Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Each artist works their own way. I do not pretend I know it all.
With more than 35 years playing with watercolour, I have accumulated some knowledge, I have been through time of despair trying to find my own way, bought unnecessary material I was fighting with.

So with this post, I am trying to show you how I stretch my paper.
Each time is perfect result. No wasted paper.

I have no way of showing with a Video. However I have been told a demonstration with photos is good as people can come back on it quicker.. !
I hope it is true.

So First of all, the paper!!!

You need to know the right side of the paper from the wrong side.
Most papers these days are made for the use of both sides.
But it is my belief that if there is a right side it is for some reason.

So here is a Saunders Waterford paper

The name is showing through the paper, if it was the wrong side, it would be reversed.

A TIP: Once I have found the right side, I put a cross in each corner of the sheet of paper.
It allows me to quickly find out which side I am working on, this if I have cut the paper in several pieces.
Notice too, on the left corner, there is a stamp down by Saunders Waterford. Their Logo.
It is raised on the Right side.

TRY TO  KEEP your paper on the right side facing you for when you are going to lay it in the bath for soaking and taking it out and laying it on a board.

Sometimes the paper is sent to you already cut and so some pieces will not show either the label or the stamp.
How to find the right side?

Simple: Look at the edges, on each paper you should have at least one edge, original cut from the factory.

On the Right side of the paper, the edge is not interrupted , it is continuous to the paper.

If you run a pencil against the edge you will meet a resistance as shown with the red pencil mark and the black dots.
It is the wrong side

So Now about soaking the paper.
I soak the paper for about 2 minutes for 300lbs more and you will loose some of its properties..

I run enough cold water and  making sure I do not put finger marks on the paper, I immerse it gently. I hold corners even to push it gently under water.

While it is soaking,
I make sure my MDF board is ready with my staple gun loaded!

By the way, I have bought a very large MDF sheet in B&Q.
My husband cut it in several sizes.
You can request this from the shop, they will cut it for you.


After two minutes, I lift the paper by one corner and let the water drip until there is no more dripping. 
You lay the RIGHT SIDE facing you, on the board, stretching the corner, making sure there no air bubbles under the paper. REMEMBER, no fingers on the paper.
You then fix the paper with the staple gun while stretching again from each corner

As you can notice, there is some buckling but after 30 minutes, it is perfectly flat and dry.
There is another way easy way to stretch paper: 

I have bought 2 sizes.

It is perfect! Dry and ready to work on within minutes. 

This is the back of the board.
It comes with black flexing rods 

You can see the Video below:

I will advise you TWO things.

- I do not use a towel as I have left the paper drip in the bath until no further dripping, holding the paper by one corner.
- I DO NOT put my hands or fingers all over the paper.
- I use a small hammer to fix the rods. Do not hit too hard or you might tear the paper.

Before soaking the paper, I cut it to the right size.
You must leave quite of an edge for the return of the paper.

See what I do:

I have a recess of about 2" all around the board.

Below is the Final result within 1/4 of an hour.

Ready to paint on!!!


Prepare you paper before going to bed. It will be ready for the next day.
Or before going shopping. It will be ready on your return!

Thanks to this demo... I have two boards ready for me to work on... Big smile on my face!


Monday, 28 November 2016


I am a great believer in recording, keeping references about the way I work.

How many times I have created a work, used such such colours, or found a trick or two to achieve a glow or a pleasing result only to forget a few months later how I had achieved it!

Frustrating eh?

For this reason I have a scrapbook. It is a real little gem of references.
I would advise all artists in watercolour to start one.

So from my scrapbook, I can now show you:

How paint behaves on different papers.

Notice how on Hot Press paper HP, the paint does not lay out of boundary.
It is reserved  more for an illustration or botanical work.
Notice too how Bockingford paper gives a bright result


As you can see I got different results with different paper.

If you wish to experiment with different papers but do not want to spend a fortune, try to team with artists to exchange small size samples of different used paper.
I always have some being cut from the side of my finished watercolours.

Coming back to my scrapbook, I strongly recommend creating one. 
It is great fun looking through it after years of findings.

Good luck with yours.


With left overs of paper: 

-create little greeting cards to send to your friends.
-Keep some for sampling your colours prior to lay on a painting
-Or be more savvy and recycle paper by creating your own watercolour paper!


Saturday, 26 November 2016


If it was not enough to have to decide which make of paper is best for our style of painting, to confuse the issue, we have also to choose the weight of the paper.

I know, it is a complete nightmare when we start with watercolour painting!

The weight of a paper is achieved while being manufactured.
It happens under a press

Please watch this information given with ARCHES paper

Almost all artists will tell you not to buy under 300grm or 140lb. It is true!

Under 300 grms you will need to stretch the paper otherwise it will buckle while doing washes, which is very frustrating as the paint settles into the creases when drying. Not what we have in mind for a good result!

However, if you are playing with a lot of water, I would advise to stretch a 300 grms paper.

To play safe, you might want to buy a 638 grms paper (300lb). With this one, you surely will not need stretching.

