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As I get more serious about watercolors, I've noticed it's such a heavily material-dependent medium that if you want a certain effect in your painting, you MUST get a certain brand of paper, a specific brand of paint (depending on the color too), a certain type of brush with a certain type of hair. You SHOULD also know if you have hard or soft water and try to keep the humidity in the room consistent. It's very finicky which is why it's the most difficult medium to master but when the effect comes out right, I absolutely love it. My question is has anyone who has made a career out of professional level paintings (gallery level) thought "what if they stop making this paper or that paint for whatever reason?" You might have to scrap the style you worked so hard to establish. Would that scare you away?
 

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- I've noticed it's such a heavily material-dependent medium that if you want a certain effect in your painting, you MUST get a certain brand of paper, a specific brand of paint (depending on the color too), a certain type of brush with a certain type of hair. ...has anyone who has made a career out of professional level paintings (gallery level) thought "what if they stop making this paper or that paint for whatever reason?" You might have to scrap the style you worked so hard to establish. Would that scare you away?
Nobody is chiming in, so hopefully you'll accept a non-professional opinion. You should choose a good paper and professional paints and use them to learn what they can do rather than try to reproduce someone's specific results (which may never be achieved). I can't imagine keeping a bunch of different brands of paper around to achieve a specific result. Switching paper will force you to learn how it behaves and you might have some unexpected things in your washes until you learn its working parameters. If you switch again you'll have to learn the next one. Adding a new color to your palette will force you to learn how it mixes, stains and spreads out on wet paper etc. Even buying full sheets of Arches paper you'll see some variation. I sometimes coat the paper with white before starting when I notice the pigments are getting absorbed by the paper too much. -Or if I'm using a pigment that stains my paper too deeply and I want to use lifting in spots. You can learn to get good results without having someone's branded brushes, paper or pigments. Most techniques will work with good materials. One's style is not entirely dependent on the materials they use. Homer or Wyeth for example: They didn't even use the paint they had in traditional ways but still managed to create very stylistic paintings on a variety of surfaces. Embrace happy accidents and enjoy the process of learning how new things behave.
 

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The watercolor paper you choose has a big impact on your first painting. You might choose an expensive paper that can't tolerate heavy washing. Alternatively, select a low-cost set of 50, 100, or 120 sheets and practice polishing your washes.
 
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