How to stretch watercolor paper, prepare it to paint on and remove your work when finished | Gabriella Buckingham | Skillshare

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How to stretch watercolor paper, prepare it to paint on and remove your work when finished

teacher avatar Gabriella Buckingham, Artist - Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (15m)
    • 1. Hello

    • 2. Stretching paper and painting gesso on it

    • 3. A quick alternative method for small pieces

    • 4. Goodbye and Thank you!

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About This Class

This is a really simple class for beginners - people who have never stretched their own watercolour paper before.

Once you have a lovely piece of flat watercolor paper you can paint on it using as much water as you like safe in the knowledge that it will dry flat again.

I show you how to stretch watercolour paper in the traditional way and also another way to stretch a small piece of paper with one of my actual illustrations.

Using this illustration I show you how to remove your work from the board too.

I mention the paper that I love most in the class - Arches watercolour paper - specifically I love the Not surface - it's not too smooth and not too rough. It is expensive but worth it for special projects.

Here's a link to it on a UK site  - as you will see it's available in gummed pad form or as sheets:

 Arches Watercolor Paper selection

Please get in touch with me below or on instagram @GabriellaBuckingham if you have any questions at all!

Meet Your Teacher

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Gabriella Buckingham

Artist - Illustrator


Hello, I'm Gabriella

I've been working as an illustrator and fine artist over the last three decades. During that time I worked as an in-house Christmas card artist for two years and ran my own children's gift brand for ten years; right now I am a full time fine artist, art mentor and online teacher. I now live in North Norfolk near the sea in a bungalow built in 1929 with my husband and two teenagers. We have an untamed garden full of birds, hedgehog visitors and even the odd deer that finds its way through our hedge and eats our plants! Most annoying. I have a free Facebook group for those that want to be Brave in Paint - all levels welcome. I hope to inspire you to create the work you dream of.

