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How to Stretch Watercolor Paper

How to stretch water color paper

You can buy handmade watercolor paper already mounted but don't confuse it with the cheaper illustration boards which are not as responsive. There are also many experienced artists who like to work with unmounted paper.

As a rule, however, it is more satisfactory to paint with watercolors on stretched or mounted paper as it eliminates buckling and gives the artist more control over his washes.

There are many methods of mounting and stretching paper and you may want to try several before deciding which suits you best.

The following are among the simplest and most practical.

For mounting, the paper selected should be of good quality, though not necessarily of heavy weight. First, it is dampened thoroughly with a sponge (or soaked in water) until limp.

Then it is pasted evenly all over the back with some water-soluble adhesive such as bookbinders' paste or diluted glue.

After this, it is laid, paste side down, on heavy mounting board which has been previously dampened.

Next, with a protective sheet of paper placed over it, it is rolled or brushed or scraped to force out air bubbles and promote uniform adhesion.

A photographer's squeegee is useful in this connection.

The whole is then weighted down where it can dry flat, perhaps between two drawing boards loaded with books.

Blotting paper is sometimes laid over the mounting board to hasten the drying process.

Leave it until thoroughly dry or the mount will buckle.

The simplest stretching process consists of pasting or tacking the edges of a wet sheet of paper to a wooden drawing board or stretching frame, causing the paper to shrink smooth and tight as it dries.

When stretching wet paper, be sure the frame is at least 2 inches smaller than the paper in both dimensions. The paper is tacked to the frame as shown here.

This sounds easy but takes something of a knack.

Be sure that the frame is at least two inches smaller than the paper in both length and width or the paper may work loose.... And don't remove the finished painting from the frame until it has dried for several hours or it may wrinkle badly.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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