How to Keep Paper From Wrinkling When Painting

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Use a painting palette to mix colors.
Use a painting palette to mix colors. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Paper is a painting surface suitable if you're using watercolors, pastel colors and acrylic paints. Paper is an inexpensive surface compared to canvas or cardboard, but its main disadvantage is that it will curl when painted. It's also prone to wrinkling if not stored properly. However, with minimum preparation before painting, you can prevent curling and wrinkling. The storage of the painting is also essential to keeping the paper free of wrinkles.

Things You'll Need

  • Quality paper
  • Sponge
  • Staples
  • Tissue paper
  • Tape
  • Heavy books

Select quality paper for your painting projects. Ideally your paper should weigh more than 140 pounds per square meter, so the paper is less prone to warping. Heavier paper, such as 300 pounds per square meter, is more resistant to scrubbing and wrinkling.

Wet your paper with a moist sponge or a piece of cloth. As an alternative, dip the paper in water and place it on your table. The water makes the paper stick to your working surface.

Staple the paper to your working surface, so that it won't move when you paint. Apply the first staple to the top of the paper, in the center and move your way to the left or right. Staple the top part and move to one side of the paper and then the bottom and the other side. Allow the paper to dry before you start painting. The paper will shrink.

Use less water when painting to prevent soaking the paper in certain areas. Mix and dilute your colors on a palette and apply the desired shades on your paper. If one area is soaked in water, use tissue paper to absorb the excess water. If using pastel colors, drip only a few drops of water over the painting and spread the water with a paintbrush to obtain watercolor effects.

Allow the painting to dry before you remove the staples. Cut the edges of the paper to remove the holes created by the staples.

Store the painting between two pieces of cardboard. Measure the painting and add 1 inch to each side to obtain the size for your pieces of cardboard. Keep the cardboard pieces under a pile of heavy books for one week. Frame the painting under glass or store it between the cardboard pieces.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your paper is wrinkled after the painting is dry, wet its back and place it over a surface covered with tissue paper with the painted surface facing the tissue papers. Cover the back of the painting with tissue paper and put heavy books to press the paper. Remove the books after 12 hours.

References

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