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1. Hello: Hello. I'm Gabriella. Welcome to my outdoor studio today. I'm going to be teaching you how to stretch watercolor paper. What you need is some gum strip. I call this but supply tape. This is made in the UK. There are plenty of other brands, as far as I know. But that's the one I was used. You'll need some watercolor paper. The quality of the paper years will depend on whether your complete beginner or somebody Then that is what you're doing. But as I am teaching you quite a basic skill, then I'm assuming as you're watching it, you must be a beginner, in which case I would use in student quality paper until you feel that you're happy with your process on the crossing of painting before you move on to more expensive paper. I personally love the are sh friend of watercolor paper that's felt like arches. Easy to find in organ our shops and on the web pickles. I'm also going to be showing you how to prime your paper if you want to paint with acrylics on this. So let's see what you got to do. Okay. See, you seem 2. Stretching paper and painting gesso on it: Okay, So to begin with, you'll need a piece off MDF board or thick birch plywood, something reasonably thick. It doesn't have to be huge, but just very sturdy. A very strong wooden surface of some sort that that's obviously movable. You can lift up and take anywhere you like. Then you'll need some water kind of paper. I've just cut a really small piece here. It's just over a five size, I would say, and then you need to your gum strip sealing tape. I call it butterfly Tape because it's got that. That's the brand. So I call it Butterfly. Take. This is a very been in all our shops, and there probably are some other brands. I don't know that what I use and then need to measure out just roughly a length for each side on tear it off. Make sure is longer from each side because you want to overlap your tape. Those are the two long sides on, then one, and now you're going to need a water source. So I'm just going to put these to one side, and then normally I use my bath, or you could use with something this small obviously you can use to think to show you here . I've just got a washing up bowl of water. So you take your piece paper and you completely submerge it under the water, which is a lovely thing to do on a hot day. Latest. I'm actually showing you this in my summer house at the bottom of the garden, and it faces self. That's a really hot day in England today, so it's gonna get this back on the floor. Then you got your piece of paper, Something to be aware off. This is a really old board, and I have stretch lots of pieces of paper on it on. I'm going to actually go over the top of an old piece of tape. Now, that's fine for stretching the paper. But when you come to take it off, I might find that is stuck slightly. So be very careful when you're taking your paper off and that's something I'm gonna have to show you as well. Well, remember to reconnect to the that, um because that involves a scalpel. Right now I'm gonna take my two shorter ends or rather, I'm start with Children. Doesn't matter which side you start with just going to run this through the water? Um, so you actually one more time just so you can see how much I submerge it. I'll just run it through just like a banker. But I won't keep it in quite so long and shake it out. Put it down. Do you need that to be fairly wet? Really? You can't just can't just lick it. For example, if you happen to like looking things like that, so cover a reasonable amount of paper so that we taped her something to grip on to and smooth it out gently. And then I would do the short side on long side of mine. Just long enough. I'm going to dio the next side down there across the tapes over again, making sure you've got enough paper underneath. You'll start to see the paper is buckling. That's what would happen if you didn't stretch your paper and use a lot of wet paint on it . So try to smooth that out a little bit as you go. It's not absolutely vital because as it dries, the tape is going to pull at paper and it will flatten again and then you'll have perfectly flat surface to work on. Really? I'm That is how you stretch paper. And then you can either leave it to dry naturally, which I would recommend if you've got time, I'm gonna put this in the sunshine. Or you could take a hair drive his winter, and you've got lots of you want to the stretch and got a deadline. Then you can get it started with a hair dryer. Anything to be aware of that is the direction of the heat of you blast a hair dryer directly at the tape. It may lift off. I may find that some of this or lift off, but as long as most of it has stayed stuck well stuck to the paper, then it will work. And you go lovely flat piece of paper. Okay. I just want to show you this sort of boards that I use stretch watercolor paper on you. Look down here against my wall. We have some MDF boards here. As you can see, I use them a bit like a parent on this one. Here is a piece called birch Plywood. So that's perfectly fine, too. In fact, that's probably better, particularly for small pieces. Uh, it's very low weight, and you can move them all around. One thing I haven't said when I'm talking about I'm talking about stretching paper is that when you leave it to dry, it's best to leave it to dry flat. If you leave it propped up vertically. There's a chance that all the water runs to one end on. It drives unevenly, and it it could pull more and you end up with something that's a little bit buckled. Okay, so for smaller pieces, you could just as easily use a little piece of birth. Play would like that on. Put your paper in the middle on test, tape it right up to the edges and even overlap the edges. That would be absolutely fine. I'm going to show you now how to prepare your water, your freshly stretched watercolor paper, as if you're going to use a critic like it's water color. So you're not a nice, smooth, bright white background. If that is the case, so we need Dio. Let's take yourself yourself a big rush. Andi, choose the plain gesso, which is suitable for all flexible surfaces. I know this is flat, but once it's peeled off, it becomes a flexible surface on just paged. Ob was already some water on this brush, so it's extremely easy to paint it on. I said. Aim for smooth coating, but you don't have to. When I first left our college, I used to deliberately use a dry brush and get so and paint it very randomly on top so that I had around him surface. Here. I've covered covering every a little bit of the paper, so you still see the texture is going very much depend on how you want to paint when you when you're discovering what you like to do. As you can see, when you do this, the paper buckles starts to buckle again because it's re absorbing the water and that's fine. You just leave it to dry, and then you can either put another coat on if you decide you want to paint in color. Or rather, if you decide you want a color background before you paint any more color on a well, you paying your subject, then you would. You could just paint that on top. That would be fine. Similarly, at this stage, you could introduce color 3. A quick alternative method for small pieces: in this next video, I'm going to show you how to remove your paper from your board. I'm also going to show you how to stretch a piece of paper in a different way. All will become clear in the next video season. I wanted to show you an example off a stretch piece of paper that's not stretched in a traditional way. This is, um, on acrylic gouache that I used for this piece. It's simply a paid from my sketchbook, which I tour out. And I used masking tape, which I've needed one out to take each edge after. As you can see, after, I'd actually painted the background in my sketchbook and I thought, I really like that color, so I tore it out, and then I taped. It was It is dry. I taped it down on that. I painted my image. Andi of scanned it in exactly as it is without taping unt. Aping it because obviously when you do that, you have to be very, very careful as you peel it off. And, of course, if I had painted as it one often does, you often paint over the edges off the masking tape and there might be bits here that you really want to keep in your list illustration. So it's really important to scan it in before you take it off the board and equally you could cutting off the board. In fact, I'll do that now so you can see because it's exactly the same technique that you would use to remove. You're what color paper if you've stretched it properly. But this is a good way if you've got a very small piece and you are short of time. She just used good masking tape around the edge of the paper and you'll find that it will stay flat, particularly if you're not using a lot of water, which I didn't in this one. I'm going to my scalpel on the metal ruler. This is exactly how you would remove. You're butterfly taped watercolor paper as well. So school around the edge of the paper rather than the edge of the tape. Pull. That way, your key, all the information that you painted on. You don't risk losing any vital little best because, of course, these days you can used photo shop, too, um, tidy things up in high ledges if you need to. I'm scoring quite hard. I don't besides that, Mr Top. And then it should peel peel off quite easily to cut through the gloom tape. And then you can use the scalpel up to ease up the edge like that. And this is particularly important when you're doing it with them with the butterfly tape, Maybe up, especially if you've used your board several times with butterfly tape, you can get a little strips that are still quite gumming, and they may stick to the back. So be very careful. When you're lifting your paper up, you might find you need a scalpel. Just cut them off the edge. But if you haven't done it before and you've got a virgin board, then that shouldn't be a problem. 4. Goodbye and Thank you!: How's it again? I have you found that helpful? If you've got any questions, tool, just message me below. Andi, I'll go back to you as soon as possible. All you could find me on Instagram with my name deputy that fucking so you could message me there and I'll reply. And since I can't once you finished, you should have something very solicitous. Lovely Chris flat a piece of paper on your board. Sometimes it doesn't work out for whatever reason, whether some of this tape has come up for if you've got to dry it flat, well, if it dried too quickly sometimes and one side can come away. If that happens, you can either put masking tape on the paper where it's come up on, then pull it really tightly down. If it if it really tightly wrapping around the edge of your board on that should dry flat. But if it doesn't, then the only answer really is unfortunately too, to cut it off on start again, which you can do able work eventually. Um, in the past, I've often had pieces weren't quite flat, and I just use that masking tape solution on its works. fine once you cut it off, particularly its for administration, then you'll be scanning it in any way or photographing it for reproduction. So there you have it. As I said, there's no project for this course. If you want to take a photograph of your beautifully stretched piece of paper, that would be wonderful. I'll be delighted to see it and congratulate on that. Or you could even post a beautiful watercolor we've done on your on your paper. Okay, thanks so much for joining this course. I'm going to be releasing another course very soon about a critic painting for beginners on various other ones. After that, all related to using acrylics for illustration or painting. So please do follow be so that you know when I'm relating this classes, Okay, thanks so much. Bye.