Voyage were on sale at Cheap Joes for just under $8.00.

The Clairefontaine watercolor books can be purchased at the Writers Bloc for $11.50, a more than decent price for a very good watercolour book. Also check Exaclair for other resources.

For more info on paper, you might enjoy Handprint's write-ups here.