Don’t Use This Tape To Attach Paper To Your Board!

“Blue and green should never be seen” – ever heard that saying? It’s an oldie that generally applied to fashion and home decor. Personally, I could never understand it as I’ve always loved blues and greens together – think green trees against a blue sky!! BUT, I’ve found a place where blue and green really should not be seen. It relates to the way you attach paper to your board. 

Huh, you say? 

I’m talking about Painters Tape – you know, the one that comes in blue, green, and lime green. I see these tapes being used to attach paper to board all the time!

So what’s wrong with that? 

Before I respond, let me first say that Painters Tape has some good things going for it: 

  • It doesn’t get sticky and is removable even after some time has gone by (unlike masking tape eeww) 
  • The price is reasonable 

But here’s where the problem comes in….

Colours affect each other. Put one colour beside another and it will look a certain way. Place it beside a different colour and by golly, that original colour looks different again! Think simultaneous contrast! Each colour’s behaviour is affected by its neighbour and the more of the neighbour there is, the more it affects the original colour. (Can you relate to that metaphor??)

So, imagine if you will, your paper is attached to your board with bright green tape…on all four sides. As you work away on your piece, that surrounding green colour will affect the way you work, the hues you choose, the intensity you pick. Much of what you do in the piece will be affected by that surrounding green colour. And then you remove the tape and see a painting that has changed before your very eyes. That’s because, with the tape gone, a new environment has arisen, one where the brightly coloured tape, and its influence, is absent. 

I used to do that – use coloured tape to attach paper to my board. (You can see me using coloured tape in some of my early YouTube videos albeit only a tiny amount.) I soon figured out that the coloured tape was affecting the outcome of my painting and stopped this practice!

To give you a visual idea of what I mean, let’s have a look at some of my artwork digitally surrounded by the various colours of Painter’s Tape. I’ve also included the work surrounded by black, white, and off-white to show the difference between the neutrals and the brightly coloured options.

Here’s the first set. The painting – “Party Frock,” Unison Colour pastels on UART 320, 12 x 7 inches, available – is one you’ve seen twice before – once in an earlier blog on translating your thumbnails and another time in framing ideas!!

The first three images are enclosed by imaginary blue, green, and lime green tape. The second three are surrounded in white, black, and off-white.

Different aren’t they?

(And wow, that black surround, with its value contrast, really catches our eye but perhaps not in the best way…)

Now have a look at this next painting (which I don’t think has made an appearance on the blog until now).

Gail Sibley, “Time To Go,” Unison Colour pastels on UART 320, 4 x 10 inches. Sold.

One last set. This painting – “Sipping Patrón,” Unison Colour pastels on UART 400, 6 x 9 inches – made its appearance in this blog about seeing colour in greys.

Can you see how the colour of the tape really affects the colours in the painting? Try blocking off one example from the others and then look at the next version. Compare the difference between the two and see how my painting “feels.”

So let’s go back to imagining you standing in front of your blank paper ready to paint. As you pastel, you choose and adjust colours according to the subject and your own expression AND also the colour that surrounds your paper. So your colour choices are being partly influenced by the colour of the tape!

In the examples above, I created each painting with a neutral surround so the work wasn’t influenced by the border as I worked, or should I say, wasn’t influenced in a substantial way. But here, surrounding the digital version of the painting with colour does show you how drastically that colour changes the look and feel of the painting. This is especially true of the bright colours. Imagine if I was adding a mat the colour of Painters Tape!! That’s probably not going to happen, is it?!

So the outcome of all this?

Use off-white tape to attach your paper to the board! Or white or black. But please, no brightly coloured tape.  

You don’t need to throw out your coloured Painter’s tape. Perhaps use it as the under-tape in a hinge or better yet, use it for something else…like wrapping up your paintings with glassine!

So tell me, what’s the colour of the tape you use to attach paper to your board? Let me know in the comments! And if you have any more thoughts you’d like to add to this topic, please add them.

That’s it for this time! Thanks for being here 😁

~ Gail

PS. You can see by these small thumbnails of the paintings above that not only does the hue affect the results, so does the value of a colour (some are a lot darker than others).

PPS. Here’s tape I like using:

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32 thoughts on “Don’t Use This Tape To Attach Paper To Your Board!”

    1. Hah hah…that’s awesome Kathy! I need to fix that up for myself… Do you use the whiteboard on an easel or the wall? I’d like one on the easel so I can tilt everything forward slightly.

      1. I use the same – no tape. I use a black foam board covered in self adhesive magnetic sheet and small magnets. You can wipe it down when done. Works great!

