View Full Version : Stretching paper

11-06-2002, 08:28 AM
Hi Everyone,

Not too sure if I'm posting this in the right forum but hey, I usually hang out in here with you folk and I'm trying to solve a problem with my pastels.

As most of you know I go for detailed stuff and it's pretty annoying for the most part to see the colour of the paper come through in areas where it shouldn't be. So I'm going to give underpainting a try to solve this problem as has been done in many threads here in the past (I think Djstar did quite a few).

I also hate "wrinkles" or "warps" in my paper so I've been told that I should stretch my paper first, do the underpainting (which won't warp if the paper's been pre-stretched . .so I'm told) and then do pastels over the top. Firstly, is what I've been told true???

OK . . I have never stretched paper before and tried tonight for the first time. I think it worked but want to make sure. I used Stonehenge 245gsm (bit lighter than normal watercolour papers), layed it out flat on a piece of masonite. Got a sponge and wet down my paper. I was given some pre-pasted tape (which gets sticky when you wet it . . bit like pre-pasted wllpaper I guess) to tape down the edges whilst the paper dried. Bit of a problem here . . . when I wet down my paper, the wrinkles started appearing before I had chance to put the tape down . . so I taped the warped edges as best I could but it didn't "feel" as though I was doing it correctly.

Anyway I was told that this is common and if I let it dry it would come back as tight as a drum . . well . . pleased to say it worked. Fluke???? dunno

Anyone got pointers about stretching paper??
Is Stonehenge 245gsm too light or should I go to a hot pressed watercolour paper (hot pressed coz I need smooth paper for detailed stuff)??

Any hints???


11-06-2002, 09:46 AM
Please don't worry . folks over in watercolor forum pointed to some threads in "search" . . d'oh why didn't I think of that first!! :rolleyes:

Pleased to say I just about got it right :)

11-06-2002, 12:52 PM
Hey CB, this is where I usually point folks.. maybe you've already been there done that but here 'tis anyway....

Stretching Watercolor Paper Link (http://artcafe.net/artcenter/studio/feat7d.htm)


Chook :D

11-07-2002, 04:57 AM
I looked at the thread for stretching paper, and will voice just one word of dissent.

If you soak pastel paper for 30 minutes, it will probably dissolve!! Watercolour paper is sized, and can stand soaking; pastel paper will not.

You did right to simply wet the paper. A good tip is to also wet the board (just damp - not puddles)- and then take your paper by the top edge, let the bottom edge touch the wet board, and ROLL it down onto the board, with the wet side, against the wet board. This should help to eliminate air bubbles. If there are one or two left, they will probably flatten out as the paper dries.

As for the use of staples ... just imagine getting those darn staples out!! When I worked with watercolours, which I did, a lot, I used to use brown parcel tape, the kind you wet, and at the end of fixing this, I would put drawing pins (dont know if that is what you call them in the US - they look like tiny coloured mushrooms, with flat plastic tops) in each corner, and one or two down the sides. These can be pulled out easily at the end of a painting session, and they are only there in case the wet watercolour paper pulls out from under the wet tape .

So I really do not advise that you use staples, particularly for pastel paper - you simply do not need them anyway, because you are only wetting one side of the paper, amd the sticky tape will adhere really well to the dry side.


11-07-2002, 08:10 AM
Arches Hot or Cold Pressed Watercolor Blocks> they are already stretched and come in blocks (pads) of paper. You can buy them in a variety of sizes. Hot is smooth, Cold has a Texture/tooth to it.

I prefer the Cold Press, with texture because once you apply watercolor the grain will lessen , but you need some to hold pastels.

I love working with the Arches Blocks vs Stretching, because I can start working right away. No mess, and ready to go!
Once done and Picture is dry, You just peel Picture off of block and its Flat and ready to frame.
All the paper is pretreated and Acid-free!100% Cotton! Arches is not only Acid free, but is temperature treated to prevent yellowing and deteriation.

My last Pastel I did for the Halloween Project was done on 14x20 Cold Press Arches Block 140 pd, and the Pastels went on very smooth. I was very impressed at how easy it was to work on:D

Note: Any time you add water to paper you change the density and the color. This means that after time that paper will Yellow!! Which changes the whole life of any picture.
I have worked on Watercolor paper for years and the pics I did 10 yrs ago are now yellow and brittle, because the paper wasnt properly treated. The paper wasnt cheap either, but once it is stretched it changes in value and quality instantly.
Majority of Water Color paper is thin, once stretched and painted it will become parchment. Thats why its important to check density. Just Another reason why I prefer the Arches, its a very heavy paper that will withstand many medias and hold quality thru a lifetime.

