Paper Training

Q. I recently bought 90- and 140-lb. student art paper. After completing paintings on them both, I noticed that the packages said “not recommended for stretching.” How can I get out any buckling that occurs?

A. From the adjective student I can deduce that the paper doesn’t have the strength or fiber content to withstand stretching. Because many student drawings are meant for practice and are usually discarded, this kind of paper is often made with cheaper fibers, impermanent ingredients, or less scrupulously clean methods than artists’ papers. Next time, choose an artist’s-quality paper for your painting. You might want to stretch the student paper anyway, using an 8×10 sheet.

If the paper contains sizing and there’s a bit of glue left in it, try the following to remove the cockling from your finished work—but be aware that it might not work to your satisfaction. Dampen the back of the painting with water, brush it on and let it soak in. Then turn the paper over and lay it face up on a large sheet of plate glass. Be sure there are no bubbles trapped beneath the paper, and let it dry. This technique may flatten the work. If not, it might be time to chalk this painting up to a learning experience.

Steve Smith is the senior editor for The Artist’s Magazine.

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