  1. Great blog! I used to use light purple painters tape, but switched to off white wide masking tape (not too sticky) to not distract from what I’m painting. A side comment: I paint in our dining room – converted into my art space – the paint on the walls and the overhead lighting often add a golden hue to my paintings, so I’ve learned to take the painting outside at various stages to see how it looks in natural light – what a difference!!

    1. Lori glad to hear you made the switch 😁
      And thanks for bringing up the lighting aspect – soooooo important. Light and colour…so much influence in all sorts of ways!

  2. I agree 100%. I have seen some painters in plein air events using painters tape and my eye goes bonkers. I use white artist tape available at Blick and other art supply outlets. It is a tacky tape but is removed easily. It is very useful for taping glassine over a finished work while in transit during a plein air event or when storing works. I use white or black foam core to tape the work to while painting so it is more or less neutral as you explain. Foam core keeps the work stable on the easel and the tape keeps the work in one place so you can pay attention to the painting instead of having things move around or get caught in the breeze. I always get 3 rolls when I stock up because it is something I do not want run out of. Excellent demo for why visually!

    1. I laughed Diane at your description of being driven bonkers by all the painter’s tape in use!!
      Thanks for sharing what you use including the borad. It’s my plan to start using foam core as a backing so your response has reminded me to get on with it! Mind you, it will get dirty fairly quickly! How do you cope?
      I think this is the tape you mean..?

  3. Hi there.
    I use framers tape, a light brown colour which is pretty good, I think, as it is a neutral colour.
    Interesting article.
    Julie x

    1. Interesting Julie! Do you mean the gummed brown tape? I know it will release when moistened slightly. It does seem a quite involved process. Can you tell us more about it?

  4. For a while I used the blue painters’ tape (because I had it and it DID remove easily) then put regular masking tape (because I had it) OVER the painters’s tape to cover the color. Just a tip to use before one can get some good artist’s tape!

    1. Therese, thank you for sharing that tip!
      And I had to laugh because that’s exactly what I still do occasionally because yes, I have a lot of painters tape and it is removable! I use it as the under part of a hinge and like you, use masking tape to cover it.
      Perhaps tomorrow (when it’s light) I’ll add a photo of it.

  5. I use white tape and then put black tape over it towards the end to see what else the painting might need before calling it done. Sometimes I use the blue tape but on the back of the board so it can’t be seen.

  6. Yes, I agree, the colour of the tape can be distracting and I’ve used coloured tapes when they’re on offer – don’t judge! (By the way, the old saying, as I know it, is ‘red and green shouldn’t be seen’, referring to them being contrast colours, but I never understood that either, lol)

    1. Hah hah – no judgement here Jackie!
      It’s funny, when I was researching for this article, I came across that saying but I’d never heard it before. Funny all these sayings that can seem so silly now.

    1. Thanks Kathy. Is it a special brand? I find with masking tape that over time, if left, it will be difficult to remove, leaving a sticky residue. We’d love to know more!

  7. Great article especially with those examples! In my very first pastel class Michael Chesley Johnson told me about the coloured tape problem so I’ve always used neutral tape. It’s hard to find lower tack artists tape so I like your idea of using coloured tape in the back hinges!

    1. That’s so great that you got the info from Michael right up front Helen!!
      I like using the painter’s tape for the back hinge because it’s cheaper hah hah and then I cover it with even cheaper masking tape! You can see that if you look closely at my Demos in the IGNITE! membership 😬

  8. I never realized that the color of the green colored ribbon I used at the beginning affected the color perception of the work so much. Luckily, I’ve been using clear sticky packing tape or cream tape for a while now.
    I love your blog, Gail. Thank you for all your valuable advice.

    1. I know, it’s crazy isn’t it?! And yet we know/understand that colour affects colour. I’m not sure why there’s been such a blind spot around this use of coloured tape..?
      How fab that you are already using neutral or clear tape.
      Thanks so much for your kind words Lise- I do appreciate them!!

  9. Loved this post and seeing all the piece framed with the different colors. It doubled as a mini class in Mat color selection: contrast vs complimentary
    I use painter’s tape but I affix it to the back of whatever paper I’m using so you don’t see it! This means I probably use more than I would of a neutral color because I have to loop it so it sticks to both sides, but it works.

  10. I don’t use tape all the way round the edges. I attach my paper to the top of the board with a couple of bulldog clips, then a small strip of brown tape across the bottom 2 corners just to stop the paper from flapping! A great article Gail.

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Gail Sibley

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My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

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