Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Framing Watercolor: Expert Tips and Tricks
Framing Watercolor: Expert Tips and TricksSome artists are nervous about framing their watercolors. As the paint dries, it can leave ripples in the paper, making it difficult to work with.
So, we talked with three professional artists for their tips on framing watercolor paintings.
How do you mount a watercolor when matting?It all depends on the paper, says Tom Sorrell, watercolorist and president of the Toledo Artists’ Club. He prefers 140-pound paper, and stretches it before he paints to prevent ripples. He then uses high-quality framers tape or linen hinging tape to attach the painting to the mat.
Sometimes, Tom chooses Yupo, a water-resistant synthetic paper favored by watercolorists because of the textures it allows after the paint dries. When mounting Yupo, he sticks with Lineco mounting strips.
“Yupo tends to expand and contract more than other papers with changes in the temperature, so it's important to leave 1/16 to 1/8" between the edge of the Yupo painting and the adhesive portion of the mounting strip,” Tom said. “With Yupo, the painting is mounted to the backing board instead of the mat.”
When mounting watercolor art, Toledo-based Aaron Bivins often uses double-sided acid-free cloth tape for a more secure hold. His technique:
1. Place a two-inch piece of tape on the back of the painting. Half the length of the tape should be on the paper and half should rise above the top of it.
2. Flip the paper over and position it on the foam core. Press the remaining 1" of tape
to secure on the board.
3. Secure another two-inch piece of cloth tape over the other piece of tape to form a
T shape. Press to secure.
How do you flatten a watercolor painting that has rippled before framing it?
If your painting does ripple, there are several ways to fix it. Aaron lays his painting face down on a piece of cardboard, spritzes it with water, and irons the back until it dries.
Tom follows a similar system, but substitutes a stack of heavy books for the iron.
Laurin McCracken, president of the Watercolor USA Honor Society, also opts for books, but prefers not to wet his paintings.
First, he stacks at least 30 pieces of watercolor paper on top of the art. He then places a piece of Masonite or Plexiglas on top, followed by the books. This helps evenly distribute the weight over the painting.
“If you’re using anything other than paper for weight, be sure to put a piece of paper over the painting to protect it,” Laurin said. “Also, the surface under the painting must be smooth and clean.”
If the rippling on the painting is severe, then Laurin will mist the back of the painting with water before placing it under weights. He cautions to use only a light mist so the painting doesn’t get too soggy.
How do you float a watercolor with a deckled edge?
Laurin uses Lineco self-adhesive linen hinging tape. Here’s his technique:
1. First, mount the painting to 1/8” or 1/4” foamcore or mounting board. Leave a 1/2” border. That will give the illusion of the painting “floating” above the mat.
2. To attach the painting to the foamcore, first attach the linen hinge to the back of the painting and run the tape through a slice in the foamcore. Use a second piece of linen tape to affix the first piece of tape to the back of the board. Attach the painting to at least two places at the top of the board.
3. Add additional loops of linen tape in the same manner to prevent slipping, especially during shipping.
For these three artists, the benefits of framing their own work far outweigh the risk of a tear or a ripple.
Some like the flexibility to reuse frames. They say they’re more inclined to take a piece apart if they’ve framed it themselves and know exactly how it’s been mounted. Others said they like the control of framing their own art, and that they can ensure that dust and other contaminants don’t wind up behind the glass.
But the biggest reason so many watercolorists frame their own work is financial.
“The reason I frame my own paintings is the cost related to framing,” Laurin said. “It’s just basic element of managing the funds I have to support my art business.”
Have more framing questions? Contact us.