The Life of Richard Parker
Painted on Indigo Handmade Paper
A couple of months ago, I received a special preview on a new paper product from Indigo Artpapers
This preview really came at a perfect time for me. My favorite paper has always been Arches but I have recently noticed a change in their paper. The sizing seemed patchy and the paper didn’t absorb the same way. It was very frustrating. At first, I thought I had a bad batch but each time I bought some more of the Arches paper, the same problems continued to happen! Then I heard that Arches was sold out to Canson. Somehow and someway, the paper has changed and I was not happy about it. So I have been trying out different types of paper to find the perfect one. In this search for paper, I have considered switching from the mouldmade, such as Arches, to handmade paper. Then Indigo Artpapers, a manufacturer of handmade watercolor paper contacted me and requested that I give their paper a try. I was very happy to accommodate this request. 
I also investigated the company a bit more. Indigo Artpapers is located in Canada and distributes the handmade paper made in the family’s mill in India. There are 2 types of paper. One is made from 100%  high quality cotton rag and the other one is 75% cotton, 25% flax fiber. They are both archival and acid free. The most wonderful thing about the paper and the company is that they emphasize their environmentally friendly process. They are a “Green” company that doesn’t use bleach like most paper companies use. I like this because I often refer to myself as an “eco-artist” since watercolor is one of the most environmentally friendly of all the painting media out there. 
I was very interested in trying out this new paper. Since the paper does not use bleach, there is an off white color to it. At first this seemed intimidating but I quickly discovered what a nice warmth it gave to each of my pieces. (I have completed 4 paintings so far and starting on another one! The Life of Richard Parker is one of them) Besides, the slight ivory color becomes less noticeable as color is added to the paper. I also discovered how luxurious it feels to paint on handmade paper. I know several watercolor artists that paint on handmade paper and they have told me that I will never go back. It felt like I was really treating myself to something special. A bubble bath instead of a shower. Hand-dipped chocolates instead of the Halloween leftovers. A real fire instead of the Shaw cable log. It was heavenly!
I have tried the 100% cotton paper and the cotton/flax blend and enjoy both of them. Although I will admit that 3 of the 4 paintings I’ve done are on the 100% cotton. Some habits just die hard. The paper does have some wonderful characters to it that adds appeal to the painting. This handmade paper is thicker and richer with its beautiful long fibers and I especially love the deckle edges! (Because of the deckle edges, please do not tape over them) It also feels like I am in collaboration with another artist by using this paper. An artist that took great care and pride in making this paper for me. One that values our world and the environment that we live in. An artist that has used their hands and their heart to create something special. 
Indigo Artpapers will be supplying their handmade paper to art stores in the near future. More information about the paper and their process can be found on their website by clicking here.
In the meantime, I know what I want for Christmas:  More Handmade Paper!!
Leslie Lambert

Author Leslie Lambert

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • That's rather sad about Arches. Their paper was an absolute delight to work with. They'd been around for centuries – literally. I am getting a bit low on paper, and will be on the prowl for more quality paper soon. Let's keep each other informed.

  • Yes, it is sad that the quality of Arches has changed. I hope that Indigo will be available soon. I think they are hoping to get it into Opus.

  • Wow, never knew that about Arches. I still have lots in stock but I will watch for the new stuff in Opus. Thanks for the heads up.

  • RH Carpenter says:

    Oh, I am sad about Arches. I find it's not the same and wondered if it was just me. I do like Fabriano. As for the painting? ha ha Love it but I think if Richard Parker had been such a wee thing and so very cute, Pi would not have had such a rough journey trying to tame him! ha ha