Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Asking Advice...

...Can be difficult for some people.

Much like the stereotype of men refusing to ask for directions even though they are completely and hopelessly lost.

While I don't believe the latter rings true to it's stereotype, the former definitely holds weight.  At least in my world it does.  Especially if it's asking advice from a stranger.

It's not so much as a "pride thing" as it is a "judge-y thing", I think.  Certainly so, if it's face to face. 

Will this person think my question is dumb?
Will they think I'm dumb for not knowing the answer?
What if I don't understand the answer?

However, the anonymity of the internets makes these things much easier to swallow, as is research when said request for advice goes by unanswered.  

Google is such a know-it-all.  

I recently fell into a situation where I asked advice of a group of individuals with regards to materials, and the inquiry was completely overlooked.  After waiting a sufficient amount of time for a response, I left the group altogether.   

Perhaps I misunderstood the reason for the group, or perhaps the description outlining the purpose of the group could have been a bit clearer so that I might have avoided the situation.  Whatever the case may be, I ended up researching my question on my own to find the answer.  
I would have loved to gain the invaluable insight of seasoned "professionals" on the subject.

Instead I found DIY information.

Totally not begrudging DIY information at all, mind you.  I have found countless crafty goodness that way.  I think I was just sort of hoping to connect on an intellectual level with others and tap into their experiences and make connections.  

Because of my experience, I felt that I should put my two cents out into the universe.  Or at least my own findings on the matter even if it does broadcast in neon letters "Novice Here".

Hey, I can't develop my skill, if  I don't learn, right?

The subject in which I refer is the simple fact of watercolor paper curling, warping, or crinkling after exposed to a wet on wet technique and dried.  LOOK!  I even did a little test example for you -

Even if the paper is secured while I'm working through a piece, at the end when I lift it off the surface the curling/warping still happens.

I made my own assumptions on why this was happening through the first 15 pieces I produced.

Brand of paper?
Paper weight?
Cold press vs hot press?

This list, incidentally went on in my head.

After my research?

It basically gave me a big fat "maybe" to all those questions above.  But I learned that "stretching" my lower weight paper might help with my paper issues.

So of course, I started to experiment.

Basically, you are supposed to take your lower weight watercolor paper (mine is 140lb XL Canson cold press paper) and submerge it into a shallow bath of room temperature water anywhere from 10 minutes up to 15-20.  This causes the paper to expand.  It's sort of like a science experiment where you have to do some trial and error to find the right combination of paper type and time.  I think brand definitely has a lot to do with your timing too.  Apparently there is a fine line of too little bath time to too much bath time.

After the ten minute mark, you can check the paper by pulling down one of the corners.  If it snaps back into place, it hasn't soaked long enough.  If the corner stays when you pull it down, then you've soaked long enough.  Should your paper corner fall of its own accord, then you've soaked it way to long.

Once the paper has soaked enough, it needs to be laid out and secured on a board of some kind.  For me, I have a foam core board that I use.  Laying wet paper out on the board, I take a damp sponge and gently push out any trapped air bubbles underneath.  Then I staple all edges to the board and lay flat to dry overnight.

I did 8 1/2" x 11" sheets here for 8" x 10" pictures.   You can stretch a larger piece of paper and cut away the edges later, if you prefer.  I removed the papers from the board once dried and secured them elsewhere for me to work on.  The paper still warped a little bit so I think I will try to work off of this board itself and remove the finished piece afterwards for trimming and framing. Plus increase my soak time - I think I removed them too early from their bath.

Also, weight can play a major factor in avoiding paper curl as well.  The larger weights will help reduce that, but the trade off here is that they are hella expensive.

Like WHOA.

One sheet of Arches 300 lb cold press watercolor paper runs for 20 bucks at Michaels.


I'm just gonna let that sink in here for a minute.

My goal is to eventually create illustrations on a much larger scale.  Rolls of WC paper are many and expensive.  Before I'm comfortable committing to one particular brand/weight/type, I will need to experiment more.  Incidentally, because of the cost factor here, it may take me a while.

At least I didn't jump the gun and commit to one randomly only to find out I hate it! ;}

I think Mike would probably agree with that assessment as well.

Happy creating!



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