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How to Prepare Watercolor Paper

Learn to prepare watercolor paper from my experience and my video.

For years, to prepare my paper for painting, I soaked my watercolor paper in a clean tub, then laid it on a board and stapled it down so that when it dried and shrunk, it would be tight and lay flat. This video will show another method of stretching watercolor paper. It expands with the addition of water. In addition I will add color to the wet paper that will be my "mood" wash, underpainting or whatever you care to call it.

Well, this video will show you how I do it now. I thoroughly wet the paper on both sides with a large brush (or you could dip it into a tub of water, but why waste all that water?). The paper will adhere to a non-absorbent surface like glue. While you may want to begin direct painting on the surface, you might wipe the top with a clean towel to remove the excess water.

This will also work. But the most exciting part of this for me is that I can add colors to the surface while it is really wet, and they will blend beautifully. Notice that I do not brush back and forth to make them blend, as that is not necessary. I also leave portions of each color without covering them with the next color, so that there is a little of each of the colors that will show when the paper is dry.

How to Prepare Watercolor Paper

The underside of the paper remains wet for a long time, which gives you the ability to blend colors more easily on the surface. I use 200# Waterford paper, as it is less likely to bubble up than 140# paper. If your paper has air bubbles underneath (lumps that appear on the surface), just pick it up at the corner or at one edge, and roll it up partially Then add more water to the back side, then roll it down carefully and the bubbles will disappear

It is at this time that I will begin stating the subject matter. If you don't paint without drawing, you can (when the paper is really dry) do a light pencil drawing, paying no attention to the color on the page. Pretend that it is white paper. You will be amazed at your final product!

The best part about your finished product is the fact that you can float your page in a frame so that the raw edges of the paper show. People love to see that. There are no ugly staple holes. I call this "painting from edge to edge".

Watercolor Painting Tips

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