Paper, paper, everywhere...

      You'd think that by now I would know which paper is right for me. I use watercolour, so it should be watercolour paper. I draw with fineliners, so hot-pressed (HP)  is better than cold-pressed. A nice heavy weight should do  - 300gsm. But it's just not that simple.
     I've spent so many hours and wasted so many pounds searching cities high and low for the right HP watercolour paper. There have been false alarms and premature celebrations when I mistakenly thought that I'd found The One. I remember one morning about three years ago, O'Sullivan's in Dublin I think it was, when I found The Langton (HP, 300gsm). I couldn't wait to bring it home and try it out. I was overjoyed at first - smooth with a little tooth, the pen seemed to glide effortlessly over the surface without a care in the world. Before long though, the cracks began to show. The colours came out too pale and the wash seemed to skim over the page in places, without sticking properly. Not to mention the fact that it didn't come in sheets bigger than 16 x 12 inches.
        Last year I discovered its close relative, The Langton - Prestige (HP, 300gsm) peeping out shyly from under the Rough Grain pads in a London shop. "Hello you," it cooed invitingly, "Try me out, look at my fetching peach cover". It was making its debut on the market, and it was sooo good. The colours blended beautifully and it had a delicious grain. But of course there had to be a catch - it was so new that it came only in a small size. I called up Daler Rowney and tearfully begged them to hurry up and start manufacturing Prestige in larger sheets. They told me where to go.
              Two months ago, I thought that all my worries were finally over when I tried Fabriano Artistico Extra White (HP, 300gsm) [see picture]. It  had the right amount of tooth and was the right shade of white, it behaved itself impeccably when colour was applied and it came in gigantic sheets. It seemed like my long search was finally over. The following week, I went back for more of the same but when I brought it home, it was different. Creamier. Smoother. All wrong.
     Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the one with the problem. Or maybe other drawers out there agree that it's a minefield out there.  The search continues...