more and more papers

by this time i had bought more paints than one person should admit to owning.

i kept them in flat tupperware containers, sorted by hue, to keep them (i told myself) from drying out.

i had discovered the daniel smith retail carnival, the weird fascination of a large fullcolor catalog and a toll free number femmed by charming and articulate operators. i marched through the daniel smith inventory of watercolor brushes, then did the same for other brands.

think disposable income, precious little free time, and the ease of buying compared to the work of painting.

i made my first order of full sheet watercolor papers, a sampler pack from daniel smith ... arches, lanaquarelle, saunders waterford, fabriano, moldau. the package arrived promptly, crated in cardboard, weighty and larger than expected.

it sounds crazy, but the first time i lifted up a single sheet, and looked at it in the light, and heard its metallic rattle, i was ... mesmerized. it was like the first time experiencing static electricity, or chocolate, or euclid's theorems, or a new lover's breasts.

i launched on several large pictures, soaked and stretched the sheets, traced carefully the outlines of new pictures with a magnajector and old photos. a picture of my dad ... a picture of me ... a picture of my wife.

as i did with paints, i explored the handling and uses of paper ... its texture, finish, furnish, sizing, color, weight, deckle, rattle, absorbency, resiliency.

i bought watercolor blocks from arches and lanaquarelle, winsor & newton and fabriano, and a block or two from saunders waterford. rough, cold press, hot, i test drove them all.

i tested the papers, making standard test sheets and standard paper tests. did some tests on watercolor block paper, realized these papers were inferior to the full sheets, discarded the block sheets and started tests all over.

i did more and more paint wheels, paintings big and small, mostly on a block of fabriano artistico rough.

i felt compelled to know these things, the way i prowl my backyard when i first move into a new home, learning the dirt that is my new space, down to the least weed and fence knothole.

how strange, as i learned art, to discover ... how i learned art.

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