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Stretching Watercolour Paper


If you have ever painted on a sheet of well-stretched watercolour paper, you will know why it is worth the time and effort to do this relatively simple task before starting your next painting.

Many artists are put off by the thought of stretching their paper, thinking it is difficult. But it is like anything – practice makes perfect. The first question many ask is: Why stretch paper in the first place? By pre-stretching watercolour paper you will prevent the paper from cockling when you wet it in the painting process. The second question many ask is: Does all paper need to be stretched? The easy answer is no. The better answer is – it depends on the weight of the paper. The general rule of thumb is that thinner paper needs to be stretched to prevent it from buckling when it gets wet as you paint on it. There is no hard and fast rule. If you are doing a small painting, about postcard size, you could probably get away without stretching, even on a fairly light weight paper. But if you love your washes and dowse your paper with successive layers of colour you probably need to keep reading.

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