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Good Evening,

Do I really have to pre-stretch my watercolor paper?

Lots of websites say yes.  The watercolor book I've had forever and ever doesn't mention it at all.  And the author of the watercolor book uses 140 lb paper like I do.

Thoughts?

Thanks.

--Cassie

#1 - August 04, 2012, 08:24 PM
If you don't try, you have no chance at all. - Carole King
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I use 140 lb HP Arches paper and I don't stretch it, but I also don't do heavy wet on wet washes, I use wet on dry and lots of transparent layering. When I've tried a wet on wet wash I do end up with ripples, I've heard you can iron the back but I've been afraid to try. 300 lb paper wouldn't require stretching at all, but I use a light box to transfer my sketches (carbon paper transfer doesn't work for me as I do a lot of detail), and it's very faint through the 300lb paper.

I'm too lazy and impatient to stretch watercolor paper, lol, and I don't like painting on a board!

hope this helps!

 
#2 - August 04, 2012, 09:15 PM
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 09:20 PM by Artemesia »
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I also use 140lb paper and I don't stretch mine. I do however use a good amount of tape on the outside of the paper to hold it down to my drawing board. If I get into some heavy washes the paper will sometimes bulge but when it drys it lays back down flat thanks to the tape. I also use a heat gun to dry my paintings very quickly and that seems to help keep the paper flat. (Note you have to move the heat gun around a lot. If you keep it in one place it will burn the paper. But it drys a lot faster than a hair dryer does.)
#3 - August 05, 2012, 04:56 AM

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 :hottub I soak my 140 pound before stretching it. I do a lot of heavy wet in wet washes and if I didn't stretch, the end result would be a wobbling mess of hills and valleys. I'm self taught but started painting from a fine art point of view where the final piece would be glazed behind glass and gallery hung. Flat was paramount.

The most important thing in the stretch or not to stretch position is whether the scans that result from the finals are nice and clean. After all, we are creating art for reproduction, so the scanning should be considered part of the process. If your unstretched images can be scanned without shadows, then by all means, don't stretch.

The other option is to use 300 pound paper which is too heavy to buckle in most instances. :artist1:
#4 - August 05, 2012, 07:51 AM
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Or you could just use illustration board. I know, maybe not helpful if you really like your watercolor paper. And you can't use it on a light box. But it doesn't warp. Just a thought! I hate stretching paper and always default to board when I'm using paint.
#5 - August 12, 2012, 12:11 PM

Thank you all for taking the time to explain your process.  I experimented with stretching this week and had pretty good results with soaking 140 lb paper and taping it down with blue painter's tape.  I can't find that brown tape that people seem to recommend.  I soaked the paper for 7 minutes or so and taped it down until I was done painting.  It didn't ripple at all. 

I would love to try painting on a block or on 300 lb paper, because I don't want to take the time to stretch my paper...but that's not in the budget until October.  These supplies are expensive just for the sake of experimenting.  A friend of mine let me borrow some tubes to see if I like them, but I find them harder to mix.  They were a nice brand, but still student grade.  I like control, and I seem to have more control with cakes.

Okay, now for a newbie question: How is illustration board different than bristol board?  I use bristol board for my colored pencils and when I have used watercolored pencils on the bristol board, it didn't like the water much.  I could only used a little before the surface of the paper turned ugly.  So what is illustration board?

Thanks again.  This website is the best art resource I have found on the internet.
#6 - August 12, 2012, 12:57 PM
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Okay, now for a newbie question: How is illustration board different than bristol board?  I use bristol board for my colored pencils and when I have used watercolored pencils on the bristol board, it didn't like the water much.  I could only used a little before the surface of the paper turned ugly.  So what is illustration board?

Illustration board comes in hot or cold press (smooth finish or "toothy" or textured finish).
Its usually a piece of bristol-type paper adhered to a chipboard backing.
They make un-archival and archival boards, in different weights, and some are usable on both sides.
I use Strathmore 500 Series boards, which are archival, and both the front and back are the same. Its a very good quality board.
There are also some differences in how "white" the surfaces are (like watercolor paper). Some are warmer white, some brighter.
There are differences by manufacturer, and lots of options. Illustration board is what we used all through art school (Crescent 300, cold press), and it stuck I guess. I did gouache, watercolor, acrylic - everything on that stuff! I just love that it doesn't warp. But having said that, I have a more "render-y" style of painting, which is more picky and detailed. I don't do big washes of watercolor, or need any watercolor 'effects', which watercolor paper would be better for.

It all comes down to personal taste. I would get a few pieces of board to try them out. Most art stores sell pre-cut pieces (15 x 20 or so), or have scraps they'd be willing to sell, so you wouldn't have to spend a lot. The only way to know what you like is to try new stuff!
#7 - August 19, 2012, 12:11 PM

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When I first attempted Watercolors, I didn't feel assured enough about them and my ability to buy a better product. I started out with a pad of Canson XL Cold Press 140 lb. It was good enough to get me started. Once I found out I really liked them, I started buying better products like Windsor & Newton instead of the basic paints I'd purchased first off. The pigment is richer and I use less of it. Then I switched up the paper to Langton Prestige 100 percent cotton 140 lb cold press. Wow . . . it absorbs so much more pigment. I have the ability to apply more layers without them puddling and there is a depth to the finished pieces I couldn't get with the other paper.

Although Cold Press has more tooth making detail work a bit of a task, and I'm somewhat of a renderer myself, I still use it. I work large so I can get the intricacies I want and still benefit from the effects of the paper.

Here is a link to some information that may be helpful:  http://painting.about.com/cs/watercolours/ht/Howto_WCpaper.htm
#8 - August 19, 2012, 03:06 PM
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