Hahnemühle Harmony Watercolour Papers

An assortment of Hahnemühle Harmony spiral bound watercolour sketchbooks and blocks. The papers are also available as loose sheets in a range of sizes.

Alan Bickley puts a range of Hahnemühle Harmony Watercolour Papers to the test.

I often like to combine several, or even more different medium in a single painting, referred to as ‘mixed media’. Generally, this will consist of a combination of watercolour, gouache and ink, often with a few touches of white conte pencil for highlights.

I’ve never actually settled entirely on any one manufacturer or surface, although I do have my favourites. That’s because I enjoy experimenting and a challenge, so I was delighted to have been asked to test out this latest edition to the Hahnemühle range.

Materials tried on Hahnemühle Harmony paper

I was using a Winsor & Newton Cotman full-pan set of watercolours, and Daler-Rowney FW acrylic inks for all my demonstration pieces. The colours stood out well on the paper, adding a certain vibrancy to the paintings.



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Top features

  • Available in spiral bound pads, blocks and loose sheets
  • 140lb weight paper
  • Available in a good selection of sizes
  • Hot Pressed (HP) Not (Cold Pressed) and Rough surfaces are all available
  • Natural white colour
  • Surface sized
  • Acid free
  • Light resistant

Where to buy

Prices start from just £6.80

Available to purchase from Art Supplies with Painters Online


Hahnemühle Harmony watercolour paper put to the test

Vilonists from the Vienna Philharmonis Orchestra, watercolour painting by Alan Bickley

Sketch of a violinist from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, (from a screen shot on the TV) - on Hahnemühle Harmony Hot Pressed (HP) paper, (25.4x35.6cm), using watercolour, gouache and FW acrylic ink.

What I’ll attempt to share in my short review of Hahnemühle Harmony watercolour paper, is my experiences of how this paper performed using the direct and indirect techniques associated with watercolour painting. I’ve kept the text fairly brief, the actual paintings will hopefully tell their own story.

A welcome addition

Both the pads and blocks performed so well that I will gladly welcome them as regulars in my studio. Like for like that is, compared to similar papers of the same weight. I didn’t have any loose sheets to test, but if you’re using very wet washes, these sheets will probably benefit from being stretched beforehand.

The Harmony spiral bound watercolour pads feature 12 sheets of paper in all three surfaces, HP, Not (Cold Pressed) and Rough, and the spiral bound edge and stout backboard make them ideal for plein air work.

Taking a Break, Ballerina on Hahnemühle Harmony Cold Pressed (NOT/Cold Pressed) A4 spiral bound sketchbook, watercolour, gouache, FW acrylic ink and Conte pencil

Suitable for all techniques

Harmony watercolour paper is a natural-white paper suitable for all wet painting techniques, and being surface sized, will stand up to some paint removal, should that be necessary.

Wet colours can be easily corrected or removed with little or no damage to the surface. The paper is substantial enough to enable scratching out small areas with a scalpel blade, such as tree branches etc.

The Lane Through to Milwich, Cotman watercolours on Hahnemühle Harmony (25.4x35.6cm) Rough watercolour paper

Harmony watercolour paper is acid free, light-resistant and are eraser resistant due to the surface sizing - not that I would ever advocate or encourage the use of erasers as a general practice! As a general rule, initial pencil lines should, in my view, be left and treated as all part of the painting process.

A range of sizes and surfaces

The Hahnemühle Harmony surface sized watercolour Blocks come in a range of sizes with HP, Not (Cold Pressed) and Rough surfaces all available. Each block contains 12 sheets of paper, which is glued on the edges and has a stout backboard.

As with all watercolour blocks, these don’t require any stretching, and I used some fairly wet washes on the surface in several of my demonstrations, with very little distortion… certainly nothing of consequence, and once dry, the paper returned to its original state of being drum tight.

Liver Buildings sketch

Liver Buildings, pen and ink sketch from my own photograph, Hahnemühle Harmony Hot Pressed (HP) Watercolour Block (24.4x35.6cm)


To sum up, a very satisfactory paper all round, and with a choice of either the spiral bound sketchbook version, or the useful Block pads. There should be a size to suit most artists, and all of the three different surfaces performed well under some fairly robust treatment.

More useful information on watercolour papers

I started painting with watercolour many decades ago, and over the years I’ve tested out a vast range of the different watercolour papers that are available to us artists, from gelatine sized handmade rag papers to the numerous mould-made papers, with a view to seeing which manufacturer and surface best suited my style of painting.

I soon realised that it’s very much ‘horses for courses’ to quote that phrase. That’s because your choice of paper will largely depend on the particular subject matter that you are attempting to paint, and the specific style of painting technique that you will be adopting.

In general, the finer surface papers are more suited to more detailed studies, and on the other end of the scale, the rough surfaces are perfect for more expressive watercolours! Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here, but I’m generalising.

Direct watercolour painting

Onset of Autumn

The Onset of Autumn, watercolour and gouache in a Hahnemühle Harmony Cold Pressed (NOT/Cold Pressed) A4 spiral bound sketchbook

Watercolour painting techniques, in general, can either be what is often referred to as ‘direct painting’, where the painting is completed in a single session. This technique will encompass the often more expressive wet-in-wet painting technique. Quite often, but not exclusively, adopted by artists for rapid and spontaneous plein air work. The wonderfully fresh watercolours of Edward Wesson are good examples of this technique.


Indirect watercolour painting

View Across the Trent Valley Under Snow

View across the Trent Valley under Snow, rapid wet-in-wet watercolour on Hahnemühle Harmony (25.4x35.6cm) Cold Pressed (NOT) watercolour Block. Painted plein air using a Winsor & Newton Cotman Whole Pan Painting Box

In contrast to the wet-in-wet technique, we have the ‘indirect’ method of painting, where the painting is constructed using a series of layers, often allowing each layer to dry before adding the next one, and so on.

The late Rowland Hilder was the absolute master at this technique. I adopt both techniques with equal enthusiasm!


Hahnemühle Harmony Watercolour Papers worked well for both direct and indirect painting techniques.


About Alan Bickley

Alan is a retired graphic designer and editorial artist for the Daily Mail group of newspapers who has been painting and drawing for many decades, and studied fine art and graphic design at both Stafford and Derby colleges of art in the late 60’s.

Alan writes regularly for The Artist and you can enjoy a series of demonstrations in various mediums by


You can see more of Alan's work in the gallery by


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