12 Jun 2010

Watercolor covered with resin – alternative to traditional framing

Posted by Moshe Mikanovsky

When I was preparing for my recent art fair, I spent quite a lot of money on traditional framing to all my watercolors. At one point, I was a bit “tired” from this investment. Not that it doesn’t worth it – on the contrary – good looking framing for paintings could be one of the best ways to show professionalism and to attract buyers. But, I wanted to try a different way, something that will not cost me so much, and will still be attractive to the buyers.

At the same time I remembered what my mentor always told me, that I should start painting on canvas or board instead of on paper because work on paper doesn’t sell as well as work on canvas. It is not that people don’t appreciate the amount of work put into a watercolor or a fine art print, but people still love the look of a painting on canvas better.

So, I decided to try something for the show. I thought “if I want to cover my watercolors with protective layer similar to glass, and present it as work on canvas, maybe I should try resin?”

I never worked with resin, and I also wasn’t even sure that this is what it’s called. In the past, whenever I saw artwork covered with resin, I was not very excited about the look. But now, it sounds like an interesting solution for an old “problem”. I also had no idea if watercolor paintings on paper can sustain the resin, and what effect the resin will do to the surface. So I started researching online. I googled “watercolor paintings covered with resin“, “resin artwork“, etc. I couldn’t really find anywhere discussing resin on watercolors. But I did find eventually few YouTube videos. One of them was of artist David Zak’s, “LESSON: How to Resin your Artwork (clear coat)“. After watching the video, and finding David’s website, I find that he lives in the Greater Toronto Area, so I contacted him with questions about resin and about using it on watercolors. Couple of days later, David sent me a detailed email with pictures of samples he did with a watercolor painting. And few more emails after, I found myself at David’s studio, resining 4 small pieces!


Resined watercolors mounted on panel. The Seedlings series

Resined watercolor mounted on panel. Blue Chamsa.

David was very helpful showing me and letting me use some of his resin to try it out. Thank you David for all your help!!!

So here is what I did:

  1. I got four 6″x6″x1.5″ beech wood panels at DeSerres. I am sure you can get them at any art supplies store next to you.
  2. I painted the panels with two layers of white acrylic paint. This is in order to prevent the wood’s color and grain pattern come through the watercolor paper after the resin is applied. I wanted to leave the sides of the panels with its wood finish, so I protected them with painter’s tape.
  3. Once the paint was dry, I glued on it a watercolor paper, a bit larger than the panel size. I used regular white glue. Once it was dry, I cut it to size using a utility cutter. This is very easy using the edges of the panel as a guide.
  4. Then I painted my watercolors. That was the best part :-)
  5. Once everything was ready, I came to David’s studio to resin the work.
  6. You can watch David’s Video on how it’s done. It was basically the same way: Mixing very well the equal parts of resin and hardener, leveling the artwork on something high so it will not touch the table’s surface, pouring the mix on it and spreading it all across, and then trying to get all the bubbles out. That was probably the most tedious part of the entire process…
  7. We then covered the work with some boxes and plastic, so dust and cat-hairs will not fall on it while it dries.
  8. It takes about 4 hours to harden, and another 8-12 hours to fully cure. So I met David the following day and got the dried work.
  9. Last thing I did was to file down some of the drips at the bottom of the work so it will lie flat. Then I installed the wire at the back.
The edge of the resin

The edge of the resin

Filed drips at the back of the panel

Filed drips at the back of the panel

More edges

More edges

Side of the panel

Side of the panel

Surface of the resin

Surface of the resin

The back of the panel

The back of the panel

Few comments for future resined watercolor artwork:

  • I think I will try to first spray the watercolor with clear acrylic to fix the colors and protect the paper. If you notice in the pictures, there is a very small yellowing of the white paper around the edges. David showed me that also white oil paintings can become yellow after covered with resin, so it could be an effect of the resin. But, it won’t harm to try it.
  • I will probably cover the bottom of the panel with some painter’s tape, so if I get drips, they will be on the tape. Once removed, I hope it will look cleaner.
  • I will try to use a paint brush for the sides of the panel to make the coverage more even.
  • David mentioned that heat blower can work very well for removing all the bubbles. At the show I talked with another artist who resins all his mixed media panels, which are quite large, and the result looks just like glass, with no bubbles at all! He told me he is using a simple blow-torch. But he also mentioned that it takes a lot of practice to make it perfect…

