View Full Version : Frustrated and Discouraged

Diana Moon
04-03-2013, 06:42 PM
After drawing for several years, trying oils and not liking it, I got it in my mind to try watercolor.

Here is what I should have done.

I should have bought Gatorboard, a heavy duty stapler, 6 or 7 top of the line watercolors, some good paper, and three good brushes, and started painting.

But I didn't do that. I bought dry pigments, dry gum arabic, plasticizer, and distilled water. Luckily for me I didn't buy a muller, because that would have been another bundle of cash down the drain.

I learned that companies charge top dollar for their products is because they really do know a thing about making paints that I don't.

I bought plywood from a local vendor, and gummed paper tape, to stretch the paper. It created a huge mess. The paper tape did not come off the plywood. I can and did cut it off the watercolor I painted, but the plywood is now unsellable because of the bits and pieces of gummed tape still stuck to it. I hope I can use it for stretching further watercolors (by stapling). Yes, I'll buy the stapler, and if anyone has recommendations, I'd appreciate it greatly.

I bought cheap brushes, mostly rounds, that I'll never use, because I discovered I don't like rounds. Oh well, chalk that up to experience.

I feel as if I might as well have ripped up $200. I'll stick with it but I feel bummed. I did a ton of research and I feel annoyed that no one ever said, "don't try to mix your own pigments." And that no one ever warned about what a mess gummed tape makes. Oh well.

Avena Cash
04-03-2013, 06:59 PM
I wouldn't experiment in a new medium by starting with mixing my own paint either. But when I did watercolors I used gummed tape (on a gator-board type of board) and would do it again (yes, paintings would be cut off).

When I used the tape, I sponged it to wet it and ALSO used Elmer's glue on it. You need some space for messiness but you can get it under control. The paper really is beautifully smooth when you get the hang of it but I did dislike the hassle.

Many watercolorists do not stretch the paper, which depends on size and type of painting style. I personally would not use staples. As far as the rest, keeping it simple allows you to focus on the experiment and upon the image and aesthetics so it's a good idea.

I have tried so many many things over the years and almost everything has been set aside. So many false starts and weird experiments back there. Everything is a learning experience, with money and time down the drain. So sorry you feel down about it! I have too. I'd say just start now with buying the materials you really want now that you've learned a little more.

04-03-2013, 07:17 PM
I use the brown tape and staples when stretching but i paint big (often bigger than full sheet) and the tension with just the tape is huge so the staples are my added safety guard. It provides a smooth surface to work on and is really useful if you work a lot wet on wet. if you work mostly wet on dry its not so crucial to stretch. The tape will come off afterwards. It just takes time and patience to peel it off once you have cut out your painting.

Re materials. Its very hard when you first start out. I'm sure most of us have made mistakes buying supplies. Everyone is an individual so we all like different brushes, paper etc. But yes you need to get artist grade paper and paints (you dont need many colours) and you can use cheap brushes.


04-03-2013, 07:39 PM
Put the pigments up for sale on eBay so you don't feel like you lost everything. Or just put them aside for a day when you feel rich and adventurous.

I use the blue painter's tape for holding my papers to a sheet of tile board. I've never ripped a painting yet. The tape is expensive but can be reused several times before it stops sticking.

Otherwise, I think you're right: a few good watercolors, a couple of good brushes, and the best paper you can afford.

04-03-2013, 08:19 PM
Oh, it does look like you started out the hard way! Consider that you have learned a lot about materials at least. $200 is not bad for the hands-on experience of raw materials.

I've never used gummed paper tape, but when my old professor demonstrated how to do it, he used a metal scraper to remove the stuck tape from the board afterwards. It looked like such a laborious messy process, I decided I was never going to do that! Some people are fine with it though, not much different from scrubbing down a roasting pan after making a roast. I simply don't stretch my paper at all.

