How do I stretch watercolour paper? and why?

How do I stretch watercolour paper? and why?

If you dont stretch your watercolour paper, you will be unable to carry out washes without the paper buckling or "cockling". If it buckles it can make it quite hard to paint lines correctly and framing afterwards can be quite difficult without gaps being visible at the edges of the mount.

First of all make sure that you are using a high quality paper, preferable 300gsm (140 lb). A thin cheap paper may be very hard to work with if you are going to get it wet.

if you look at this image of the motorbike, I soaked it with copious amounts of water and paint and let it run down and move across the paper. A cheap or thin paper would have "cauliflowers" all over it.

work on a hard surface, such as a smooth piece of plywood or tape the paper edges directly to a desk if you have a tilting type art desk.

Here I have taped the edges, leaving a thin even line around the paper which will act as a natural border which will remain white after the painting is finished.

The tape to use is a good quality decorators masking tape, although be careful that some may be too sticky and remove the surface of the paper when removing after the painting has finished.

When removing the tape, ensure that you pull the tape away from your painting never towards, I had a couple tear the surface of the painting off across the middle!

Also never remove the tape until the paper is completely dry.

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