11-07-2002, 09:11 AM
Thanks for the tips guys.

Jackie, I was using Stonehenge 245gsm (I don't use Canson) and it seemed to work . .I used that tape that sticks when you wet it . .it's very good. . .no staples!!

Redsy, . . never heard of that . . shows how ignorant/new I am to all this. . . . I'm learning here . . will give it a try . . don't want my artwork turning yellow!!

Thanks again

11-07-2002, 09:36 AM
What a great thread. :) My art teacher told me that I could only use WC paper for stretching. Then, she was a drinker! Thanks guys

11-07-2002, 01:49 PM
Well, I have to say that the comment about yellowing really surprises me. I taught watercolours years ago, and worked constantly with watercolours then, always stretching my paper - usually Bockingford 90lb then for economy's sake - and I am talking 20 years+ here - and I still have some of those early images, and no way has the paper yellowed, thinned or changed at all.

I recognise that there would be problems if you left the painting hanging about in direct light - that's why so many museums keep old watercolours in dimmed rooms - but my old pics are still okay, so goodness knows what has happened to yours!

And .... I beg to differ about the watercolour paper in blocks. I have tested several makes, including Arches, and they WILL buckle, if you flood them with watercolour washes, which means they are not stretched. They are simply secured at the edges, which will keep them nice and flat provided you do not work with too much splashing about. The weight makes no difference when a piece of paper is stretched - you can throw buckets of water on the thinnest watercolour paper and it will not buckle. If, on the other hand, you are working on VERY heavy Arches paper, there is no need to stretch it, because its thickness and weight is sufficient to absorb loads of water without buckling.

I am most confused about the yellowing paper, and think I might ask the folks here in the UK who make high quality watercolour paper, about this.


11-07-2002, 03:45 PM
Not to much to be confused with...
The paper I used Yrs ago was supplied thru the schools, so Maybe that would lessen its quality.
The Pictures were by no means placed in a Museum....LOL In fact I doubt anyone would want them!! Therefore they were not framed and stored in the best of conditions.
I have only had one very Humble experiences that allowed A picture of mine to grace the likes of High society!!! And that was when I was 18! I had the honor of the being one in 35 to travel the states with a special Governors Show. I competed with over 3 thousand participants and was very surprised that I was selected.
Also note that using only watercolor makes a HUGE difference, back then I worked in Mix Medias. Never did I just dapple in watercolor, it was always three or four different medias. So maybe thats what added to my "yellowing"! Maybe I can find some of those old Paintings and post them to show what exactly I speak on.
Now I have never taught or made watercolor paper, all I can tell is of my own pros and cons from past experience. I assume that paper is like everything else in the art world...its a matter of personal taste.
The best thing I would recommend is to just play around and see what works for you.
But then again I am only a wanna-be!!!:D:D


11-08-2002, 06:39 AM
God, don't you hate it when you type a great long thing and then touch a key by mistake and the whole post disappears. This has happened twice this morning.

If your paper was untreated, ie it didn't have a coat of size, it would yellow. That is the clue here. Otherwise, all watercolours would darken and spoil, because you are working with pigment suspended in... water!!

CB you will have no probs, because you are pastelling over the top. Pastels are almost pure pigment, and do not darken or fade.

Just a little suggestion ... why not try working with washes of GOUACHE before starting with pastels. Gouache is watercolour with chalk in it, and because it is opaque, it will give a great colour covering. The pastels works really well over the top, far better than over acrylics, for instance, which are shiny and plastic.


11-08-2002, 09:23 AM
Hi Crumbie,
I also watercolor it was my first love... I have found when I do an under painting in watercolor for a pastel...I don't need to wet the paper much to cause it to wrinkle....but if it does you can always press it between glass and a heavy books or object to get the wrinkles out. I haven't streched watercolor paper as I have never needed to. That is just me. If you find that you like useing watercolor paper for your pastels and you want to know how to press them pm me and I will let you know how....I will love to know how you like working on watercolor paper for your style of painting....I am not sure you will like the affect. But happy painting....