The thing is, if you had waited and researched until you knew exactly the right stuff to buy, you might still be waiting and researching. Yes, it's a good idea to do some research before diving in and buying supplies, but you won't really know what's right for you until you take a risk and start somewhere.

You still have good supplies. You can sell or donate your pigments and gum arabic, or save them for a day when you feel like playing chemistry lab. I hope you have made some usable paint for your trouble. I make some of my own watercolors, though I use pre-made gum arabic solution, and I used tube color for a year or so before I bought pigments.

virgil carter
04-03-2013, 09:25 PM
Well, you're in the right place now, with all of us who have been (and continue to be) frustrated from time to time. It's a friendly group here who are willing to share and discuss almost anything to do with watercolor and a lot of things having nothing to do with watercolor whatsoever! Pretty great!

A word or several about watercolor paper:

I'm one of those who believe artist-grade, all cotton fiber watercolor paper is the single most important investment to be made in watercolor;
Weight of paper is very important, ie, 90 lb paper almost always has to be stretched by early painters; 140 lb paper is usually advisable to stretch since early painters inherently use too much water in their paint-water ratios; over 140 lb paper (200 lb and 300 lb), while more expensive does not need stretching or taping--a bulldog clip in each corner mounted to a piece of foam core board will suffice
Surface textures vary by manufacturer, but starting with cold press or NOT, is usually a good idea. Hot press is for experienced painters, and even then not a universal favorite.
Best prices for paper are usually found by buying in bulk from Internet art retailers, especially when they announce sales and/or reductions in shipping expense. Get on the email list of several of the well known Internet art retailers.Brushes and paints are obviously important, but if you stick with artist-grade paints, and good quality synthetic fiber brushes, both from reputable manufacturers, everything begins to fall in place over time.

Good luck and happy painting!

Sling paint,

04-03-2013, 09:41 PM
We are in the wrong path here... Do you consume watercolour staples or do you use them tp create?
I learned WC with an artist who never used anything but 90lbs, and his work now commands 10k$ and even 25K$ per painting.... What is wrong with this picture? Did Sargent ever used Windsor and Newton or Arches paper?
Spend like a Millionaire and live like an impoverished artist!... Is this what we are all striving for?
Everybody wants to sell their ware and are telling you that if you buy their stuff, your art will be better... This is the start of the Frustrated portion of your statement.... Discouraged, well get over it!

It could be worst, you could be experimenting with acrylics!

04-03-2013, 10:10 PM
I use wide masking tape or blue painters tape (from a hardware store - the type used to protect your woodwork when painting walls). I prefer the blue because it is gentle on the paper but some people feel the blue is distracting when they are trying to mix colors. It has never bothered me. Regular masking tape also works fine, but it has to be removed a little more gently. I like a nice wide tape so I can have an inch border around the paper and up to two inches holding onto the board. I really like when I remove the tape and my finished painting has a clean white border.

My board is Masonite I think. i bought it at Home Depot. It's thin pressed wood fiber - shiney smooth on one side and rough/textured on the other. It's not very expensive. I occasionally just tape directly to my table, too.

As for paints...you can really get by with just a few. If you have the three primaries you really can mix so many colors!

Brushes are a matter of preference and practice. As a beginner I bought a few rounds. Eventually I attended workshops where the teacher used flat brushes only. So I bought some from him and stopped using the rounds completely. A few years later, I began to admire a looser style and switched to a big mop brush like some famous artists use. Each new brush style and size takes practice to get the hang of and they really do behave differently and create different effects. It would have been overwhelming to me to have them all in the beginning. The hardest part of watercolors is learning to manage the water to paint ratios....you can do that with any type of brush. Once you have that down, you can experiment with other brushes.

Truthfully, I think you can get away with cheap supplies and with minimal equipment....except for the paper. Good paper, and heavier paper (I love 300 lb) makes a HUGE difference in how the paint behaves. It's worth the expense.

