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Friday, December 12, 2014

Steps to a Commission: Part One How to Flatten Rolled Uart Paper

'Wildflower Study #1'             8x10               pastel            ©Karen Margulis
 I am ending the year in a really big way! Big paintings are on my easel this week.  I have been commissioned to paint two 30 x 40 pastels on paper for an area hospital. They will be installed in the visitor elevator lobby. I was excited and honored when I got the word.  But then reality set in. 30x40 is huge! I have not painted anything that big and they wanted the paintings on paper. It was a good excuse to order a roll of Uart paper!

The roll of paper arrived and the first step was to cut it to size and get it to lay flat. They didn't want it mounted but I ordered archival foam core 30x40 to use as a support. I had hear stories of the challenges of getting the paper to flatten and stay flat.  I was a bit worried when I cut the two pieces and they curled right up.


Oops! I can't paint on paper like this!

I did some research and read about rolling the paper in the opposite direction. OK that can't hurt. So I rolled each piece opposite the curl and secured the rolls with several rubber bands. I left them rolled this way for a few days. I was busy with other things so I had time to let them stay rolled.


The paper after it was rolled in the opposite direction. It is almost flat!

After a few days I took off the rubber band and was happy to discover that the paper was almost flat. If I was going to mount the paper it would have worked just fine but I wanted it to be perfectly flat. Another flattening tip suggested that you spritz the paper lightly with water.


I took out a small spray bottle of water and lightly sprayed the front sanded side of the paper. I didn't soak the paper but just gave it a light spray all over. I put the paper on my large studio table covered it with blotting paper (from my mono print experiments). I then weighted down the papers with the heaviest books in my library. I have some big, heavy art books!

My heavy-weight art books hard at work!

 I wasn't in a rush to take the books off since I was going to be out of town for two weeks. That gave the paper plenty of time to get nice and flat. When I returned home it was time for the moment of truth. Would the water spritz and heavy books do the trick?


Perfectly flat Uart paper
Yes!  The papers were perfectly flat after I removed the books. The paper was now ready for painting. I secured the paper to the foamcore using hinged tape.

 [Since I first prepared the paper I have done this same process with less time spent on the rolling and books. I had success flattening the paper. In one case I sprayed the back of the paper and must not have gotten even coverage so I had some bubbles.  From now on I will be more careful and only spray the front sanded side of the paper. I plan to prepare several smaller pieces of the rolled paper and let it stay under books for a week so I have a stash of flat paper ready to go! ]

 I was getting excited to start the paintings but there were still a few more things to do to prepare.  After all that flattening I wanted to be sure I got the paintings right the first time! Tomorrow I will share the next step in the commission process.

All ready to paint!
The painting in today's post is one of the small studies I did in preparation for the large paintings. The study is 8x10 on Uart.

7 comments:

Anna Lisa Leal said...

This a a fabulous post!! And very timely! Thank you for sharing Karen!

Susan Williamson said...

When I gather my courage to paint larger, this advice will be a gigantic help getting started. Thank you for your relentless generosity and hard work. Have a wonderful holiday. You deserve it!

robertsloan2art said...

Wow! That's some incredible range! You go from doing minis to 30" x 40" - amazing. Please do keep writing about this commission project as it progresses, I can't wait to see how you handle the giant paintings and their composition.

One of my teachers, Johannes Vloothuis, suggested that in very large paintings it's possible to build it up without one particular focal area but just a lot of interesting eye paths to different points of interest. As long as none of them lead out of the painting and some lead deep into the painting it's all good. I'm wondering if that's something you'll do with this or if it'll be more like your smaller ones or something else. Can't wait to see it.

Thanks for the lesson on uncurling paper. That's so awesome you got a whole roll of Uart too - bet you saved some money on that, the rolls are very economical. Awesome!

Kristan said...

What is hinged tape, and how do you work with it to mount the paper to foam core?

Karen said...

Thank everyone! And thanks for asking me to clarify hinged tape. Here is a blog post I wrote about it.http://kemstudios.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-biggest-pastel-pet-peeve-and-how-i.html

Kristan said...

Thank you!

Nancy L. Vance said...

Thanks Karen, I too was trying to figure out how to flatten the roll! I shared a roll with a friend, and my portion is larger than a queen size bed - I laid it out to see if that would help. I had experimented on a small piece, spraying water on both sides. Mine bubbled too, so I think water should be used on the sanded side, like you said. I've been mounting mine with ATG tape. Seems to work for me, even with wet underpaintings. After you said to reverse the roll, I flipped over my huge piece on the bed. Hopefully that will help too.