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That’s A Stretch June 23, 2006

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Home.

I wrapped up the third week of my six week class yesterday.  After we finished the second church Wednesday evening we learned the next trick in the watercolorist's toolbox:  Stretching the Paper.  This entails taking a largish piece of watercolor paper and immersing it completely in the water and keeping it there for a minute.  Then the paper is taken out, allowed to drain for a bit, and then secured to a board with a special tape with water activated glue.  This then allowed to dry COMPLETELY for the next 24 hours or so.  When the paper gets wet, it expands of course.  When it dries it normally resumes its former dimensions.  The special tape prevents it from doing so, and as such it is stretched to its previous wet size.  All the time we were doing this the instructor assured us that painting on stretched paper vs. unstreched paper was like "night and day!"  He didn't elaborate as to why but I had an idea though, and I was right.

The next day, my board was bowed under the strain of the contracting paper.  Not a whole lot, but very noticable.  One of the other young gals in the class had a problem – her tape ripped.  I think she got her tape too wet in spots and the glue didn't hold all the way around the perimeter.  Better luck next time!

The instructor selected the next image:  a tropical beach scene.  Sea and sky – we meet again!


Not bad.  I'm particularly pleased with the sea part.  I'm starting to not-suck at this.  And YES the stretching is a good thing!  When working with watercolors the paper always warps, puckers and curls.  This makes large, soft blending and flowing washes very difficult.  Color runs away from water concentrations, remember.  Here the paper is streteched to it's water saturated size and it stays FLAT!  It is so much easier now to do things.  Night and day indeed – I love it.

Tomorrow it's back to the art supply store for stretching tape and boards!



1. Michael - June 24, 2006

I still don’t see that oil rig I asked for. Dude, do you want to make some money or not?

2. elzbth - June 25, 2006

Looks like an excellent vacation spot to me. Forget the oil rig, add a mai tai. And some surfer dudes.

3. Dave in Texas - June 28, 2006

some enchanted eve-ning, you will find your sweetheart, you will find your sweetheart, across a crowded, uh, beach.

I’m gonna wash that sand right outta my hair, I’m gonna wash that sand..

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