Watercolors can be difficult in the beginning! But I think the process is easy...ie no chemicals for clean up, nothing to mix into the paints, you can use a hair dryer to speed up drying, you can re-wet your paints if they dry out, no bulky canvases to store, etc. you don't need alot to get started.

We all get frustrated from time to time!

Diana Moon
04-03-2013, 10:17 PM
Thanks everyone. I think the thing that set me over the edge was yesterday, buying the plywood, doing the gummed tape thing, and then not being able to scrape off the remnants of the tape from the plywood, (which is already a little warped - the lumber company said it wouldn't warp, ha ha).

I'm using 140 lb. and yes I have to stretch it because I do work wet but I don't think it's because I'm a beginner, it's just my style.

Sure, I'll get over it. I'll move on. But every step of the way I've done the wrong thing, even before attempting the formidable challenges of the medium itself. And there is so much BAD information out there, I'm annoyed. Some website said that getting the tape off the board was easy, just sponge it off. NOT.

Yes, I was nuts to think I could mix my own pigments. But again, that was based on something I read on the 'net - no names - where the guy said you could buy, for the price of one 100 gram jar of ultramarine blue, a "lifetime supply" of paint. The idea was so irresistible, I jumped at it. (Not Handprint. Someone else.)

Oh well, live and learn.

Diana Moon
04-03-2013, 10:28 PM
Amy, Does the blue painter's tape come off the board cleanly? And what about the paper? Do you cut it off, or does it come off with not too much effort? Thanks!

04-04-2013, 12:01 AM
Diana it comes right off both paper and board, without cutting and its never torn my paper. It's made to be easily removed from wall trim, etc. like I said some people will tell you the blue will affect your color choices in the painting and won't use it. It doesn't bother me.

Plain ol' masking tape (a nice wide roll) works well too. I have to remove it from my paper a little bit more carefully because a quick pull of it could tear the paper. But it's rare that that has happened.

You want to tape the paper down around all 4 edges when it's dry. Then wet it the paper and let it dry flat. Because I use a heavier paper I don't pre-wet at all. I just start painting and if it warps the tape holds it to dry flat. If you are using alot of water and the paper is really stretching, you may have to occasionally run your hand along the tape to re-secure it a bit. Leave the tape on until your painting is completely finished and dry.

04-04-2013, 01:03 AM
Don't get too down about feeling like you wasted money - a lot of us have encountered some version of that, and it's all too easy to do with watercolor supplies. Sometimes the only way we learn we're on the wrong path is by going on it.

04-04-2013, 01:30 AM
If you feel the blue color of the low-tack tape bothers you, there's a clear version I tried from Art Supply Warehouse that is almost as good. It sticks a little more firmly, and is a tiny bit dicier to remove. But sometimes paint does bleed under the blue version, which almost never happens with the clear.

I don't like the clear quite as well because it is harder to remove, costs more per roll, and can't be reused the way the blue stuff can.

Diana Moon
04-04-2013, 07:28 AM
The blue color won't bother me.

Amy, I don't understand this: "You want to tape the paper down around all 4 edges when it's dry. Then wet it the paper and let it dry flat."

My understanding of the process is that the paper is submerged in water (in a tub or basin), and smoothed out the board to iron out any possible crinkles, and taped - while still wet.

The way you describe it, you put the paper on the board and dunk the whole thing in water. Or, do you mean that you wet the paper with a spray bottle? I personally do not think that wetting paper with a spray bottle is sufficient. I think it needs to be thoroughly soaked - which brings up the issue of taping paper while wet.

A spray bottle I have. This was $1.49 that wasn't wasted.

Sponges, too.

(It's the dry pigment that really hurts. If there are any other newby painters out there - do NOT try to mix paints from dry pigments, or even pigments in aqueous solutions when you start out. Wait a while, after you've gotten a few other things nailed down. Begin with the professional stuff. These guys know what they are doing, you don't. Everything else in painting, watercolor especially, is tough enough. Don't add another layer of difficulty to the process by trying to mix your own, unless you have money to burn.)

