Painting on a watercolor block

I’ve only done it once, but I’m already falling in love with painting on a watercolor block. I bought my first watercolor block at Blick in downtown San Francisco. I happen to love Blick since it’s run by artists for artists.

I’ve been to its competitors and only Blick actually has artists working there. I first ask them their medium so I know their area of expertise. They know what they’re talking about. I love that!

Anyways, I’m used to painting on Arches 140 lb paper, which I love. I wanted to try something different though since I’m getting sick of masking taping the papers to the wooden painting board.

Advantages of a watercolor block

With a watercolor block, you don’t have to do that. You simply paint straight onto the block. When you’re done, you take a butter knife and cut off the paper you just painted on.

After the paper is done, you still have to treat it like regular watercolor paper. I add three layers of wax afterwards. After letting the painting dry overnight (I take no chances), I add the first layer of wax. Then at night, I’ll add the second layer. The next morning, I’ll add the third layer of wax.

I do this to all my paintings to protect them. I’ll frame the best ones eventually. I’m still a student though and intend to be one until 2022. If I could go pro before that, great. If not, that’s fine too. 2022 is when I set my goal to go pro.

Why all the masking tape on regular paper? Because if you don’t, the paper will buckle something terrible. I’m too lazy to prep the paper beforehand. I never learned how to do that. I’ve read about it and it seems like too much work.

You might think it’s easy. Well, I don’t. The less work I have to do, the better. I want to get straight to drawing, then inking, then painting. I don’t want to have to do shit beforehand.

Now, if you don’t use a lot of water, you don’t have to worry. It depends on your style. But my style involves a lot of water.

I’m starting to develop a sort of pinup fantasy style. Fantasy girls painted in a pinup style. To get their skin tones, I use a lot of water. Seven layers of paint in fact for the skin tones alone.

Other advantages

I’m sure there are other nice advantages of watercolor blocks. Like portability, etc. Frankly, I don’t care. I only paint at home.

When I go to my models’ homes, I bring pencils, a pencil sharpener, and paper. Or a drawing pad. That’s it. I do everything from a sketch.

Portability sounds nice. You simply bring the pad and start painting on it. You could do your outdoor watercolors (if that’s your thing) with simply a travel set and a watercolor block. If you do that, I’m sure you’ll especially love these things.

I didn’t buy the Arches. Rather, I tried the Blick store brand. You know what? I freaking love it! It’s pretty good quality paper.

Like I said earlier, I use a lot of water. My style involves seven layers of paint to get her skin tones looking right. Each layer of paint is proceeded by water. That’s a lot of water.

The paper doesn’t buckle at all. It’s perfectly flat.

Now if I removed it from the block, yes, it would buckle. But why do that? Just paint directly on the block.

Taking off the paper from the block

This is the easiest thing in the world. I’ve heard some people bitch about this. I don’t see why.

You simply take a butter knife and cut around the edges. The Blick block has a white indentation. The outside glue is black. There’s no way you can’t see where to start the cut.

Once you start the cut, you go all the way around. If it sounds childishly simple, it’s because it really is childishly simple. You can have your kid do it for you. Seriously.

My first painting from a watercolor block

I bought the 7″x10″. I want to really focus on the girls, rather than the backgrounds. It’s 20 sheets and it was pretty cheap. I don’t remember the exact price.

The painting turned out exactly as I wanted it to. Allie is very pretty. But she’s also very cute. I aimed for cute this time, and I think I pulled it off.

Notice the paper. Flat as a board. Didn’t buckle at all despite using that much water.

I haven’t done a wash yet, but I’ve heard the same. It won’t buckle on you since it’s glued to the other sheets. Maybe the bottom papers will. I only painted the top paper so far.

That’s enough though for me to write an article and tell you that I had a blast painting on a watercolor block. You should try it.

Painting Allie as a pinup on a Blick watercolor block

Painting Allie as a pinup on a Blick watercolor block


Roman is an artist, composer, writer, and travel junkie.

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