Fuchsia on Aquarius

I remember some years ago that when I tried using Strathmore Aquarius paper, the experience was unpleasant. The paper had fiberglass in it, and if you made the mistake of rubbing your hand on the surface, you ended up with small, irritating fibres in your skin. How could I forget that? But the paper has changed, and when someone suggested recently that I should give it another try, I bought a sheet at the art supply store. Strathmore Aquarius II is quite a thin sheet and seems be manufactured only in this 80 lb weight, but because of the synthetic and cotton composition, it doesn’t buckle when you paint on it.

I took it out to sketch a few pots in the garden, with the dual purpose of trying the paper and using up a blob of Vermilion paint that had leaked in my palette. I really don’t know how this paper would be if I used it for a more complex (and layered) painting but for simple brush shapes like this, it worked pretty well. And I think this would be a great paper for taking out in the field. It’s smooth enough for a pen line and the colours remain pretty bright. And as advertised, the paper doesn’t buckle at all so no taping required. Would it replace Arches or Fabriano for larger paintings? No way. There’s no tooth to the paper, so forget granulation. But I have been writing for weeks about trying to find a paper that is both smooth enough for a fine pen line and textured enough for a wash. This is definitely a contender (along with Fluid 100 CP) for that.


31 Comments on “Fuchsia on Aquarius”

  1. Francisco Garcia says:

    so pretty


  2. Carol Koffler says:

    Whatever you used, the outcome is gorgeous!

    Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2015 20:52:33 +0000 To: ckoffler@sympatico.ca


  3. bmweeks says:

    This looks so simple, but it’s really very complex and very beautiful!


    • When I paint this kind of sketch with no pencil lines, it always starts out easy. You make one nice brush stroke (in this case, the geranium bud at the top) and then you move downward. At a certain point you realize that it is getting more complex and there is no plan for where to go next. It is a bit like a flow chart. One arrow points to success and one leads to disaster. More often than not the outcome is the latter, but occasionally it turns out ok. Thanks for writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary McLaughlin says:

    I exclaimed out loud when I saw this painting! Just exquisite – I love the composition, the movement that it has, the colors and shadows – bravo!


  5. I like the looks of it, and it might be interesting to work on thin paper that did not buckle. And how about the feel of it on your skin? I also found the fiberglass paper irritating.


  6. Dee says:

    Maybe something I could make a journal from? Sounds interesting. I haven’t tried the Fluid paper either. Seems I have been on the paper search forever!


    • Bobby Wray says:

      Dee… I buy the pads 11″ + by 15″. They’re spiral bound along the 15″ side. The 11″ + is enough extra, on the 11″ side, for the wire spiral. When finished, tear the sheet out of the pad and you wind up with an 11″ x 15″ page. Trim off the spiral deckle and you have a 1/4 sheet of paper.

      As for making this paper into a journal, here’s an idea you might want to try (as an experiment). Take the full pad to an office supply store and have them cut it in half. But before you do so, have your husband use his wire cutters to snip the wire spiral into at the half-way spot. You’ll wind up with two (2) 7-1/2″ x 11″ spiral bound pads.

      All that’s needed to “dress up” your journal is to paste some form of decorative cover over the front and back covers, that come with the pad. The back cover is a heavy cardboard in a manner similar to most spiral-bound sketch books.

      P.S. I get my pads from “Cheap Joes”.

      Good luck.


      • HI Bobby,
        Thanks again for recommending Aquarius. I am curious about the pads you buy at Cheap Joes. Are these Aquarius or Fluid?


      • Bobby Wray says:

        Well, I need to eat come crow! Checking with Cheap Joe, and two other major suppliers, I can find no AQ II pads. Finally, I went to the Strathmore site, and on the AQ II page where the pads once were listed, the line is blank. Full sheets are all that remains. Thank goodness for what little I still have in a pad. So, we’ll have to cut the full sheets.

        If Dee is following our threads, I did find on Google where there was a very nice presentation about using the AQ II for journals. Of course, the sections are sewn in the traditional manner.

        Again, sorry for misleading all.


  7. joantav says:

    Looks like it worked well for you! Nice negative painting in the leaves.


  8. Rene Manning says:

    El efecto de las hojas me gusta mucho. Precioso trabajo. Imagino que es de una sola intensión el poner esos efectos en los verdes de la planta. Felicidades.


  9. Genine says:

    Wow Shari. This is gorgeous! Love the vibrancy.


  10. Bobby Wray says:

    Glad you like it. I didn’t think it would disappoint you.


  11. I’m going to try it….the white space looks so pure, very cool mon ami . . .


  12. so fresh and lively and I just love all the different shades of green!


  13. kasperart says:

    Your work is a great inspiration…


  14. tmikeporter says:

    Helpful review, thanks!


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