How to Prepare Watercolor Paper for Oil Paint

Written by calandra cooper
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How to Prepare Watercolor Paper for Oil Paint
Watercolour paper is available in different weights and textures. (gouache image by Gabriel-Ciscardi from

An artist can paint on anything as long as the surface is properly prepared. Most oil paintings are done on stretched canvas or wood. Both help ensure the work withstands wear, curling and deterioration for many years. In addition to traditional oil painting surfaces, watercolour paper is a good alternative to canvas or wood if the surface is properly prepared to meet the conditions many artists prefer: flat, smooth, nonporous and even.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pre-mixed gesso
  • Paintbrush
  • Plywood
  • Dust sheet
  • Easel
  • Watercolour paper
  • Sand paper
  • Staple

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  1. 1

    Select a hot pressed watercolour paper. Watercolour paper commonly comes in three varieties: hot pressed, rough or cold pressed. Hot pressed is the smoothest of the three paper types.

  2. 2

    Select watercolour paper weighing between 63.5 and 136kg. Watercolour paper thickness is based on its weight or pounds per ream. Paper weighing 40.8kg. is extremely light. Heavier watercolour papers don't necessarily require stretching. It's a matter of artist's preference. Stretching prevents the paper from curling during the painting and drying process. The heavier the watercolour paper, the less likely it is to curl.

  3. 3

    Prepare the work surface by spreading a dust sheet on the floor. Place the watercolour paper onto an easel. If you prefer to stretch the watercolour paper, staple the paper to a piece of plywood at the corners.

  4. 4

    Apply gesso to the watercolour paper using a paintbrush according to instructions. Coat the entire surface of the watercolour paper. Allow the paper to dry completely. Sand lightly. Apply a second coat. Allow the paper to dry. Lightly sand the surface, creating a smooth and even surface. Remove the staples from the stretching, if necessary.

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