Watercolor paper gone bad? Sizing surface coating problems Arches, Bee, Strathmore white spots dots specks.

I've run into a lot of problems with uneven wet washes, splotchy absorption or white speckled dots where watercolor paint will not sink into the surface coating (sizing) of the paper. It appears that Arches cold press cotton watercolor paper has been having an increased rate of sizing failure in 2020-2021. It is possible that during the pandemic supply shortages something changed with their core ingredients to make this paper more susceptible to this issue.

signs your watercolor paper has gone bad white speckle spot texture arches cold press surface sizing problem

I talk more about my favorite watercolor papers, waterproof pens and inks, paint brushes and more on this page:

watercolor supplies list paper pens waterproof ink paint brushes

Watercolor supplies - list of waterproof ink, pens, paint brushes, paper (both cellulose and cotton, affordable student to pro quality options), swatch card creation and storage, lighting, basics of top-down video making for artists and crafters including camera holders, free and low cost editing software and other tools!

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  • Wendy - February 21, 2022

    I too have been noticing my 140lb cp paper is not handling watercolor paint well. On a recent painting, there were ‘dead’ spots and a few speckles of white …where I didn’t want them. I finally, well into my painting realized that the paper was defective. I have had it maybe a year. I accidentally splashed just a few drops on a clean 140 hp paper. I quickly dabbed it with a towel and it did not lift leaving 3 spots! Thank you for your discussion. I have been searching for a sizing solution (pre-made). Daniel Smith has the paper ground but I was hoping to find liquid. Holbein has one but do you recommend any others?

  • Gabrielle - January 29, 2022

    Thanks for your useful blog. I also have this white speckles issue with my watercolor paper. Both Arches and Fabriano artistico from different brand new packages! I suppose it is an issue with the storage at the store… I will return some of it but still tried to figure out how to solve this. Soaking the paper helps, but simply applying a solution of 1/10 gum arabic and leaving it to dry restored the paper perfectly. Too much gum arabic would make layering difficult as paint would lift too easily, but 1/10 was great in my tests

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