Stretching Watercolor Paper

For my approach to watercolor I need absolutely flat paper, ripples from expanding wet paper are not acceptable.   When wet, watercolor paper expands mostly in one direction (about 3/4 inch in 36 inches) so if it has not been prestreched you get ripples as soon as your watercolor dampens the surface.  These really create havoc with obtaining nice smooth graded washes.  The secret to making a good stretched paper is to use a somewhat flexible substrate like 1/4-inch thick masonite.  Wet the WC paper thoroughly for about 5 to 10 minutes then lay it on the masonite.  Let it set for a few minutes while more ripples appear then pull them out and follow with gummed tape and stapling every 2 inches on the edges.  the tension developed as the paper dries will bow the masonite somewhat so that the dry paper becomes like a drum - taught and smooth.  When the paper is again wetted by the watercolor the bow in the board will flatten somewhat but still some tension will be retained on the paper - no ripples form though.  The key is that the board must be somewhat flexible so the spring of the material keeps tension on the paper whether wet or dry.  Using a very stiff board  or an old hollow core door only results in partial release of tension as the paper tears slightly at the staples.  With these substrates I generally had problems with ripples when painting wet with 140 lb paper.


Posted by: lknight
Posted on: 1/22/2009 at 8:28 PM
Categories: Tips
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Margarita Mexico

Monday, January 26, 2009 5:52 PM

Lou your new web site is wonderful, I love your Fantastic Art Work, and I'm in love with the paintings, also the tips are great, and I wish you are recognized as what you are  A GREAT MASTER ARTIST, Wishing you the best my dear friend
Margarita