The paper I used for this painting is recommended by one of the two online "gurus" I've followed this year. Her name is Jenna Rainey and she's a remarkable success story. Young, self-taught, talented, driven and charismatic, she has created a successful brand out of her passion for painting florals. Good on her.
Anyway. I've bloody hated her recommended paper: Legion Stonehenge 300gsm. It's cheaper than the one I like and I thought it would be a good alternative. But the results I get are bad. It's unforgiving. My colours end up muddy and dull and the watercolour doesn't respond within the fibres like it does on my preferred Arches Aquarelle 300gsm. So I say NO!
I've resented that big old block sitting on shelf as my stock of expensive favourite diminishes day by day. Every now and then I half heartedly try a sheet, but my expectation of failure probably doesn't help and every time I end up with a mess that reinforces how right I am about how wrong this paper is.
However something clicked a couple of days ago. I'd had an excruciating injection into a facet joint in my back and had to lie down for a few days to let it settle. I was unable to watch painting tutorials on YouTube with a paintbrush poised, like usually do, so I was consuming them with a different intention. I noticed HOW Jenna was painting rather than just WHAT she was painting. (It was a Christmas wreath, if you are interested.) She approaches the task with much more consideration and care than I'd really noticed before. (I was always noting the shapes and hues and how the colours were mixed, rather than her attitude and demeanour.) Her touch and strokes are light and measured. She also never panics like I do sometimes. She is utterly calm and at peace with the process, something I know comes with practice, knowledge and experience. All things I look forward to coming to me as I learn.
When I was able to paint again, I decided to tackle the odious paper with the demeanour of Jenna. I didn't paint from one of her tutorials, no. I did my own thing. But I approached it slowly. It took me three days and I finished it this morning. It's definitely not a masterpiece: the composition needs work, everything actually needs work. But what it isn't is a battle with the paper, which is an enormous victory for me.
My next endeavour will be to paint the PISANKI EGG, an exercise created by my main guru and inspiration, Este McLeod. I have tried to do this exercise three times and have hated what I've created every time. This time, however, is going to be different, because I have decided it will be so.
Wish me luck.