Many times over the past few years I have been asked how to cut from a roll of watercolor paper. It never dawned on me this could be a problem until I was made aware of the very awkward and inefficient ways some people go about it. Let's make it quick and easy, shall we?
My favorite paper is Fabriano Artistico, 140 lb. hot press or cold press. It measures 55" (140 cm) wide, and 30' (914 cm) long.
1. Place the end of the roll under a carpet, rug, or anything heavy -- books or a piece of wood can be used.
2. Unroll it to the desired length and stop it with something heavy. Again, books or a piece of wood (shown) can be used. Be careful not to dent or mark the paper. Now the important part: spray a light mist of water on the surface. Wait a few minutes. This will relax the paper and prevent it from rolling up again.
3. After deciding the best way to orient the desired shape within the roll (I try not to waste paper), measure the dimensions. I usually make the piece a bit larger than the actual painting will be so I have a border to work with, and to give me more options in framing.
4. I usually make two marks with the pencil - one on each side - but if you don't have a straight edge long enough, you might need to make three.
5. Use a long straight edge to draw a pencil line across.
6. Cut with scissors or utility knife. You can also fold and tear if you prefer a deckle edge. I save the scraps and let my daughter paint on them. The roll then goes back in the box, propped up in the corner of my studio, until I need the next piece.
Note: It has come to my attention that some people invest in a roll and proceed to cut it into a variety of sizes, or even cut it to standard 22 x 30 pieces. This completely misses the point of buying a roll of paper. The purpose of the roll is to do large paintings that can't be done on standard available sizes. My advice is to only cut pieces as you need them.