There are plenty of different brands and sorts of paper on the market, and it often gets confusing to figure out which one suits best for your needs. It takes practice and experience to know the behavior of a particular paper and predict the results you are going to get. So after some trial and error I found paper which I'm more than happy to paint on (it doesn't mean, however, that I stopped trying out new brands, since I always keep my mind open about art materials).
1. Arches cold press 140 lb is the paper I use probably 80 percent of the time. This paper suits my painting style perfectly, and I love the way it accepts lots of water and pigment, producing lovely results. As an illustration, here's my watercolor made in wet-on-wet technique, on a paper from 9''x12'' block. I prefer blocks over sheets btw, since they are so convenient to use - no need to cut and tape.
2. Sennelier grain torchon 140 lb is another sort of paper I've been using a lot lately for small illustrations like these butterflies. Personally, this paper is more accommodating for wet-on-dry rather than wet-on-wet watercolor technique. The surface has a very nice, "upscale" feel and texture to it, and the only downside of this paper is that it's pricey.
3. Saunders Waterford grain torchon 140 lb is also a great paper to work with. You can see its beautiful texture on my painting "Hand In Hand", which is sized 9''x12''. The paper has a pleasant, slightly creamy tone.
4. Fabriano Artistico cold press 140 lb is last, but not least. A not to miss paper, in my opinion, since it's versatile and receptive to all watercolor techniques. Therefore, I'm considering to use it more often. This is one of my latest works, painted on Fabriano paper. "Morning Coffee", 9''x12''.
Of course, the above is not a full list of papers I've had a chance to work with. It just would be impossible to tell about all of them in one post. I've painted on different media, from watercolor canvas to paper made of hemp and lokta, and I'm in a constant search for new textures to try. Apparently, it can be equally delightful to paint on either expensive, classic watercolor paper or some sorts that aren't even meant to be used with watercolor. There are no limits to creative ideas, after all.
In the comments section, I'd love to hear about your favorite paper. Have you ever tried anything unusual to paint on with watercolor?
PS Next time I will tell about my watercolor palette, so stay tuned!