We have a very wide range of papers on the market. Everyone will finally find their favorite. There is no one paper that would please everybody and it’s worth testing different types to see which one works for us. In this post I will share with you my thoughts on Arches HP.

About Arches

Arches is one of the most popular paper among watercolorists. A lot of artists use Arches Cold Press. This paper has its devoted fans, but also many opponents, which is normal, because everyone has their own preferences.

Arches HP is a smooth paper. The HP abbreviation tells us about it – Hot Press. Hot pressed papers are smooth, so they allow you to achieve fine details in your paintings. That is why HP papers are used by botanical artists, for whom precision and detail play a key role.

For the test I used a block with spiral binding, size 9 in x 12 in (23 x 31 cm), 300 gsm, 100% cotton.


I decided to paint a red carnation. Before I started painting, I did some color tests. I noticed that the paint does not cover the area evenly. The paint looked as if it had been chalked. This probably can not be seen in the pictures, but this is Arches:

and this is Fabriano Artistico:

On Fabriano, the colors appear to be stronger and the paint covers the paper more evenly. It made me sad, because I remember a similar situation with the Winsor&Newton CP paper.

I made additional tests and it turned out that if I first add more water, the layer of pain looks very good and covers the paper evenly. It looks like Arches likes water.

Arches is also very smooth, much smoother than Saunders Waterford HP. The only thing I could complain about is the creamy color. Fabriano Artistico Extra White is really white compared to Arches.

Mr Witold Holan, the director of the Canson brand in Poland, was kind to exaplain why the colors of Arches is as it is. He said:

… it is the result of not using any whiteners in the process of making the Arches and the fact that this paper undergoes a deep gelatinization process. This is made to increase the durability of the paper which is so important for the survival of the artist’s work.

I understand and it convinces me. In fact, after finishing my test, it turned out that the color does not bother me so much. Actually, it depends on how you look at it, but it also adds charm to the painting. Anyway, the color of the paper itself is not as important as the color of what has been painted on it and the final result.


I have to admit, after all, that I really like Arches.

  • The colors eventually look really well, they are very bright and strong, just as I like.
  • Painting wet-on-wet is really nice, paint spreads out evenly with a soft edge.
  • It is easy to lift out the paint.
  • Edges are crisp.
  • The surface is very smooth.
  • The paper cockles less than Fabriano Artistico.
  • As I mentioned before, the only thing that I can complain about is the color of the paper, but it doesn’t bother me much.

All in all, I think it’s a very good paper. Painting on it is a pleasure and it can be a good alternative to other papers if there’s a need. I’m very happy with my painting on Arches. The flower is 20 cm high (8″).

In case you were wondering which colors I used:

  • On the petals there is mostly Pyrrole Red Light PR255.
  • To make darker reds on the petals, I added Ultramarine Blue PB29 to Pyrrole Red Light PR255.
  • For light greens I used Winsor Yellow PY154 with Phthalo Blue PB15.
  • For darker greens I added Ultramarine Blue PB29 to the previous mix.
  • In some areas I also added a bit of Perylene Green PBk31 to make the green even darker and Translucent Orange PO71 to make it a bit warmer.
  • On the stem I also used Cobalt Turquoise Light PG50 with a bit of Ultramarine Blue PB29.
  • In some parts I used very dark turquoise colors which was a mix of Phthalo Green PG7 with Phthalo Blue PB15 (I love this mix!) and with Ultramarine Blue PB29 to tone it down a bit.

I’ve also made a video of how I was painting it.


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