Banner painting

Here’s a better version of the painting I used for my banner. It was a private commission and is the largest watercolour I have ever painted – 38×28 inches (96x71cm). The biggest problem was in stretching the paper; the only paper I had this size was Arches 90lb in a roll and I knew it would buckle horrendously without stretching. So I wet the paper, taped it to a board and allowed it to dry naturally. But I underestimated the forces involved when the paper shrunk; I knew there was a possibility the paper could rip, but in this case it just pulled away from the gummed tape. I ended up using PVA glue around the edges, together with more tape and staples (from a staple gun). Thankfully it worked!

Click pic for a bigger version

Bayfordbury House - watercolour
Bayfordbury House - watercolour


12 thoughts on “Banner painting

  1. Hi Keith thank-you for commenting on my blog.
    I was just having a quick look at your blog again when my 15 year old son wandered in and saw your banner. His spontaneous reaction was “Wow that’s good , looks like a modern Turner doesn’t it?”


    1. You have a very perceptive son šŸ™‚
      As much as I appreciate the comparison, however, I’m not sure that I deserve it. It’s put me in a good mood to kick off the week though – be sure to thank him for me.


  2. Hey thanks for this tip – framers sometimes take me to task on my unstretched work. My stretching worked and I have started work on my new project – I hope you don’t mind – I have linked to your site as I talk about it
    Cheers hey


  3. Thanks Stephen. I know what you mean about stretched paper being precious; that’s why I don’t often stretch the paper beforehand. I kept this one rather quiet, but in reality I stretch my paintings when they are finished! The principle is the same, except that I lay the painting face down on heavy clean white paper and spray the back with water. I have to be VERY careful the water doesn’t run under the surface – this would ruin the painting…. After smoothing it with a damp sponge a couple of times it’s ready for stretching – painted side up of course.


  4. Wow – this is wonderful – thanks Keith for putting this up. 38 x 38 is very big for watercolour. I have just this evening taped and stapled a sheet of a similar size onto a board for a painting I have been thinking about for a while. It is 300g Arches which is quite thick – It is drying next to me as I write – I will see in the morning whether it works. I don’t usually stretch as it makes the paper too precious for me.

    I am amazed at the glow you have achieved in this painting. I see you have contrasted the warm yellows in the building with a purple dark within the blue. But it is all so subtle. This is inspiring work and humbling.


  5. As you say, cut around the painting with a sharp knife. As for getting the tape off the board, this can be little more tricky… The boards I use for stretching don’t get used for anything else, so a build up of tape isn’t a problem. When I have enough layers, however, I can usually prise up an edge and peel off great swathes of the stuff like tree bark. Very therapeutic – even better than popping bubble-wrap.


  6. Thanks , Keith. Maybe I’ll give this another go. From your description, I may have been wetting the tape too much. How do you get the painting off?Cut around with a knife? Then, How do you get the tape off your board?


  7. A common mistake is to soak the paper too much; if you leave it in the bath for an hour, the consequent shrinkage is incredible! I just wet one side with a sponge a couple of times and after about 20 minutes I remove any surface moisture with a squeezed out sponge before taping it down. I hold the tape down on the table, press a damp sponge down on the glue side and pull the tape through – it’s important not to wet it too much. Once I have taped all 4 sides of the paper, I rub it down hard with a clean cloth.

    It’s important to let the paper dry naturally – if you try to speed things along with a hair-dryer or radiator it will end in tears!

    Hope this helps.


  8. I have admired this painting on your banner each time I visit your site. I’m glad you mentioned the 90 lb paper because I’m working on Waterford Saunders 90 lb right now and experiencing the same tribulations. Every time I’ve tried to stretch paper, I’ve failed. So….it has been deal with some ripples.


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