The reason for stretching paper is to avoid buckling or ‘cockling’, which will occur if the paper has not been pre stretched and cause the paper to warp when you apply wet paint. Thick watercolour paper or cartridge paper can be stretched but be aware the more heavyweight the paper the longer you will need to soak it.
Once stretched you can either wait for the paper to fully dry or start painting straight away depending on the effect you wish to create..
You will need:
- Gummed paper
- a board, a bit larger than your intended paper
- a sponge or large brush
- Drawing pins or a staple gun
First soak your paper, a bath or large clean sink is ideal for this, or you can load up the paper with water on your board using a sponge (making sure to wet both sides if you are using a sponge). Cartridge paper only needs to be soaked for 5 minutes or so, larger watercolour paper could need up to half an hour.
Then, smoothing out any air bubbles, tape down one
side of your paper then smooth the paper, using the palm of your hand, towards
the opposite side and tape it with the wet gum paper (b).
Repeat this process with the other two edges before pinning or stapling the corners through the paper and gum tape (d). This will hold the paper down as it dries and stretches it. Always dry the paper horizontally, if you dry it vertically all the moisture will sink to the bottom and stretch unevenly.
You can apply wet into wet washes straightaway, but you should wait for the paper to dry before applying any detail because it will act like blotting paper at this stage.
You could also prime the paper to prepare it for oil painting. (more about priming in a future posts)