Paul Rubens Round Cold Press Watercolor Block

REVIEW: Paul Rubens Round Cold-Pressed Watercolor Block

Rectangular and square. Square and rectangular. Those are pretty much the usual choices when it comes to watercolor paper. But, sometimes, you want to shake things up, inspire the muse, or just get out of your comfort zone. Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Block is a 7.48 inch (19 cm) diameter round shape, that’s a good size for a small painting, mandala, or large ornament.



  • 140lb 50% Cotton Rag
  • Cold Pressed
  • 7.48-Inch / 19 cm Diameter
  • 20 Round Sheets
  • Acid-Free

What is a Watercolor Block?

Many of you already know the answer to this, but first-timers are usually baffled, because there are seldom instructions to using a watercolor block of paper.

A block is simply a pad of paper that is glued most of the way around. There is an inch or two left unglued where you can insert a tool, cut through the glue, and remove the sheet of paper. I use a palette or spreader knife most of the time, but I’ve even used credit cards or spoon handles for the removal.

Why would you want to use a block? Well, you don’t have to stretch the paper or tape it down to prevent curling. And it helps protect the other sheets in the pad while you are painting.

There are some down sides. Sometimes, It is hard to find the unglued inch or so. Sometimes, the glue can be difficult to cut, and you end up tearing the paper. Really annoying, if you mess up something you’ve just painted.

Also, some papers will still develop dimpling or waves or puff up, but this would happen if you simply taped it down, too.

The third down side is that blocks are usually more expensive.

I found the opening easy to find on the Paul Rubens round block. It differs in color slightly, and you can see the edges of the glue.

The glue was easy to cut, but I did have to pay attention to the angle of my knife because of the slope of the round paper.

Paul Rubens Round Watercolor block runs around $14 USD, which a nice price for 20 sheets.

Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Paper Detail

Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Block – The Paper

Having 50% cotton rag means this paper has many of the characteristics of cotton paper, but doesn’t hold up to scrubbing quite as well. Color lifts well – maybe too easily. I wouldn’t recommend this as the first paper for a entry-level beginner, but a good one later, to help an artist learn how the paint to water ratio affects the paper and the paint.

The paper is cold pressed, with an even surface pattern across the page. The wells are not too deep, so you can draw on it. It is a bit rough for fabric nibs.

The surface on the back is smoother, though still a cold-pressed surface.

Once painted, the pattern of the surface shows through adding texture to finished painting, unless the paint is very thick.

Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Painting Example 1

Examples Using Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Block

Masking Fluid & Tape

Masking fluid and tape came off easily without tearing the paper. A bit rough for pen, you do get feathering. However, that allows you to get some nicely shaded areas, and a good value range.

Colors stay really bright, so you can get bold results with your paint.

Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Painting Example 2

Mandalas and Ornaments

The shape of the paper lends itself to mandalas, obviously. No need to find a Round object to trace or try to create a circle, you can just concentrate on the shapes and patterns.

Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Paper Used For Mandalas Example

The paper is stiff, the kind more likely to bend than wrinkle. It’s a bit too stiff for complicated folds like origami, but holds its shape well, making it good for ornaments or decoration. The paper also cuts cleanly, and doesn’t continue to tear.

I made some 1-inch cuts around the edge and folded it more or less at random, to create this simple shape just to see how it handled both actions.

Wet On Wet

For this example, I used a lot of water, both letting it puddle on the paper and with a juicy water-to-paint ratio.

Being on a block, the paper didn’t curl, and there was no dimpling, but the paper did puff up. A little like a souffle that falls – the paper puffed up just a little, and then settled down as the paint dried.

The color flowed beautifully, moving well but not wildly.

The photo above shows the first layer of paint after drying.

For the second layer, I used a thicker mix of paint. I did find that even light scrubbing or too much water in the brush would result in lifting the color from the previous layer.

I didn’t get mud though, and the paper didn’t pill. I just got lighter color instead of adding color.

It only took me a few moments to figure out the water/paint ratio and how much pressure I should use. It would take longer for the less experienced artist, and might frustrate the beginner.

Colors stay bright. This would be a great paper for the mid-level beginner to learn control of water and pressure on the brush. More advanced artists would enjoy the color and could take advantage of the easy color lifting.

I took a sheet off the block to see how it differed in the painting. I used the same wet-into-wet and wet on dry method. There really wasn’t much difference, except the paper did curl a little. Some of the curl remained after the paper dried, and even weighting didn’t flatten it entirely.

The surface of the back is different, so I wanted to see how it handled. I flipped the previous painting over and painted this, again using the same method.

The brightness of color and smooth flow of the paint is the same. I don’t feel the color moves lifts quite as easily, but I might have been adjusting my own technique at this point. Some things become instinctual as you repeat them.

You don’t have the surface texture in the finished painting. Some people might like this side better, some won’t. I prefer the front myself.

The brightness of color on this paper lends itself to paintings that feel warm and sunny.

The downside, which is going to be true of any round shaped paper, is that it is easy to get a lopsided horizon line, as I did in this example. My explanation of course, is that the longhorn is standing on a slope. But this is supposed to be Texas, and it isn’t noted for slopes, I don’t think.

A little bit of planning can help prevent this, and the round shape invites interesting compositions.

Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Block – Overall

The Paul Rubens Round Watercolor Block is a nice change from square and rectangular paintings. The 7.48 inch diameter is a nice size for a small painting, and the round shape lends itself to mandalas and unusual subjects. The paper is 50% rag cotton and has a cold-pressed surface.

The color stays bright on this paper, and paint flows beautifully.

Color lifts easily, which might be a problem for some, but also makes this a good paper to practice controlling the lift because it holds up to scrubbing.

The surface texture is different on the back, but handles the paint much the same. The main difference is the texture in the finished painting.

Links of Interest



I received this cold pressed Round Watercolor Block from Paul Rubens, for the purposes of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in Art Supply Reviews

15 thoughts on “REVIEW: Paul Rubens Round Cold-Pressed Watercolor Block

    1. Hi Sandra, I got the number 4 long because I got aggravated using the Silver Black Velvet #4. These are my favorite brushes, but the #4 just didn’t hold enough paint. The Princeton Velvet Touch did the jib & I might get hooked on these in the future! Great review, thank you!

      1. Thank you, Karen! I really like the Velvetouch brushes. Those and the Princeton Nepture Quill size 4 (which is much larger than a round size 4, and holds enormous amounts of paint) are my go-to brushes.

  1. I love your reviews Sandra! You have a gift with that as you do with your art 😉 – which I love seeing more of when you do these reviews. You made me want to run out and find the paper in the round!! Very cool that you turned one around and painted on the backside too. I think I asked you about that once.

  2. Sandra another review that just overpass my expectations and agitate my creativity with ideas and possibilities… Thanks for your effort and well done reviews… The choice of music always set the mood for the imagination to flow freely…. Thanks….

  3. As always, LOVE your reviews. Thank you so much for the information on this. I had it in my cart! Also – the cow!!! Your art always looks so effortless.

  4. OMG. This is *exactly* what I need. I haven’t even been looking for it.

    I have two vintage round wooden gilt frames that I have been dying to paint something to go in, but have been too lazy to measure and then have to cut regular watercolor paper to fit. This block will fit my frames exactly.

    Now I have to get a block and start painting to see what will look best.

    Thank you so much for this review and all the rest. I wouldn’t know about all of these new products if not for these reviews.

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