Diana Moon
04-04-2013, 07:33 AM
PS To Amy - I wish I had asked you before I bought the stupid plywood and messy gummed tape. There is a Home Depot nearby me that carried blue tape and masonite for cheaper than I bought the plywood and gummed tape.

04-04-2013, 07:35 AM
(((Diana))) I suggest you read the Top20 FAQ and Handbook links in my signature for help with the basic techniques.


Diana Moon
04-04-2013, 08:32 AM

I looked at your FAQs and I really have to say this. The part about taping paper is bad information.


He recommends using gummed paper tape. I spent $8 on a large roll of it and it was $8 wasted. It created a mess, and stuck to the plywood board. Sponging it, scraping it, didn't work. I even tried SANDING it with a power tool, that tape didn't come off. I will take the board to a local store, cut it into smaller pieces, gesso it and use it for gouache, but it is now useless for its original intended purpose.

This is exactly an example of the bad, confusing information I referred to in my original post. Very frustrating for a newcomer to deal with.

Wetcanvas is a free forum where artists can share their true experiences. This was mine. Perhaps the person who wrote that didn't use a plywood board. Perhaps the board was masonite or something else? Then he should say so.

04-04-2013, 08:33 AM
Hi Diana,

Despite making some of the watercolours that I use I agree with everyone who said that you should have bought ready made paints to start with a new medium. With time, just like me, you would have considered buying powder pigments to make your own paints for various reasons like saving money. By the way I use a pre-made binding medium to mix with the powder pigments.

Watercolour is not an easy medium and after a few years I am still struggling with it.

Diana Moon
04-04-2013, 08:49 AM
With respect, Rui, I already said that I regretted doing this. Your comment was not helpful.

04-04-2013, 10:27 AM
The trick to remove paper tape from plywood is water and time. Put a really wet rag on the tape, leave it for at least an hour, pull off what you can and if necessary repeat the process.

Diana Moon
04-04-2013, 11:20 AM
Thank you, I will try that. I still have some bits & pieces left to remove. But in future I'll use the blue tape.

04-04-2013, 12:03 PM
I'm glad you found new supplies! Painters tape won't stick to wet paper.

I have NEVER soaked a paper in a tub of water. 25 years ago in high school, we used to tape it down dry and then use a wet sponge to soak it and let it dry. The paper would wrinkle and warp and then dry flat eventually. This wasted an entire class period which we loved!!

As an adult I've taken several different workshops in which the artist just immediately begins painting on dry paper. It works perfectly fine and I've more or less been told the soaking is an "old fashioned" idea. (As soon as I say that, someone else will have a legitimate reason for soaking! There's a million "right" ways to do everything! But in MY experience, I have found no problems what so ever when I don't soak the paper.)

If using a heavy paper (300 lb) there is very little wrinkling when painting because the paper can hold alot of water. A lighter paper (140 lb) will definitely wrinkle and warp when it gets wet with painting if you didn't pre-stretch. You CAN paint on it without pre-stretching, but there will likely be peaks and valleys that may cause your paint to pool in some areas which might become very frustrating. If its taped it will still dry flat, but if water and paint have truly pooled before it dried it will probably be visible with a drying line. So for that lighter paper I do recommend taping it when dry and then wetting it completely with a clean brush, spray bottle, sponge etc. and letting it dry before you begin your painting. once the water soaks in, you can speed the drying with a hairdryer. Keep it taped for the duration of the painting and when you are done it will be nice and flat!

04-04-2013, 01:16 PM
Amy said, ". . . So for that lighter [140 lb] paper I do recommend taping it when dry and then wetting it completely with a clean brush, spray bottle, sponge etc. and letting it dry before you begin your painting. once the water soaks in, you can speed the drying with a hairdryer. Keep it taped for the duration of the painting and when you are done it will be nice and flat!"

