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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Making Art Together

Watercolor Paper 101

Occasionally, Meghan and I get emails asking us about specific materials we use or to further explain how we made something in The Studio. Below is one of our most recent letters with a question about our watercolor paper:

We visited the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on Saturday and had a wonderful time! What a treasure. While we were there we painted several watercolors and oil pastels in the studio. (Sadly, we forgot them, too!) The paper we were given was great to use, especially for the watercolors. . . If someone could email me back with the name of the company that produces the paper, I'd very much appreciate it. I'd like to stock it in our home art studio as well. Many thanks, Christina Z.

Hi Christina, 

The watercolor paper we use for painting and tissue paper collage projects in The Studio is Nasco brand 65 lb felt finish Student Watercolor paper. We go through so much paper here that we buy it in 100 sheet packs 20 x26 and cut it down into rectangular or square pieces. We're also a fan of Canson's line of high-quality papers and often use them in our workshops. Any art supply store will carry a variety of student-grade and professional-grade papers in sheets or pads in the size that works best for your home studio or classroom. Occasionally we run out of watercolor paper before the next order arrives so we'll switch to a heavy-weight drawing paper. You'll notice the difference between "watercolor" paper and "regular" paper if you rub the surface too hard with a brush or overload it with water. Extra sizing is added to watercolor papers to keep the wet media on the surface rather than absorbing into the fibers causing crumbling or tearing. I've witnessed children make hard brush marks or layer the paint on the surface get frustrated painting on lower-quality paper. If you've seen a similar response consider upgrading to a higher quality paper. One rule of thumb for finding the right paper for your needs is to look at the weight listed in pounds on the pack or pad. The weight of the paper refers to the weight of a ream (500 sheets) and not each individual sheet; copy paper is about 20 lb. 40 lb paper is thinner and not as sturdy as 140 lb. paper. You can read a lot more about how paper is made here or here.

In case you're looking for a gift for that young artist in your life, The Carle Bookshop sells a line of very reasonably priced drawing sketchpads featuring some of Eric's well-known characters including the Lil' Eco Sketchpad and Sketch & Tell books.

Keep the questions coming! Email Meghan and Diana here:



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 



by Diana MacKenzie

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 at 8:00 am and is filed under By Diana MacKenzie, Collage, Our Favorite Materials, Painting, Paper. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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