There is no definitive rule for matching the right fine art paper (or canvas) to the original piece that’s being reproduced, whether that piece is oil on canvas, a charcoal sketch, a watercolor or any other medium.
Ultimately, it’s based on the artist’s preference and their interpretation of the piece for reproduction. However, certain media generally translate into certain types of fine art reproduction materials.
Obviously, oil on canvas will generally be reproduced on canvas. Of course, there is then the choice between a satin, gloss or matte finish, and any coating that may go over the canvas to both protect it and create its own finish (more on that in a future post, or you can download the free white paper, How to Make Canvas Printing Work for You).
For fine art papers, veteran print maker Kent Foster, owner of Fostergraphs Inc., Decorah, Iowa, has two “go-to” papers: Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g for those who want a more textured surface and Sunset Cotton Etching Paper 285g for those who prefer a smoother finish.
“For the most part, we use Sunset Cotton Etching for pencil, charcoal and sketch work that’s more flat. We use Textured Fine Art predominately for watercolor reproductions, as well as oil paintings when they’re going to paper and not canvas because these artists tend to like a textured paper. And, they tend to work in textured medium to begin with,” says Foster.
In the example pictured above, Foster reproduced a piece entitled Where Eagles Soar by award-winning water color artist Mary Ann Gloe. It’s one of four watercolors Foster reproduced for the Luther College bookstore to replenish their stock of Gloe’s work.
“She’s a very talented artist has won a lot of state awards. I’ve been doing work for her since 2005, and that’s about how long we’ve been using Textured Fine Art as our primary textured fine art paper,” says Foster. “Artists want a nice product at an economical price. It’s a nice paper, it has a good weight, it presents very well and it’s priced reasonably. In this case, the watercolor looks especially good on a textured surface. The original surface she works on is typically somewhat textured, and this paper accurately represents the original.”