The one drawback with heavy paper is the heavier it is, the more colour you will need to apply.
The reason being, the colour sinks into the paper leaving a weaker colour while drying than on a thinner paper.

I have worked once on a 90lb (190grms) paper. Because of its low weight, the colours remain very vibrant. I really loved the effect. But... no good with washes. It is reserved for dry brush only.

Personally I do not like to stretch paper. I do it once in a while though.

I like to keep the surface as it is to paint on it. If the paper buckles, when the watercolour is finished and dry, I spray the back of the picture, leave it to dry for 48 hours between heavy books. Do not be tempted to have a look, you would disturb the drying time and mess up everything.

And Now we have the surface to think about!

You buy the paper: HP (hot press) NOT (cold press) ROUGH

HP is mostly for illustration work. I have tried to do washes on it, but it did not behave the way I wanted. Some artists use it too for charcoal or pencil drawing, something I will try.

NOT is the surface I like best. It has a very small tooth. I absolutely love this surface for my work.

ROUGH, says it all. A rough surface with a tooth greater than the NOT. It is good for landscape. 

Next time... how I stretch my paper.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016


Twice in a week, people have told me they were going to start painting in watercolour.

Not knowing if they were going to like it, they do not want to spend much money in equipment. 

My concern is when one of them told me the experiment will be on ordinary paper as Watercolour paper is too expensive.
In the past too many friends told me they had abandoned Watercolour as 
"they did not get on with it"


Ordinary paper is a great NO NO...
Painting watercolour on this kind of paper, will put off watercolour painting forever.
It is as bad as experimenting Oil on Glass.

There are ways to get watercolour paper that are on the cheap side:

A pack of 20  Mini starter paper can be bought for £8.95
with Ken Bromley
An excellent way to test paper behaviour

There is enough paper in this pack to give an idea how the colours behave and what can be done with watercolour.


I started with Bockinford paper. I did love it all these years ago.
They changed the production.
I no longer liked it!!!
So I had to do some experiments...
Just now I love working with: 
Arches - Saunders Waterford - Fabriano Artistico.
To my surprise, I have found that some paper do not behave twice the same way.
This is due to the press losing its felt and not being as efficient.
The best of paper can also have some flaws ...
Artists have to know how to adapt to different papers but also different behaviour.

If you are starting:
I would advise you to find out which paper you would love to work with.
Once you have made your choice, stick to it until you find your style and way to paint.
Buy one large sheet of paper that you can cut to pieces.
Some Online shops offer to cut the paper for you to the size required.

You might like to see how St Cuthberts Mill produces Saunders Waterford paper

My next post will be about colours and brushes.


Friday, 18 November 2016

Why and How!

I have had a lovely morning, visiting The Grand in Folkestone.

Folkestone Art Society is holding their beautiful art exhibition in one of the grand rooms.

There is an array of different styles, different mediums with paintings of all sizes and sculptures too.

There was quite a while I had exchanged Art views with other artists, by this I mean face to face..

I have met a few of them and had a great time chatting for an hour about the merit of Oil, Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastel.

One artist showed me his own paintings and explained to me the meaning of it. He also told me, lately he was adding poems by his paintings.

Well, I thought it was a brilliant idea.

I must say, there has been a while I have been able to visit an Art exhibition and I made a discovery!

Looking at a painting on a wall, means looking at a painting. It either talks to you or it does not.
It can be very beautiful but to motivate a viewer and a possible buyer, the artist needs to give an explanation about the creation. The Why and How.

This gentleman's painting was brilliant but when I was told Why and How he had created it, the work took in my eyes another dimensional meaning. It brought emotion. I saw the painting differently and loved it a lot more.

So artists, do explain to your viewers what has motivated you to create, why? how?
The viewer will be more engaged into your work.

After all Art is all about Emotions!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

WEBSITES DISTRUPTION - Paintings for sale

Knowing that most of my followers read my post on this blog...

Just to inform you my page Paintings for sale on

is not working properly

Nothing wrong with the site. I was trying to display the paintings on larger format.

As it slowed down the site, I decided to transfer them to another site.

In a few days my Paintings for Sale will be on:

Hopefully with more details and also, showing paintings that are too large and heavy to send and so will be available from my studio only.

To see the paintings, Contact me on my website.
I will give you my phone number and address.


Wednesday, 9 November 2016


If you are around Folkestone between 12th November and the 20th,
Come and have a look at Folkestone Art Society Autumn's exhibition

I understand it is a real treat with great many paintings to view.

I have just joined the Society. I will have one painting hanging there.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Friday, 4 November 2016

Featured in CINQUE PORTS MAGAZINE - November 2016

Many thanks to the Editor of Cinque Ports Magazine for
featuring my work and article about our beautiful town of Hythe in Kent

It is a treasured corner of the South Coast of England that is perishing under 
the hands of developers, with the blessing of our Council SDC!

We will never regain what is being lost!
I hope my paintings and those of other artists will be telling and showing to the future generations how beautiful was Hythe.



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