Why Does Your Watercolor Peel? Causes and Fixes

Why Does Your Watercolor Peel? Causes and Fixes

For a beginner, sometimes it can be a bit tough to figure out watercolor. And one of the common problems is the paper peeling. You have changed the watercolor, techniques, and even different paper brands, but it’s still not fixing.

In this situation, it’s natural to wonder; Why does my watercolor paper peel? Well, there is a variety of possibilities. Perhaps you might be using excessive water, or maybe the quality of the paper isn’t up to the mark.

Keep reading, so we can give you more information on Why Does Your Watercolor Peel? Causes and Fixes.

Causes of Watercolor Paper Peeling

Watercolors peel off from the paper or turn flaky due to several reasons. We’ll discuss them here to help you identify the reason behind your troubles.

Using Too Much Water

While painting a picture, when a watercolor artist uses too much water on the paper surface, then it cannot soak all of it properly. This results in the peeling of watercolor. The wet paper tends to be uneven, and hence the quality of the painting deteriorates.

Using Low Graded Paper

Sometimes, people use poor grade paper. They are unaware that one of the essential steps of watercolor is to use proper and good quality watercolor paper.

When an artist uses a comparatively lighter paper of lower price, the same problem of watercolor peeling arises. Whenever a stroke of color is brushed on the paper, the surface seems to be flaky, and the paper peels off at times.

Coloring at the Same Spot Multiple Times

When artists sit to paint, Sometimes, when not doing a painting on a horizontal surface, you may paint on the same area over and over, and as the watercolor is liquid in nature, the lightweight paper cannot absorb it fully. For this reason, many problems like watercolor peeling occur. In addition to this, when the wet painting is completely dry, paper buckling may also happen.

How to Stop Watercolor Paper Peeling?

There’s no one single solution to this problem. You have to ensure several things to avoid paper peeling in the future. Below, we’ve detailed some steps that you can follow to make sure that your watercolor paper never peels.

Getting the Ratio of Water and Color Right

At the beginning level of painting with watercolors, when you just start to be acquainted with the uses of the primary colors, one often tends to use too much water. But as we already know, it can be a fatal mistake.

To avoid water paper peeling issue, it’s imperative for you to get the ratio of color and water rightOpens in a new tab.. But the question is, how much water should one use in watercolor painting?

There’s no fixed answer to this question, sadly. Because you’re using water to lighten the color. So, it’s up to you to decide how much water you want to use.

But it’s better to use less water at first so that the mixture does not get diluted beforehand, which eventually peels, buckles, and warps the paper.

One way to guide yourself on this is doing the water test to your paper. This should not take too long.

Amanda WileyOpens in a new tab.

Using Paper of Good Quality Grade

As the poor graded paper cannot soak water properly, it’s important to paint on proper heavy-weight paper. Get quality paper that can handle any kind of warping, such as Savoir Faire Fabriano Pad, Strathmore 400 Series Watercolor Pad, Canson XL Series Watercolor Pad, Arteza Watercolor Pad, Arches Watercolor Paper Pad, etc.

Handmade paperOpens in a new tab. is also suitable in this case as it’s a really good option, as it can endure the heavy wash of water, rubbing, and scraping.

If the paper to be painted on is not heavy enoughOpens in a new tab., it will easily tend to buckleOpens in a new tab., bend and warp when the paints are added to it.

Preparing the Watercolor Paper

Before painting with watercolor and hoping to have the best environment around you, you should make some basic preparationsOpens in a new tab.. That will help the process of painting easier and mistake-free. Let’s get to know about the preparations below:

Stretching Paper

You may stretch the paper on a strong surface like a drawing board. This is generally done by soaking, taping, and stapling. At first, you need to soak the paper in fiber and let the fibers relax.

You can use your brushes to make the paper wet. After that, it needs to be attached to the rigid board with the help of masking tape or staple. The taping method is quite easy.

This paper glued to the surface needs to be dried before applying paint. When the paper dries, you may start to brush water and paint on the same paper. These methods will let the paper remain firm and not let it curl, warp or peel after drying.

Using Watercolor Block

This is similar to the mechanism of stretching the paper except that it’s ready-made. In a watercolor blockOpens in a new tab., the sheets remain stretched and fixed to the block upon which you are advised to draw.

After drawing on the top sheet, it can be detached, and you can put paint on the other loose sheets. This board helps in preventing the peeling and distorting of the paper.

Not Painting the Same Area Again and Again

During the process of painting, one should put a stroke of color on the same area once or twice instead of coloring again and again. This won’t let the colors peel off and also help in enhancing the pigment of the art.

Final Words

As you can see, the reasons and solutions to this problem are simple. By just following the suggestions above, you can easily prevent paper peeling. And if you implement what you’ve learned here, you’ll never have to ask yourself – why does my watercolor paper peel?

But if you still got any questions, please feel free to drop me an email. We are all learning!

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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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