If you are using smaller pieces of paper (say, quarter sheets or smaller) and don't feel you need absolutely sopping wet paper, you probably don't need to tape at all, unless you'd like the appearance of a clean white border on your finished piece (which will be hidden by the matting when framed, anyway).

AND, if it isn't perfectly flat after drying, you can simply turn it over and iron the back! Works perfectly, and does no damage!


04-04-2013, 01:21 PM
I often use plywood and gummed tape. But you need to varnish the plywood first. However, if you didn't do that then just wipe over the tape with a damp sponge and you will be able to remove it from the board.

04-04-2013, 01:23 PM
If you can afford it try some Saunders Waterford 200lb paper. This is stiff and does not need stretching. All I do is put a staple either side into the Gatorboard backing.


04-04-2013, 01:47 PM
My understanding of the process is that the paper is submerged in water (in a tub or basin), and smoothed out the board to iron out any possible crinkles, and taped - while still wet.

I can't speak for Amy, but that has NEVER worked for me. I've ruined several expensive sheets of paper trying.

I take the dry sheet, measure in about 1/2" from the edge, and draw a faint line. Put it on my tile board, and run the tape along the edge, so there's another 1/2" or so of tape on the board itself. Next time I plan to buy wider tape, so there's more on the board, but the 1/2" has always been enough.

Tape it down firmly, make my drawing, then wet the paper with a big, wide brush.

04-04-2013, 03:47 PM
Diana don't throw in the towel, There are many who have walked the same path you're on.
As far as tape goes I have even experienced the blue painters tape coming loose from WC paper if you over wet and let the water linger too long. Recently I've purchased a roll of what is called Frog Tape, it's green masking tape and it will not come loose after applied, even when the paper around it is soaked. I've never left it on over a weeks time. It needs to be carefully removed but will release completely.

On backer board: Some time ago I bought a couple of blank pieces of dry-erase board from Home Depot (masonite with a white smooth coating on one side) I think they were 6 bucks a piece. It works wonderfully as a backer and is water proof on the white side. Paint can also be mixed on it and it will wipe right off after use. It was a good find for me.


04-04-2013, 04:14 PM
Diana - I used to soak & stretch my paper, even taped dry paper and then wet with a sponge.

Now I take the easy way out and use watercolor blocks - just about all major brands offer them in several sizes. If you are not using a full sheet or even a half-sheet, then it makes it very easy. I have several different blocks of water color paper and can move from project to project.

Give it a try and see how you like it!

Diana Moon
04-04-2013, 04:24 PM
I thought of the watercolor blocks and I just might end up going there, but I was put off by the expense of buying several at a time.

Regarding 200 lb paper, I researched this. They are difficult to get in the US. I'm not going to retrace my steps but as I remember there were very few sources.

Regarding varnishing the plywood...oh dear. I mean, really, isn't there a limit?

Strawberry Wine
04-04-2013, 07:14 PM

Try Dick Blicks or Jerrys Artarama online for the Saunders Waterford 200 lb. paper... I am certain it will solve all your issues.


04-04-2013, 07:48 PM
On backer board: Some time ago I bought a couple of blank pieces of dry-erase board from Home Depot (masonite with a white smooth coating on one side) I think they were 6 bucks a piece.

That sounds like what I have! Mine was a gift from my father, who bought it and cut it for me to the perfect sizes for w/c papers. So I can have two or three paintings of different sizes all taped to different boards at once. I don't do that much painting...but I can, if I want to. :)

I love it.

04-06-2013, 02:12 AM
Sorry you're unhappy so far...But please be patient, and think of it as a good learning experience. Keep the pigments, as you may find a use for them someday, or be able to sell or gift them. You may yet be pleased that you have them handy. :)

I know there's lots of conflicting info out there. I did lots of reading myself a couple of years ago to figure out what to get! And like you, did lots of fretting about what to buy and how to stetch my paper because I thought I HAD to stetch it.
I bought two(!) giant rolls of gummed tape and masonite. Used the tape once. Never again!
I wish I had read sooner that you don't need to stretch paper to learn...

