Jack Richeson

The Jack Richeson company is a family owned art supplies manufacturer and distributor located in Wisconsin (USA). They provide a large selection of products, including brushes and artist's easels, under their own name, and are sole owners of other brands such as Yarka, Best Easels, Unison pastels and Shiva oil paints and oil bars. Founded in 1981 by Jack Richeson and his wife Ruth, the company has expanded largely by acquiring niche or languishing brands and rebuilding them through inflated list prices that are aggressively discounted for favored retailers. Richeson's watercolor paints are made by and sold under the Yarka brand, and they offer a reasonably wide selection of their own watercolor brushes.

The Jack Richeson Watercolor papers are a slightly warm white sheet. Sheets are mouldmade, 100% cotton, and pH neutral, internally sized with Aquapel and externally sized with animal gelatin, with two natural deckle edges, and the watermark "JACK RICHESON" in the lower left corner (the watermark reads right from the felt side). Finish is comparable on both the wire and felt sides. The rattle is slightly muffled, indicating the cellulose fibers were not intensively macerated and are not tightly compacted. The papers burn to a very light gray, fragile ash. — Available in CP or R finish, in weights of 300 or 640 GSM as single (30"x22") or (60"x40") sheets, or as watercolor blocks in (15"x11"), (22"x15") formats. Price of a single 300 GSM 22" x 30" sheet is about US$4.00.

The finish deliciously combines a slight linear pattern from the mould with an even, gentle tooth from the blanket, visible as a regular texture of shallow dimples. Deckles are medium sized and appear sheared or flexed along the length of the sheet, as if the paper had been pulled sideways from the mould. The color is a bright and slightly warm white. The sizing is minimal: the sheet exhausted the wash rather quickly, and the cobalt banding was hardly visible; the magenta went on smoothly with no trace of blossoming; the ultramarine gave a soft, subdued flocculation. Resists came off cleanly and easily. Scrubbing did little to lift color and if pursued caused unsightly streak marks and bruising; any lifting causes some damage or discoloration apparent under the repainted area.

This last point bears emphasis, because the sheets were sold to me by Robert Doak (Brooklyn, NY) as having an ample surface sizing of vegetable starch which would hold the color on the surface and make pigments easy to lift. Just the opposite is true. The sheet soaks up paint like a raw cotton swab, and once applied (whether wet in wet or wet on dry) nearly all paints are impossible to lift cleanly. (Some paint does lift, of course, but the range of manipulation possible through rubbing or lifting is very limited.) Backruns are difficult to produce intentionally, and surface moisture quickly migrates into the core of the paper.

For sceptics, here is a simple and convincing test: draw a pencil line on the sheet with a soft lead graphite pencil, then paint over the line with a diluted watercolor paint. Not only does the line remain intact after the paint has dried, you can actually erase the line with a kneadable eraser without lifting any of the paint, which has sunk underneath it! If a significant layer of surface sizing were present, the graphite would either dissolve away when the paint was applied or would fuse with the sizing as it dried, making it difficult to erase. The paint color is also no brighter than it is on most other sheets. In sum, these papers hardly live up to the claims made for them by Stephen Quiller, Doak and others.

Please see the page how to test watercolor papers for an explanation of my paper evaluation methods.

JACK RICHESON watercolor (600gsm CP)