Why I always stretch paper
This is a plein air sketch I did a few weeks ago at our week-end workshop at Clunton. I was using 300gsm Fabriano Artistico Not. It's a nice pure cotton paper but with a rather bland grain. I was working with the sheet held on a piece of mdf by two bulldog clips. Since the workshop it has been stored flat between the pages of a sketchbook.
After a day in the field you face the dilemma of which of the sketches to taken further. Usually I hold the best as reference for the future. A few like this I decide to take further. It's obvious from the photograph that the sheet has cockled. It's tempting to try a quick fix by taping the sides down with masking tape but that could cause the centre to lift and there will still be some cockling when the masking tape is removed.
Others may have a different solution but the only sure way to achieve the nice flat surface I like to work on is to stretch. With partly completed work I only spray water on the back before taping the sides with good old gumstrip.
Incidentally there's an unightly 'bloom' just above the ladder on the left. This was once regarded as a serious fault but I notice Shirley Trevena frequently makes use of the effect in her paintings. How taste changes! I might be tempted to exploit the 'fault' in this work and call it a 'happy accident.' They sometimes happen don't they?