If you’re wondering how to paint something cheerful this autumn why not give my method of painting Black Eyed Susans a go? You can paint sunflowers or chrysanthemums or daisies like this too – any flower, in fact. And watch as I find out whether the Arches watercolor paper I just received is as good as all the hype would have you believe.

I have been using Arches watercolor paper since about 1983 when I first started to paint watercolors seriously. I was studying to become a Waldorf teacher, and part of the training was to paint wet in wet watercolor and also to touch on the practise of “Veil Painting.” This is a fairly specialised and slow way of building a painting up using many layers of very dilute paint carefully and precisely applied. It requires paper which has a very high tolerance for much reworking and lifting out. Arches fits the bill probably better than any other paper, certainly at that time it was true. It has long cotton fibres in it which resist pilling, and is internally sized to ensure even wash dispersal.

Recently I have resisted buying Arches paper because of the price, and because I am living in France where it is very hard to get hold of materials physically, and I wanted to check the quality of the current version of Arches paper – since they are now owned by the same company (huge Swedish conglomerate) which owns Canson and many other paper producers – lived up to what I remembered, before shelling out many euros on paper I might not like.

In the midst of these cogitations came to the rescue one of our YouTube followers, who was having trouble with some Arches paper she had invested in. She kindly offered to send me a pad to try, so that she could be sure whether it was her dry climate or the paper itself which was responsible! The pad arrived, together with a selection of other paper she is using, and here is my first experience of it – painting Black-Eyed Susans on Arches Paper.

Black-Eyed Susans on Arches Paper – Part One

Here’s the first half of the video on painting the Black-Eyed Susans on a sheet of Arches watercolor (NOT) paper 9 x 12 inches.

Black-Eyed Susans on Arches Paper – Part Two

Here’s the second half of the video on painting the Black-Eyed Susans.

Black-Eyed Susans – Final Painting

Shop my Materials

This is most artists’ watercolor paper of choice. 100% cotton, internally sized and with a hard-wearing and enjoyable surface to paint on, it’s probably worth the extra cost.

I like these brushes for their shape and they aren’t expensive, yet last a long time. Very useful for painting petals and leaves, and also for fine lines turned on its side.

This is an amazing price for a set of artists’ quality watercolors, so if it is a genuine Winsor and Newton product it’s a no-brainer. I’m tempted to order one just to find out!