I decided to write about paper first because it is the foundation and so it is important to choose the right paper for your project. I tend to stick to heavyweight papers because I like to use a lot of water, so I need something that can handle that with minimal curling. If you are using a dry medium like pencils or pastels you can use a lightweight paper.
Arches Watercolor Blocks- I love these watercolor blocks for paintings that call for loads of water and layers of paint. Watercolor blocks are glued around all four edges with a small opening on one side to allow the pages to be separated. The glued edges prevent the paper from curling when it’s wet. The paper comes in two weights 300 gsm and 640 gsm. The combination of heavyweight paper and glued edges makes the paper hold up to water really well. You can also choose between hot press or cold press for a smooth or rough texture.
Canson XL Watercolor Pad- Canson watercolor pads come in a variety of sizes and they work great for basic watercolor paintings. The weight of the paper is 300 gsm which is pretty heavy, but it can curl if a lot of water is used. I will usually tape this paper to a board to help it hold its shape.
Canson XL Mix Media Sketchbook- This is my go-to sketchbook that comes in a variety of sizes. I like to keep around a 7x10 inch and 14x17 in for bigger work. The paper is 160 gsm but still holds up well to water, paint, and ink. It also works really great with colored pencil, pastel, markers, pretty much any medium.
Hand Book Watercolor Journal- Hand Book Journals are hardbound sketchbooks filled with high quality watercolor paper. I find that these journals are great for travel thanks to the sturdy cover and elastic band to keep the book closed when it isn’t in use. I took the pocket panorama size on my 2017 Europe trip and it was perfect for making quick sketches while on the go.
I am not sponsored by any of these companies, these are just my favorite papers. Below I have provided links to different shops for each item so you can choose where you want to buy. I recommend buying from your local art shop if you are lucky enough to have anything other than a Michaels nearby. Support small businesses whenever you can!