Advice for keeping the paper flat when working with watercolors. Post your own tips here.
First of all, water color paintings are going to "pucker" or curl a bit because of the use of water. My art teacher in high school had us wet the surface that we painted on (not sopping but perhaps with a sponge or wet cloth) and then lay down the water color sheet to be painted. This sort of equalizes the paper, water on bottom and water on top. This helps the paper not to move around, also.
Most watercolor artists stretch their watercolor paper on a frame to avoid this happening. Stretching reduces the "puckering" you're talking about. Also, there are many grades of watercolor paper, some are COLD pressed, & some HOT pressed. watercolor paper comes in many price ranges. Below is a website called "Daniel Smith", they are a high quality artists' supply. They will send you a free catalog and happily answer any questions on their 800 number if you'll just contact them:
I usually dunk the whole sheet of paper in a dish pan of water, then staple it to a to a board, let it dry (it will shrink just a little). When it is dry, you can paint on it, while still stapled to the board. Eliminates a lot of the wrinkling.
Yeah, lightly soak the paper, than paint on it.
Watercolor painting can be a challenge, and 'stretching' paper may seem just 'too much' before getting to get right to what you want, painting! With just a few minutes prep-time, you can have a great surface to paint on which will give you better results.
With lower grade paper, (lower weight per sheet), soaking (yes, sloppy wet soaking)of the paper works best. Soak the paper for a few minutes submerged in water, lay it out over a wooden board and stapled the paper every few inches around the sides, starting from the center edge of each page, then the corners, then in between those staples. Let the paper dry and wha-la! 'Stretched paper' that won't buckle on you and pool your paint where you don't want it. Practice makes perfect--let me know if this is helpful to you. :)
Use masking tape to create a "frame" around all four edges of your paper, taping it to your table, drawing board, or whatever you are painting on. If you are not using good watercolor paper (very expensive) just try using a little less water when you paint. Leave the painting taped down until it is dry.
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