Few comments about resin:

  • Resin is a Polymer Coating. Here is a product I was recommended to use: EX-74
  • It is an hazardous material. You should be careful when using it, mainly not to inhale it and not to touch it. Use gloves, good ventilation, and a mask. See more details in this link at the SAFETY DATA SHEET information.
  • If mixed well, the resin pours quite evenly. Even if touched while in its liquid form, it will return again to a smooth surface. That’s why its important to level your artwork.
  • if the artwork is not smooth it might need couple of coats to get everything covered.

So, that’s it. Let me know if you have questions, and I will be more than happy to share.



Related posts:

I don’t use matting or glass at all to frame my watercolors. I paint on 300lb paper, glue it to MDI board, birch panel, or gator board. Then I spray it with Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic spray to fix the watercolor.

When it’s dry, I brush on gloss UV resistant acrylic varnish (I like Golden brand). I let it dry completely. Then I pop it in a frame that is used for oils. The acrylic varnish protects the watercolor and it can even be wiped off with a damp cloth.

Collectors who’ve purchased my varnished watercolors have said they have no fading – some even from more than a decade ago.

I use acrylic matte medium as a glue which I apply to both the back of the paper and the board I’m gluing onto. Then I set the painting on the floor, put a piece of paper over it with a piece of cardboard over that and stack heavy books on it overnight. In the morning, Voila!

Also, I make sure the paper is 1/8 to 1/4 inch larger than the board because when the glue dries the paper shrinks. When everything is dry, if some of the paper edge extends past the board, I cut that off with a matte knife.

I try to work in regular oil frame sizes so that I can save money on frames.

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25 Responses to “Watercolor covered with resin – alternative to traditional framing”

  1. Thank you for sharing this information. I have found some of these techniques to be good from my own experience, although I have not as yet used resin the way it is described here.


    Elizabeth A. Gawronski

  2. I have coated my gouache paintings on textured clayboard for many years. Take a look near the end of at my online article: http://www.peterworsley.com/About%20Me/Gouache.html


    Peter Worsley

  3. Thank you Elizabeth and Peter for your comments.

    Peter – this is a great idea. I will try to use it myself too :-)


    Moshe Mikanovsky

  4. Great article Moshe! I was at an exhibit a couple of months ago in Victoria and saw amazing work with a resin coating. I had never seen this done before. Great tutorial for future use.


    Naomi Broudo

  5. Really nice article Moshe. I have referenced it on my blog http://www.NoNakedWalls.blogspot.com

    I’m interested to read what you have to say about the Riverdale Art Show.



  6. Funny, I have a draft blog post I’m working on based in the FAV Frame Game article! I have been looking into framing my gouache on paper pieces in this way…there are a few discussions on the wetcanvas forums with people using various techniques. I wonder if it is safe to attempt it with a painting I’ve already finished (mounting the finished piece on a panel and then varnishing.



  7. Moshe,thanks for the great totorial. I have just started trying to develope something similar with photos. I have been wrapping them around a frame and spraying with acrylic. For some reason I had not thought about glueing to a board. I am going to try the whole system. Thanks again


    barbara kelley

  8. Thank you everyone for the comments.
    There is so much we can learn from each other, and I am happy to share. Would love to see other people results



    Moshe Mikanovsky

  9. I love this idea. It would work great for my collages. I haven’t used resin yet. I have had some success with Golden self-leveling clear gel. It takes a long time to dry, but has a similar look.


    Martha Marshall

  10. Very inspiring and interesting – I was talking to someone about resin over acrylic and putting in gold leaf and other materials.


    Lisa Baptiste

  11. I just wanted to tell you thank you for sharing this. Instead of glue I used acrylic medium and I sprayed the watercolor with UV resistant acrylic and used an acrylic varnish. Then I used the resin with great success. I have seen an artist in Atlanta that paints acrylics and uses epoxy resin to cover them. http://olivierstudios.com/Stephen%20Olivier.html

    I intend to do this with larger watercolors, but here is the small experiment I did. http://bit.ly/aKX8eV


    Melinda McPherson

  12. Thank you Melinda for the comment. Love the example you made!


    Moshe Mikanovsky

  13. hi Moshe!

    as usual – very enlightening, eye openning, and educational.

    i also checked the photo resourses sites u reccommended: wet canvas, etc. very well worth the time surfing through them.

    this is why i never miss a word u write in yr news letters – there is always something worthwhile in there.



