WATERCOLOR

Best Watercolor Supply No One Talks About

ONE CRUCIAL WATERCOLOR SUPPLY THAT NO ONE TALKS ABOUT…

When discussing watercolor supplies – everyone seems to talk about the paper, paints, brushes, etc.   And I totally understand why – these are the showy and cool supplies that make watercolor so fun.  But one supply few people talk about – that is super important is a stretching board – also known as a board to stretch your paper on.  

TWO WAYS TO STRETCH YOUR PAPER…

When it comes to painting with watercolor – unless you are working with extremely heavy (and might I add pricey) watercolor paper – you will need to stretch your paper to prevent buckling and warping due to water damage. There are two ways to do this – either buy purchasing already pre-stretched watercolor paper – known as watercolor blocks. Or by stretching the paper yourself on a wooden board – as I will be discussing today.

Arches Watercolor Paper Block – Pre-stretched Watercolor Paper

BUT WHY HAVE A PAPER STRETCHING BOARD?

Well, there are actually three reasons why using a paper stretching board is super helpful to a watercolorist…  

REASON #1: PREVENTS WARPING

The first is that it prevents your paper from warping while you are painting on it.  This means a flatter surface to work on and less of those puddles of paint settling in those dips on your page. 

Painting on an Easel with a Tilted Stretching Board

REASON #2: EASY TO TILT & MOVE

The second reason is that it makes your work flow easier – i.e. you can easily move or tilt your paper to help in your painting process.  Sometimes – it is essential to tilt or even rotate your painting to help paint flow smoother or just to help you get a better angle to paint at.    

REASON#3: PAPER CAN TAKE MORE ABUSE

And finally – your paper can take quite a bit more water abuse when stretch to a flat board.    So how does this work?  Well, think of your paper like the top of a drum – taunt and smooth.   As you add water – your paper will expand slightly hence creating some ripples and warping.  But as the paper dries it once again shrinks to its original form – taunt and smooth once again.  Since the board is helping create a resist to your paper – it will allow you to use more water without warping to an unmanageable place as quickly.   Now – don’t misunderstand – you will still have warping while painting on your board – but it will be much less when compared to not stretching your paper or stretching it on a thin sheet of cardboard.   

SO THERE ARE THE REASONS WHY HAVING A STRETCHING BOARD IS SO IMPORTANT!

About Author

Hi there! My name is Carrie and I'm a Watercolor Misfit! What's a Watercolor Misfit? Well, anyone who is willing to try new things and not afraid to get their hands covered in paint! So what do you say, are you a Misfit-ian?

2 Comments

  • Karen S Gruntman
    March 13, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    I use a plywood board 1/2″ thick an I have them sized for a full sheet, half sheet and a quarter sheet of paper allowing a 1″-2″ margin around the paper. I soak my watercolor paper in the bathtub for 5 min. I lift the sheet and let excess water drip off. I take it to my board and staple it down placing staples about every inch aprox. Depending on the effect I want a let it dry a little for graded washed or let it dry completely. I always have a lovely smooth surface for painting.
    Thank you for sharing your great tips and tricks!
    Blessings, Karen G.

    Reply
  • Joan
    March 25, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Wow, you use staples!
    I was always taught use a pre dry gummed paper tape. It will take up the moisture from the pre soaked paper to hold the desired size paper flat. I don’t use wood….I use a piece of mat board.
    You can learn something new every day!
    Joan

    Reply

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