Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stretching Watercolor Papers- Removing Sizing

QUESTION: Hi, I just finished your DVD Painting across America The Oregon Coast. The DVD was fun easy to follow. I do have one question about stretching paper. There are several pros and cons to stretching. One of the pros that I have been taught is that stretching removes the sizing. What do you think? Debbie

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Debbie! I'm so pleased you enjoyed the DVD on painting the Oregon Coast. Thanks!
About stretching watercolor paper: If you asked five different instructors about the pros and cons of stretching watercolor paper, you'd probably get five different answers. That's because we all develop our own style and techniques for painting and what works best for us as we learn to paint. None of us are wrong, but my method may not be best for someone else's style. And that's OK!
What do I think?
About sizing: For me personally, I like the sizing on my paper. Sizing enables me to use techniques that require a more durable paper surface. (Like glazing, scrubbing and lifting) I use Arches 140# CP for most of my paintings. I understand (with Arches watercolor paper) the sizing is added to the paper pulp as it is processed (referred to as internally sized) so the sizing is the same on both sides of the paper. Some brands of watercolor papers spray the sizing on the surface after the paper is made. I'm guessing those papers might need to have some of the sizing removed to make the paint flow better for the artist. Which is better? It really depends on the technique and style of the individual artist.
So for me personally for my style of painting removing the sizing isn't a pro, it's a con.
More About stretching: I know some artists who will not paint on unstretched paper...period!
My preference is to paint on high quality unstretched loosely secured watercolor paper. I enjoy the freedom to tilt and bend the flexible paper to create interesting mingling of the paint if my painting session take a turn in that direction. Plus I work on a number of paintings at the same time so if I did stretch my paper I'd need dozens of backer boards to hold my works in progress.
When I've worked on the taunt surface of stretched paper it wasn't that I didn't like it, but I did need to make adjustment to my brushstrokes and work differently.
Call me lazy, but personally, I'd rather be painting than spending the extra time it takes to stretch my watercolor paper. But that's me!

Thanks for your question!

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