Masking Tips – Stopping the tears

Stopping the tears will stop the tears of frustration.

There’s nothing worse than laboring for hours over a painting only to have the finished result ruined when the paper rips as you remove the masking. It’s a common problem when using masking fluid.

I have several masking tips to help eliminate the problem as there are a number of factors to consider. Today’s tip is …

Use the right paper.

Generally speaking soft sized papers are more prone to tearing so are best avoided, if you want to use masking fluid.

I use a lot of drawing in preparation for masking and have ruined many pictures using soft paper. I had major problems with this painting of Milton Keynes Theatre, because the paper was soft sized.

©2012 - Cathy Read - Land of Make Believe- Mixed Media - 40x50cm
©2012 – Cathy Read – Land of Make Believe- Mixed Media – 40x50cm

And I used very good quality paper, not the type you get in budget buys. Ironically some budget watercolour papers can be better for masking than the more expensive ones, but generally don’t risk it. If you are doing any extensive pencil work prior to painting, and are likely to need rub it out, you risk weakening the paper. Any action that will challenge the paper surface will increase the likelihood of tearing. The more vigorous and energetic you rub out, the worse it gets.

Over the years, since I’ve been using masking fluid to draw with, I’ve experimented with a variety of papers and these are the ones I’ve found robust enough for the task.

Fabriano Artistico, Daler/Rowney Langton, and  Bockingford, These are papers I’ve used extensively with great success. I’ve also used Arches paper successfully but not extensively.

There may be others papers as well. I would advise experimenting first before you commit to a major piece of work. you’ll thank me as it will be time well spent.

So there you go, check your paper is up to the task and you’re on your way to rip free painting.

More Masking tips to follow soon.

If you know someone who might be interested in this article, then please share it with them.

The Masking Tips posts are aimed to help you with the use of masking fluid in watercolour painting.

Want more practical advice? Then why not join me at my next workshop?

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