Watercolor Painting…how I stretch my paper

Watercolor Painting…how I stretch my paper

In the past I have tried to teach my girls how to paint, but perhaps they were too small and their attention span too short, so it came pretty much to nothing. With my decision made to try and spend time painting again, they have suddenly decided that they want me to teach them (with no prompting by me, so this must be for real 😉 ). So I decided to stretch some small pieces of watercolor paper to let them use for practice.
Watercolor paper always has to be stretched if you are going to paint watercolor with lots and lots of detail, and if you are painting on Hot Pressed paper. The only paper I use is the Arches brand 300g/m2 Hot Pressed Paper, which is smooth and has a lovely size applied which helps to keep the fibres stable even with 20-30 overlay washes. This is the best stuff folks…if you haven’t used it, you are in for a treat…go out and buy some!

Over the years I have tried many brands of paints, but the best by far is the Schmincke watercolor. These are superb, and even when dried on a palette, will disperse immediately with a touch of water, with no plasticky bits in between. I use mostly the transparent colors, including Indian Yellow ( a warm yellow) , Aureolin Yellow (a cool yellow), Translucent Orange, Sap Green (a yellow green), Phthalo Green (a blue green), Phthalo Blue (a green blue), Ultramarine Blue Finest (a reddish blue), Alizaron Crimson (a blue red), Scarlett Red (a true red) and several other odds and ends…

I use mostly the Windsor and Newton Kolinsky Sable brushes, in various sizes…Kolinsky Sable is the best brush you can use for watercolor but costs a fortune per brush, so I buy all my brushes during the Herbert Evans Art Sales in August when they have a 40% discount 🙂
If you are starting out in watercolor, I would definitely not recommend buying such expensive items…rather get used to the medium before you commit big time.

I will show you how I stretch my paper…this is NOT the only way to do this…just the way I do it 🙂
I start with a plastic bucket, which I scrub super-clean and rinse thoroughly. I fill it with cold tap water.

Cut the paper to the size you want, making a tiny pencil mark on the correct side (yes, Arches Hot Pressed paper has a correct and an incorrect side : ) ), and carefully immerse completely in the water. I tend to soak the paper for about 20 minutes.

While it is soaking, prepare your wooden board. I cover the board with a good ‘ol fashioned rubbish bin bag (the one the council collects rubbish in 🙂 ), to prevent the water soaking into the wood. Make sure it is smooth and wrinkle-free…

I tape the paper down with water activated watercolor tape. Make sure that you pre-cut your strips, because if you get water on the roll, the whole thing is ruined!
Run each strip once through a jar of water, and place over the edge of the soaked paper (which is placed on the rubbish bag covered board)…make sure that the tape covers at least 3/4 of an inch of the watercolor paper. Do this on all sides…

While the paper is still wet, staple down the brown paper onto the board, all around…this secures the paper in place so it doesn’t re-shrink when drying…

Leave in a cool place out of the sun to dry…Voila! Stretched paper! Ready to paint 🙂

I need to catch up a lot of admin tonight , but hopefully we’ll start painting tomorrow…

What do you like to do as a hobby other than knitting and crochet? Do any of you paint?

Have a good afternoon,


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