Jun 22, 2017

Framing Watercolour Without Glass - Revisited - Painting and Drawing Tips


Watercolours have wonderful colours.  Watercolours are full of surprises.  Watercolours are versatile.

But . . .
Watercolours require a mat, glass and frame.  It seems so easy to work on canvas; when the painting is done, you're done.
Forest Trail - 4.5 x 6.5 - Watercolour mounted on Wood Cradle

I have looked at framing without glass for my watercolours a number of times but somehow it has not appealed to me.  I am not even sure I have a good reason. When watercolours are varnished they lose some of their texture, they become a little shiny, nothing dramatic, they are just different.  And that can be in a good way.  See what I mean, no real reason.

However . . .
Side view of Forest Trail mounted on Wood Cradle - 4.5 x 6.5

I find myself attracted to the block art and decided I should once again visit framing without glass. I already had wooden cradles prepared so I jumped in and gave it a try.  (Several years ago I used this method to finish the front and back covers of my Journal.  I must admit they still look awesome. You can see my Journal here)

Here is what I did and yes, it turned out great!

Mounting a Watercolour on a Wood Block

1.  Prepare the wood cradle: paint the sides with black acrylic paint (or whatever colour you want to finish the sides in) be sure and extend the colour onto the face of the block 1/4 inch.  This will ensure no missed spots when you put your painting on.  Seal the face, I used 2 coats of Golden GAC-100 Multi-Purpose Acrylic Polymer.  It can also be sealed with Gesso

2.  Paint your picture: In my case my wood block was 4.5 x 6.5 so my picture measured 5 x 7 so it could be trimmed to fit the block. I also had a 1/2 inch of white space around the edge so there was room to maneuver.
Forest Trail completed - you can see light lines just inside the edge of the picture that shows what will be trimmed off once it has been attached. 

3.  Use Matte Medium (Golden) to attach picture to the wood cradle: Using a foam brush I put matte medium on the wood cradle and then placed my picture on top.  I rubbed from the center out to make sure there were no bubbles and everything was flat and even.  Then I flipped the whole thing over and put a weight on it. This was left over night.

4. Trim picture to fit the Cradle: The next day I checked that the bond was good for my picture then I used an X-acto Knife, with a new blade to trim.  To do this place the block, picture facing down on a cutting mat and trim as closely as possible around the block.  You will have a bit of a rough edge, this can be sanded with fine sandpaper (600 Grit)  Remember to sand down away from the picture so you don't disturb your picture or pull it away from the block.
Picture mounted and trimmed. The white edge of the paper now needs to be addressed. 

5.  Paint Your White Line: Yes, you will have a wide edge of your paper left once you have attached your picture.  Use a brush or black permanent marker to paint that edge black.

6.  Varnish: Use a spray acrylic varnish to finish your work.  There are several on the market, use one that is for watercolour.  A Gloss finish will give your work a bit of a shine and will make your colours stand out while a Matte finish seems to dull the colours a bit.  There are many formulas for spraying but everyone seems to agree you need several.  I do 6 layers, allowing each one to dry before putting on the next coat.  With a small wood block the art is handled more, so I like a good layer of protection.

You're done. Add your information on the back, stand it up and enjoy.

There are several sites and videos on Youtube that will give you a more detailed step by step, one I found particularly useful was by Kelly McKernan.  She mounts her watercolour paper on the cradle before painting.  I kind of like painting first and then mounting, just in case my picture doesn't work.  But that of course is personal preference.

What do you like to do? How big a project do you mount on wood cradles? I am going to try a few more small pictures first but I am interested in trying larger ones as well.  Kelly used a 14 x 18 cradle in her example.

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La Petite Gallery said...

I really like your post. Yvonne

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Thanks, let me know if you. Give it a try, I would love to see your work on blocks.