I have been having some small problems with the paper I use on a regular basis. I am lazy by nature and produce a fair old number of paintings during the year, Hence, I really do not want to have to stretch each piece in the time and tested way. Not only does it require planning, but carrying the board to and from the art group is heavy and cumbersome. I have been pleased with the advent of the gummed block as this is supposed to make cockling a thing of the past. Sadly, with the amount of water that I use in my work, even good quality paper like the Fabriano Artistico 300gm paper still created bumps in my paintings. This is not a problem in so far as when dry, it does become relatively flat again, and any extra flattening is not difficult to achieve. However, I have been finding that the washes accumulate in the hollows and can put unsightly stripes in the painting.
Peter, a member of the Art group, is very good about doing mass orders for us to save postage, so I thought I would test out a heavier duty surface. I ordered some sheets of Fabriano 300lb extra white, and some sheets of Hahnemuhle 'Cornwall' 450gm paper ( I do wish they would decide which weight measure we should use across the board!) I quite liked the look of the texture of the 'Cornwall' and though it might fit with the work I have been doing lately. I will let you know how I get on with the heavier Fabriano in a later post, but decided to start with the 'Cornwall'
For those of you who are not familiar with the paper, I think you can clearly see the surface and the effect of adding paint.
Remember the point of the exercise was not to stretch the paper, but to paint with plenty of water and see if I could keep it flat.
As this was an experiment with paper, I decided to stick with what I know best, and do a straight painting with a washed background. The subject is pink hellebores, as I came across a rogue plant in the process of flowering at the moment. I am sure it has never flowered at this time of year before!
I did the drawing in the usual way, and painted the individual flowers before tackling the background.
So far so good, but then the Fabriano was always fine at this stage. I wet the background fairly thoroughly, and started to drop the colours into place, and as it dried I realised that the paper was not going to stay flat. No cockling appeared in the middle of the paper, but there was considerable curling of the edges which made working on the painting difficult and uncomfortable.
I had to turn the painting over onto a clean board covered in white paper, (I am always afraid that the wood colour will seep out of the board and stain the painting) and to liberally spray the back of the painting, dampening it throughout, and then placing more paper and another heavy board on the top. Leaving it to dry thoroughly, it did in fact become flat again and I was able to finish the painting.
I have decided that this paper will get used in future for my more abstract collage work, as the texture made very little difference to the finished painting, and I will continue to paint my usual florals on my still favourite Fabriano Artistico Extra White.
In fairness to the 'Cornwall' paper, it was extremely hot in the studio, and maybe the paper just dried out too quickly to keep its shape, and there certainly was no cockling in the centre of the paper, although I did not have it very wet at that point.