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Nostalgic drawing for Christmas - lady on the beach at Mornington Peninsula 1950s

I don't get to do these types of drawings as often as I'd like, but occasionally the the call is there. This drawing was done for a lovely lady in Melbourne who lost her mother this year. She commissioned this piece to give to her siblings for Christmas in memory of their beautiful Mum, Gwen. I think the photo was taken in the 1950s and she apparently loved going to the beach and feeding the seagulls. It's a lovely photo and captures a carefree young woman enjoying the simple pleasures of a time past.

Whilst the original photo itself is very small and not in sharp focus, it was a bit of a challenge to draw this image as an A3 drawing. It also took longer than I expected and I had some trouble getting her face just right due to the lack of clarity in the photo, but in the end it's pretty close.

It was posted to the client in a postal tube for protection, BUT when it arrived, the tube had been dented and it resulted in the drawing being quite badly creased in two places. I was mortified and just couldn't believe it! It's not like I could just send off the same thing again and it was getting close to that Christmas cut off date! I didn't have time to redraw it.

So I set to work working out how to fix it and had the client send it back to me. She put it in a new postal tube—and would you believe it—it arrived damaged too!!! Must have been the mad rush with Australia Post and something very heavy landing on it! I wasn't impressed! So I set to work to try and remedy the drawing. I did the steps below and successfully removed the creases, then wrapped it in cardboard, then bubble wrap, and posted it in a really large tube. Happy to report it arrived safe and sound with no damage! PHEW!

Merry Christmas to Gwen in heaven.

How to remove creases from a drawing on watercolour paper?

The process I used is very similar to one that I use to stretch watercolour paper for a watercolour painting. When doing this process with an actual image, it's not for the faint-hearted...the last thing you want to do is wreck your beautiful artwork! Do not use an iron to flatten a drawing!

  1. Soak the paper in clean water for around 5 minutes in a large tub.

  2. Prepare a clean, flat, water-resistant board - make sure it is large enough for the drawing. I use a laminated board and dampen it with water all over.

  3. Remove the drawing from the tub, let excess water run off, then carefully place the paper on the prepared board (face up). Gently push any air bubbles to the edges of the paper, taking care not to damage your artwork.

  4. Cut 4 strips of gummed watercolour tape to size. Quickly dip them in the water and place them on each edge of the paper covering roughly 1cm of paper. Carefully dab off excess water with paper towel.

  5. Carefully place some clean, dry paper towel over the image making sure that the edges of the towel is not overlapping, thus avoiding denting the paper. Place a heavy flat, weight over the entire paper. I use another drawing board, but you could use a large book - just make sure it covers the whole paper in one go so there is even weight distribution.

  6. Leave for 24 hours.

  7. Check the next day. The drawing will more than likely still be damp. Wipe down the boards and repeat Step 5 again. Leave for another 24 hours.

  8. The next time you check it should be dry and ready for the tape to be removed. Carefully remove the tape (if you can) or cut it off the edge of the paper with a sharp stanley knife.

  9. If you find that it is a little buckled (but shouldn't be), simply use some more paper towel on the bottom and top of the paper, and weight it down with top board/weight again, and leave for another 24 hours. That should flatten it pretty well and then it's ready for framing.

For this piece of art the offending creases were successfully removed. I was lucky that it was a graphite drawing and not a water-based painting, thus there was never going to be an issue with colours running!

If you need to do it to an actual watercolour painting, I suggest you modify the above procedure. Instead of soaking the paper, spray the back of it with water. Place it on a board with paper towel on the bottom, then place another layer of paper towel on top, then weight it down with a flat board/book/weight over the entire paper (no need to use tape). Leave it for 24 hours. It should be dry after 24 hours as it wouldn't have been 'soaked' like the above method.

Gwen on the Mornington Peninsula beach.jpg

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