Painting: The Paper Affects the Painting
by Catherine Calder
you ever gone in to buy some paper for painting and been overwhelmed
by the choice? You would think it would be a simple thing to buy a
sheet of paper, wouldn't you? Well, it can be if you know what the
different choices mean and how it can affect your finished painting.
created a whole range of paper products for the artist. So many
choices that unless you know what some of the terms mean it can be
When you want your
painting to last for a long time always go for acid-free. This is the
type of paper used in archives.
The next thing is
the surface texture of the paper, whether you want a fine texture or
rough. You may be asking "How do I know? I just want something
to paint on!"
The texture you
choose will depend on your style of painting. If you like to have a
lot of detail in your paintings you will need a smooth textured paper
- in which case you want one that is 'Hot Pressed'.
If you use a lot
of watercolour (or watercolour style) washes then the paper you
should choose will be 'Not'. That means 'Not hot pressed'. It has a
bit more texture than Hot pressed papers.
If you paint a lot
of landscapes and/or like granulation (which happens when the colours
separate while they dry) you will probably like using Cold pressed
papers. These have the roughest texture.
Papers are sold in
weights. This affects the thickness of the paper. Papers that are
less than 300-lb or 640gsm (grams per square metre) will need to be
stretched before painting. If you don't stretch the paper it will
buckle when wet making painting difficult and the paint will dry in
the hollows giving a disappointing result.
needs to be done in advance and the paper allowed to dry before you
use it. You will need a clean drawing board, some 1½ inch wide
gum strip, and water to soak the paper in (the bath is handy for this).
Soak the paper in
the water until it is saturated, this will take less than a minute.
Place the paper onto the board and smooth it out from the centre to
Cut pieces of gum
strip to fit the length and the width of the paper, plus a couple of
inches. Dampen the gum strip and use it to stick the longer edges of
the paper to the board, and then do the shorter edges. Smooth out the
paper and the gum strip and leave it to dry naturally and on the
horizontal. Do not place it near a heater!
If you just want
to paint without needing to prepare the paper, there are pads of
ready stretched paper that save you having to do this yourself.
These pads have
the paper glued around the edges and you paint on the top of the pad.
Once you've finished the painting and it is completely dry, a knife
is inserted at one of the edges and moved around the sides to cut
through the glue and free the top layer.
It is a good
investment to buy good quality paper. It is much easier to use, and
gives a better result.
Next time you need
to buy paper think about how you like to paint, and it will be much
easier to decide on the type of paper to buy.
Where to Next?
is the author of The Acrylic Painting Course. The
simple step-by-step way to learn how to paint. Quick and easy. Check
out 'Painting Surfaces - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly' in The
Special Reports section at Learn