But you do need some backing for your paper, and this is what I have read:
The masonite finish eventually comes off, mine did. Then it swells and gets lumpy.
The plywood is acidic and will discolour your paintings. Hence the varnishing. And its heavy!
Gatorboard sounds fantastic, wish I could get some, but I read it can't be shipped across the border to Canada. Meh.
Blocks will buckle still if you use lots of water. I don't use mine because I kept putting my fingers on the painting because its trickier to grip it to tilt or turn it. Messy.

So I use plexiglass (I had a bunch left over from an animal cage project). I cut it up into smaller pieces to have a couple of paintings going at one time. Its light, easy to clean and impervious to water.

*This is another thing I wish I was warned about--you do lots of waiting with watercolour. So having at least two paintings on the go is better or you will be bored, and end up picking up a book or computer, and forget all about painting for the day*

Divide up your sheets into eighths, or sixteenths. Do LOTS of little paintings. These don't need stretching or stapling. Just masking tape and your square of plexi. And you can have LOTS of fun! (You owe it to yourself after all the money you spent so far, lol)
Make all your little painting lessons. Practice just skies, or rocks, or leaves. (Or hands, eyes, or bottles) Let yourself learn to paint and enjoy it. Use both sides of your papers and really get your money's worth!

After six months or a year, you can tackle bigger paintings, and rethink if you need professionally mounted drum tight stretched surfaces. You certainly don't need these to start learning watercolours! And many who are professionals don't bother with stretching or stapling, ever.
Look up Jack Reid, he used cheap foamcore and a couple of clips and produced beautiful work.

*I have also found not all masking tape is equal. I tried the green and blue, those don't stick well. I tried a hardware store brand, and it sticks but not after 24 hours. Grrrr. Good old 'Duck' brand masking holds perfect for me!
(So be prepared to try a couple before you decide if you like tape or not.)

The sooner you get painting, the happier you'll be! Have fun!

04-06-2013, 02:54 AM
I bought my Gatorboard at Curry's in Hamilton, Ontario. I bought a full sheet size and cut it into a half sheet and two quarter sheets approximately to get them in my suitcase for the flight home.

I strongly recommend you try get some, it is light, rigid, and takes staples very easily and they are easy to remove with a knife.


04-06-2013, 09:50 AM
Wow really?

:) :) :)

Thanks Doug!

Lawrence Fox
04-06-2013, 11:29 AM

Here's the link (https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm?Category=A041B000829&Source=Search) to Curry's listing for Gator Foamboards

Interestingly, the website says you can't order it online from Curry's any more, but must go to the retail stores for it, so I'd call your local store first to see if it's in stock. (I sometimes find that Curry's stocking is somewhat uh, capricious <g>).


virgil carter
04-06-2013, 11:51 AM
Blocks may be a convenience, particularly if traveling or working outdoors, but do have some liabilities as well, including:

--Often more expensive than buying full size sheets and cutting to the desired modular size (half, quarter-sheet, etc.);
--When painting very wet the blocks may often separate an buckle;
--One can only work on one painting at a time on a given block, since the other sheets of paper cannot be accessed until the top sheet is removed.

Blocks are really not a good substitution for stretching one's paper.

If one doesn't like stretching (and I don't), the simply solution is heavier paper (200 to 300 lb weight). Or painting very dry on lighter paper. Or simply ignoring the paper curls by increasing the angle of the lightweight paper to nearly vertical to minimize the effect of the curls.

sling paint,

Avena Cash
04-06-2013, 02:15 PM
When I cut off paintings, I just left the remaining tape on the board and put the new tape over it. When it's stretched it's not laying against the surface because it gets raised up anyway. It doesn't cause any harm to let the layers build up. After a while you can peel some of it off so it's not super-thick.

