12 Jun 2010
Watercolor covered with resin – alternative to traditional framing
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Then I painted my watercolors. That was the best part
- Once everything was ready, I came to David’s studio to resin the work.
- 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…
- We then covered the work with some boxes and plastic, so dust and cat-hairs will not fall on it while it dries.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Watercolor covered with encaustic – Alternative to traditional framing
- Check out the post “The Frame Game” on FineArtViews. It has many good ideas, and also the comments are great. Especially check Lori Woodward’s comments. She suggested the following alternative method for framing watercolors:
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.