First of all, I like to work on several paintings at one time. I may have up to 4 paintings in various stages of completion on any given day. The watercolor above is on a full sheet (22″ by 30″) of D’Arches 140 lb cold press watercolor paper.  I prefer to work on flat paper so I take the extra time to stretch watercolor paper to prevent buckling while I am painting. Here I am starting a pink lily flower watercolor on a full sheet (22″ by 30″) of D’Arches 140 lb coldpress watercolor paper. Stretching watercolor paper by soaking the paper in water may take additional time and effort but can ultimately improve the quality of the final artwork. This technique of stretching the paper is described below.

Stretching Watercolor Paper

I fill the bathtub with several inches of water and then I soak the watercolor paper for 8 minutes. The large sheet of paper will need to be moved around as it is soaking because it is wider than a standard tub. I then lay the paper onto a thin piece of marine plywood and staple all along the edges of the paper about every 2-3 inches. The staples can be seen in the photo above. I use a heavy duty stapler with 1/4″ deep staples so they do not go through the back of the plywood. I let this dry before starting the painting.

Any plywood can be used for stretching but it should be primed before using because it will be repeatedly getting wet each time you stretch paper. Alternatively, Gatorboard can be used to stretch watercolor paper. I use a 1/2″ thick piece of Gatorboard in a 16″ x 24″ size for a half sheet of paper. It is lightweight and can be used over and over.

Follow along as I paint these pink lily flower painting, there are 5 posts with a variety of watercolor tips and techniques! The next post is here