    Dalia Bar-Dror

  14. Hi!

    Great article. I found this because I work a bit with absorbent ground on linen canvases and thought about using the liquitex pouring medium to create a resin like effect. It’s not toxic and it’s only one part. Gives it a glass like look in the end. I think it works better on hard boards rather than canvas however i am going to try using it on linen to see what happens. Also do you spray fix your watercolour before adding the resin?



  15. Thank you.
    I have not tried yet spraying the watercolours before adding the resin, but it is on my list to-do and try. I definilty think it is a good idea to try, as it should protect the watercolours better….



    Moshe Mikanovsky

  16. O0ops, sorry! Tell your wife not to worry, i have great respect for family! She is very lucky and I’m sure you are, also!!! I was so excited when i sent a msg thru your other site to ask you about our shul’s stained glass project that i forgot to put the links!!!( My POF link is so you can get to know what kinda nut i am and in case you know a yenta who likes a challenge!) I spent 2 weeks in Israel when my x was in the multinational peacekeeping forces. I was an Architect in the 70′s and love Trompe-l’œil paintings using grids, as my mother taught me. I hope we will be in touch and have a continuing friendship blossom between our Jewish Communities! Thanks!



  17. Great idea, Moshe. It never occurred to me to resin my watercolours.!


    Wilfred Wong

  18. Moshe — thank you for the information. I have a question (I am a novice) … do I spray the acrylic with the paper flat or “standing”. Thank you!!


    becca givens

  19. Hi Becca,

    I do it flat, as it could spill if you spray too heavily.

    I hope this helps


    Moshe Mikanovsky

  20. Thanks so much for sharing this information. I also have this issue of framing watercolours because mine are very large and getting larger (up to95x110cm.) and transporting large watercolours under glass was a real issue. I had thought of resin but hadn’t dared try but your info was really interesting and helpful and I will certainly try it. Just wanted to mention instead of using paper and glueing it on a support, I have now started experimenting with using Daniel Smith watercolour ground on canvas and so far it’s working well. Do yoou have any experience with it? I am finishing it with Golden archival MSA spray varnish though I imagine the resin is much tougher. The ground is also good if a section needs to be redone for some reason, it can be patched and painted over.



  21. Saw the Acrylic Matt Medium process on the internet and although the resin process seems simple, I would much prefer to have someone (pay) to do the procedure correctly for one or more glossy 18X12 photographs of my grand-child.

    Can you recommend someone or a business that would mount and glue the photo on hardwood and apply the resin.

    Am a little too old to do myself.


    Peter Frank Lee


    Peter Frank Lee

  22. How funny, just yesterday I was Googling art fair displays (looking to upgrade to pro panels or similar) and I found your very helpful posts about your booth, and just now I was Googling working with resin and here you are again, with more helpful information. Thank you for your generosity of knowledge Moshe! Most appreciated.

    Annie Galvin


    Annie Galvin

  23. Hello,

    Very interesting post. I am an artist and am making a mixed media painting and want to use an epoxy glue to adhere some small objects and was told that epoxy and resin are acidic and will damage my watercolor paper. Did you do any research into the acidity of epoxy and resin and it long term effects to paper. I have tried to find this on google and have not come up with many answers.

    Thanks and I very much enjoyed your art!




  24. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this for all other artists. This was exactly what I was looking for and you answered all my questions.. Thanks again!! :)


    Cyndi Cardenas-Lopez

  25. Hi Moshe! Remember me? we met at Artists Network of Riverdale a couple of years back. So gladto have found your post as i have decided to start mounting my watercolours on board panels instead of framing with glass and was “googling” ideas. Don’t think I will try resin anytime soon, but will try a self levelling medium at some point.
    Thanks for sharing and maybe see you at next year’s RAW!


    Betsy Bell McKimm

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