"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

Stretching Artwork ...

Artwork in progress, paper warping already!

 One thing that can spoil a completed painting is to see the paper warped from the use of watercolour.  So much time and effort taken to get the painting right and yet once it's framed the warping casts shadows or detracts from the artwork.   I work very wet and always have a buckled finish to the paper.  Most artists I know stretch their paper before painting ... see below

Wet side down,  tape around edges
Face down spray BACK of artwork evenly

 I had only been shown how to stretch on completion so I'd love to show how ... I should run a disclaimer beforehand though - never do this for the first time on a cherished artwork.  

First place the finished artwork face down on a clean, dry towel.  Then use a spray bottle to wet the BACK  of the paper completely and evenly - same as the pics above but consider it on a finished piece.

 Carefully lift the paper and place wet side down - artwork  face up on a window or glass surface, carefully smoothing it onto the window.     Tape all sides with pre-wet gummed artists tape.  Be very careful not to get water on the artwork side, and when smoothing down tape with a clean dry cloth, be careful the glue doesn't ooze onto artwork.

Wet side on glass, artwork facing, tape all around

I usually tape the completed artwork to a window - not in direct hot sunlight - but well lit.  I leave it on the window or a glass coffee table surface for 24 hours at least, 48 in winter.  Very carefully use a razor to slide under tape and around artwork - you can peel the excess tape off the window afterwards.   Happy stretching!!


  1. I have always had problems with gummed tape, however I found a very good and cheap paper stretcher that didn't bend the edgers of the paper on ebay (sellers id arthur8646) he is a watercolour artist who has designed and sells the item, I have 2 1/4 imperial and I am about to the 1/2 imperial. I can highly recommend the product. I have stretched finished works with it but it is so light weight that I now pre stretch my paper after drawing my layout, as I use a light box for my botanical work.

  2. This is great stuff Vicki. I wish my art teacher taught me this at school! Thank you for helping me with my waterlilies - close shave really. Forgetting to stretch my paper could have been a disaster!

  3. What a great suggestion Vicki, I will have to remember that !
    I was getting fed up with buckling paper so have now gone over to using 300lb weight paper, which is more expensive, but I feel worth it.
    Not sure what paper you use, I use Fabriano HP Natural White. Happy painting and I adore your work. Good luck with the course :)

  4. Thanks Manon, Barrie, Jess and Sarah...
    I use the Fabriano 5 Classico which is SBA course recommended - I do work very wet though so always need to stretch either before or after!
    This technique works really well Sarah - thanks for the compliment, your blog is wonderful

  5. Here's a link to a stretcher I also found on ebay, and liked much better than the one (which I also bought) Barrie about recommended. It can take more wetness without buckling, and is a bit sturdier:

    There's quite a few good threads on WetCanvas about stretchers, like this one which has links to some others: