It has been a confronting fortnight for me. The drawing paper which I had been using exclusively since 2001 suddenly ran out. I found out that my beloved Magnani Pescia was gone, gone, gone. The Magnani paper mill in Italy (which started in 1404) stopped making paper last year. I had wind of this news but it didn’t bother me as I had 100 sheets stored away which I’d bought a few years ago. Last week when I opened this ream of paper I found to my absolute horror that the whole lot was warped. It must have got damp at one stage (before I bought it) and then dried out and shrunk.
After contemplating giving up drawing altogether (irrational thoughts conceived in a state of despair) I consulted my Facebook friends to find out what papers they used. I also visited three different branches of West Australian art supply store, Jacksons Drawing Supplies, and talked to the various staff members who were extremely helpful.
I came home with several different paper brands and proceeded to find things wrong with each of them. However I had to make a start so I began with a French paper called Velin BFK Rives (270 gsm). At first it felt so alien that I was drawing for the first couple of days in a state of pure fear. Was it strong? Would it tear? Would it ball up? But as the hours passed, nothing terrible happened and I calmed down. The colours looked quite vibrant and I began to acclimatize to the different feel of the pencils going down onto the surface.
I’m going to see this drawing through because I believe very much in it. Then, in the spirit of scientific adventure, I plan to draw on other paper surfaces used by CP artists; for example, Fabriano Artistico, Arches watercolour papers and Legion Stonehenge. What fun!
At the moment I am trying to figure out what’s going on in the complicated pattern of this Japanese bride’s “iro-uchikake”.
Next week two major events happen. The first is that Ann Kullberg is coming to visit from Seattle and will be conducting coloured pencil workshops from my house. The second is, on the same day Ann arrives, I have to turn up to court to do my jury service! Oh life!! So, I may not finish this drawing for a while.
Note: I heard from a reliable source just today that Magnani mill is being relocated and reorganized. Pescia will be produced again however it will take several months to be back in stock around the world for artists to buy. So I need not have despaired quite so much. In the meantime it will be good to see for myself how other papers handle coloured pencils.
Afterword (added in late 2016) : The new Magnani factory HAS reopened and the papers it is producing are available. On a personal note, in September 2015 I started using Arches Aquarelle hot-pressed paper and haven’t looked back. This is now my favourite paper. I doubt I will return to Magnani Pescia.