Arty tip of the month – The art of stretching watercolour paper: An essential technique for artists. Jan 24

Watercolour painting is a beautiful medium that allows artists to create stunning and luminous artworks. One crucial step in the process of watercolour painting is stretching the watercolour paper. What is stretching paper you may ask? Well, this technique helps prevent warping, buckling, and cockling of the paper when it gets wet. In this blog post, I will guide you through the process of stretching watercolour paper, ensuring a smooth and stable surface for your creative endeavours.


Materials Required:

  • Good quality watercolour paper
  • Water
  • Large container or sink
  • artist’s gummed tape
  • Sponge
  • Wooden board (bigger than your paper)


  • Tear 4 strips of gum strip to the right lengths.
  • Wet them gently under a tap and line them up on the side. (Don’t over-wet them)
  • Wet the paper thoroughly on both sides. This can be done under the tap if your paper isn’t too big. If the paper is large, then use a bath.
  • Quickly place the wet paper onto the centre of the board.
  • Speed is of the essence now! Stick the wet strips of gum strip around the edges of your paper. Make sure it sticks the paper down by a good centimetre.
  • Using a tea towel, blot the excess water.
  • Allow the paper to dry flat for several hours or overnight.

When you’ve finished your painting, it’s important to let it dry thoroughly before cutting it off your board with a craft knife. If there is any moisture in the paper and you cut it off too soon, your paper will still cockle after it has been removed. 



In my opinion, stretching watercolour paper is a crucial step in the watercolour painting process. There is nothing worse than seeing buckled paper in a frame behind glass. Following the steps outlined in this blog post will stop that and ensure a smooth painting surface for your watercolour artworks. So, next time you’re preparing to embark on a watercolour journey, remember the art of stretching your watercolour paper to elevate your creative experience. Happy painting!


If you’ve liked my hints and tips this month and you’d like to learn more, why not take a look at my online courses.

I’m offering a special 15% discount for a Valentine’s Day special. Why not gift my online course? Just add LOVE15 in the discount box and tick the ‘send as gift’ box on the payment page. (Discount for a limited time only)