My paper was soaked first FWIW. But instead of submerged I used large sponges to wet it heavily from both sides before taping. I don't think the paper stretches taut if you wet it after taping but I don't have experience with that.

ETA we did not varnish our boards but we coated them with spray poly to make the surface more waterproof.

04-06-2013, 09:01 PM
Wallachs Art and Drafting in Ottawa also carries gator board. Strange that it seems not to be ship able.

Diana Moon
04-06-2013, 09:59 PM

I did the gatorboard research project (don't ask) and found that the best option was Dick Blick in NYC (where I live). I should have gotten the 1/2" 24x36 for $20...but as they say "woulda shoulda coulda."

I've kind of gotten over my frustration & disappointment. I realize that when you start something new you should expect false starts. I just boiled over after the misadventure with the plywood and the gummed tape. I felt, "why did I just stand outside and rip up $18 for the fun of it? Or have a drink? ($18 will get you one drink and a tip where I live.)

I'll keep the pigments. One day I'll use them. In fact I'm using them now, although I'm not sure whether they are "right" or not.

04-07-2013, 06:40 AM
I know I am coming to this discussion late but would like to say that I have found no need to take the brown tape off the plywood boards.I tape the next piece of watercolour paper down with the tape going over the remains of the last efforts.In time what happens is that there is a build up and at a certain point loads of the previously stuck tape will come off in one go.There will always be the remnants of tape left stuck to the board but it doesn't interfere with the proceedings and that has been going on for two years now

Diana Moon
04-07-2013, 09:17 AM
It occurred to me that I shouldn't get compulsive about that particular aspect of the process. So what if remnants of tape stick to the board? Not a big deal in the larger scheme of things....even so I've decided to go the masonite or gatorboard route.

Lawrence Fox
04-07-2013, 10:36 AM
I know we've strayed a bit beyond Diana's original posting, but to follow up on Virgil's -- I recently checked out and compared full sheets vs blocks here in the Toronto area.

The 12x16 Arches range (per sheet) in price from $2.25 to $2.73.
The 14x20 blocks ranged (per sheet) between $3.24 to $3.53.

Full sheets ranged from 5.95 to 7.49, which means that quarter sheets range from $1.49 to $1.87.

So yes, getting full sheets and cutting them down to size is still your most economical way to go.

As for stretching, well, to be honest, I stopped doing that ages ago, even thought I use #140 paper most of the time. I guess that when I'm in the mood to paint, I want to just get to it! :)

Brian Barnes
04-07-2013, 04:35 PM
Most of the time I just staple dry Arches 140 lb CP paper to a board, tape over the staples with cheap masking tape to make a half inch border, and start painting.

If I want to work wet in wet for a long period, I dampen the paper all over on one side first using a sponge or brush, let it sit for 10 minutes till it relaxes completely, and then staple it down flat with staples about an inch apart and a quarter inch in from the edge all around. (If you staple too soon it will stretch out even more between the staples and you'll have to remove them and start over.)

Stapling to wood is a pain because the staples are difficult to remove without harming the paper.

The board I staple to is cheap, light, waterproof, and easy to clean. It's corrugated plastic ... the type used for outdoor signs ... and is found at hardware or stationery stores. Masking tape sticks nicely to it and comes off easily.

To accomodate staples, two thicknesses are required. Otherwise it is too thin for the staple length.
Cut two pieces the same size ... but with corrugation going at 90 degrees to each other ... and glue them together. This cross-direction of the corrugation will give a very rigid board capable of withstanding the very tight pull that occurs when the wet paper eventually shrinks as tight as a drum (literally). It will also provide enough thickness to hold staples from an ordinary cheap paper stapler. And ... there's no need to hammer the stapler to get the staples flat. I'd advise taping around the edge of the board you've created to prevent cutting your hands on the sharp edges.

When it's time to remove the staples it is easily done with a thin metal palette knife. These boards will last for a lot of paintings and a lot of years ... till they eventually die from a million staple holes. :D