Soaking and Stretching Watercolor Paper
The next part of this I want to talk about are the surfaces that you're going to be painting on. But before we get there, I do want to pull the tape off so you can see the beautiful reveal of the pictures that, they're not really pictures, they're just tests, but I want you to see what it looks like when you've used both the artist tape and the white tape. And the reason why I'm doing this is because I'm actually painting on what's referred to as a watercolor block, and the watercolor block is basically paper that's been, single sheets of paper that've been pressed together so that when you're working, the watercolor paper is what's called pre-stretched. And stretching basically means the paper isn't going to wrinkle once it dries. It's going to remain flat. If you just wet a piece of paper, and then you try to paint on it, you're going to get wrinkles and bubbles. And so what the stretched watercolor paper does is it allows, it's going to wrinkle when it's painted on, but once it drie...
s, it should go flat again. So this is a watercolor block, and look it how clean and beautiful. Oh my gosh! Like I said, this is one of my favorite parts is taking the tape off, but you can see that the edge of this is, it's like plastic on the edge, except this one spot which will allow me either with a knife, I can use an X-Acto knife, which I can show you, or I can just peel it with my fingers, and basically, it's just I'm pulling this paper that has remained nice and flat because it's sealed on the edges, it's held really tight, in other words, it's called stretched. Ooh, need to rip it. You can use a knife, an X-Acto knife, which is, I have one over here. Or you can use your fingers. And the knife is probably going to be a little bit cleaner in action, but I wanted to show you if you don't have access to a knife, you can pull this off. And basically, it gives you a nice, flat picture. And then you still have the rest of this surface to work on. Every time you finish a picture, you pull that page off and you're on to the clean sheet. So watercolor blocks, and this one I believe is, Blick's Hot Press, which I'll get to in a minute. Hot press just means it's a really smooth type of paper. Not textured. Is a wonderful surface to work on, to draw on, to paint on, but you don't have to stretch the paper. Now, if you want to stretch the paper, I'm going to show you how we do that. And what I've done is I've pre-wet a piece of paper. Now this is just a textured watercolor paper. It is from a pad. I will show you. Let's see, where's my pad? I'll find it in a second, but basically it's not stretched. It's just a pad of watercolor paper. And so what I'm going to do is stretch it. I've wet both sides, just put it in the sink, lukewarm water, not hot, not cold, and what will happen is I'm laying it onto a plywood board. Now you can get this at the hardware store. You can also use what's called homasote, and homasote, not to be confused with hummus, is a type of like textured particle board paper that if you're working in a classroom, it's usually where if you're painting things into the wall, it might be painted over homasote. But homasote can be bought at any kind of art supplies store or a hardware store. It's a little softer than plywood and takes the staples really well. So what I'm going to do, I'm using a heavy duty staple gun, and the heavy duty staple gun works better than say a standard staple gun you'd use to staple paper together because it's a little more firm and will go through the wood. And basically, to stretch watercolor paper, (staple gun fires) you put the staple roughly a quarter inch or so in and you start with your corners. (staple gun fires) Ooh, I missed it. You don't wanna go right to the edge of the paper because as it's drying, it's stretching tight, it might tear a little bit. But I would go to the corners first, (staple gun fires) and then (staple gun fires) I go in between these staples, roughly about an inch in between all the way around. And I don't have to staple this whole thing. It's really loud, but you get the idea. (staple gun fires) So by stapling all the way around this paper, what I'm doing is I'm creating tension, and just like with the block, the block the tension is made by that sticky, rubbery material that's holding that paper down, the staples are holding the paper down to this surface. And when it's completely dry, I'll show you an example. Let's see if I've got it here. This is a picture, one of my drawings, my pandas, Ping and Pang. I pre-stapled this. This is just like a, ooh, there's a picture on the back. I reuse things a lot. This is just a plain piece of plywood. I've stapled on it, you can see it's about an inch in between. When I'm finished with this, I will then use my X-Acto knife, and I will use a ruler, because I don't want to just, you know, wing it. And I will cut this picture right off of this surface. And then I can reuse the board. I use a butter knife to pop all of these staples off. It's super easy. You can also use a stapler clip to pull the staples out. I tend to like a butter knife. And then reuse the surface for future pictures. But basically, that's what this process is about, and it's a really, I mean I do it because I like the blocks. The blocks are great for portable painting. You can get little tiny blocks. The one I just showed you is quite large. And you can get different kinds of surfaces with the blocks, but the block is really intended for portable painting. What I'm doing here is what I do in my studio, because I kind of like to control the size of the picture. I might make a really big picture, and I'm gonna need a bigger, I can't get a block that big. Blocks only come so large, because they're supposed to be portable. So this is called soaking and stretching your paper. And some people like to use what's called brown tape to tape the edges of the paper, to hold it down. Same process as the staples. I've never had huge success with the brown tape. It often lifts, and when it lifts that leaves a bubble. So I don't mess around, I just do the staples and let it be. Once this is fully dry and I have the drawing on my surface, I put it in front of a fan, so that this surface dries really well. I reactivate it obviously when I use watercolor. It wrinkles a little while you're working with it, but once it dries, completely flat. So it's, I think, a really nice surface to use. I also, once it's dry, I tape over these staples because if the staple's sticking out even a little bit from this board, and I run my hand over it, it's not going to feel too good. So I always tape over my staples. But that's, and you don't have to use a fancy board. This was something I found in my garage, but it works.