Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Experimental painting almost completed...next - the varnishing!

Untitled for now

Here is the almost completed experimental watercolor painting on a 16" X 16" X .75" wood panel. I glued the paper to the panel before painting instead of gluing the finished painting to a prepared wood panel as I have done in the past.

Observations so far:
  • the paper remained glued...it separated from the board at a few spots near the edges when I used a lot of water. However, everything seems fine now. I will nevertheless put a fine line of acrylic medium all around as a precaution.
  • the Fabriano 140 lb cp paper behaves differently when  used this way: it dries very quickly - blendings and soft edges are thus more difficult. The paper did not seem receptive to any scrubbing or lifting - I usually use  Q-tips for lifting as I paint and blend  - this did not work ( this damaged the paper somewhat and since it dried so quickly, the technique did not really work)
  • I really liked the firm, flat surface. 
Next steps:
  • After putting in the finishing touches, I will spray the painting with fixative ( I've used Krylon fixative for pastel in the past and it worked.) Will it behave differently on this surface? The fixative is to ensure that the watercolor does not run when the varnished is applied.  I will let that set overnight.
  • I will spray Golden acrylic varnish on it tomorrow.  I don't want a thick plastic layer on top of my painting...I will try to apply only a few layers of varnish instead of the 10 or so that I have used on some of my strawberries. I find this part scary...I could ruin the painting if I am not careful:-(
  • I found a black frame that will fit this panel ( imitation wood only, but it will do for now). The frame will hide a bit of the right-hand flower ( my error...I should have left more space), but it will ensure that the edges of the paper are better protected. No glass will be required ( that's what I'm after!!!)
 Have you tried something similar? Any suggestions? Insights?
Any suggestions for a title for this painting?


  1. Thank you, Vicki! On my monitor, the color of the flower is much darker ( almost black) than in real life.

  2. Hi Christiane,
    I was following your progress. This painting turned out beautifully. And about your previous question on whether you have succeeded in preserving the "watercoloriness", you have. :D
    It has retained that transparent quality to it and the brightness of color you can sometimes only get with watercolors. Love it. I like also how you are able to find a way to present watercolor without glass. A desire I think in almost all of us since one of the disadvantages to our favored medium, we are told, is the added cost of glass when framing it.

    I hope you also made swatches for lightfastness study and also for determining if the varnish would yellow over time, etc. It is the nerd in me wanting to find out. :D

    I am also just beginning to experiment with acrylics at the moment. But I read once how some varnishes used with acrylic paintings may be removed once they yellow and revarnished without disturbing the acrylic paint. Do you think this is possible also with this technique?

    It looks great on my monitor. Not dark at all, just perfect.

  3. Nicely done Christiane. I like the composition here and the colors. I hope everything comes out all right.

  4. The painting is beautiful. I've heard of people using the varnish and will wait to see how it turns out. I'm sure that yellowing would not be a problem since varnishes on the market today are formulated differently than in the past. I agree with spraying it first and then adding more with a brush is a good idea so the paint won't smear. Look forward to seeing how you like the process and painting once complete.

  5. Karen:
    I am so pleased that you find this painting has retained its "watercolor" look throughout this process.
    I believe that you can put an isolation coat between the fixative and the varnish so that you could go back into the painting...However, I would think that it would damage the paper even if it did not disturb the paint. I would not want to try it.
    As Deb mentions in her post below yours, the varnish helps retain the color and has UV protection and is not supposed to yellow at all. I am keeping one small painting as test for down the road. I will also prepare some swatches, as you recommend, to compare the varnished vs non-varnished portion of a painting.

    I am so glad that you like it. I have just put on the last coat of varnish and everything seems perfect! Big sigh of relief:-)

    I have varnished smaller paintings before, but this is the first time that I've glued it on a panel before painting. I am using a spray for all the layers - on my last varnished painting, I tried
    putting the varnish down with a roller brush...it created too many bubbles and the layer was much thicker that with a spray. I am using several layers of spray...not too many, this time, since I don't want a plastic feel to the painting.

    Thank you all for your comments and your support...all much appreciated!

  6. Christiane...I love this. Your colors are exquisite and are reading wonderfully as these green orchids are popular here and I've seen many. You've set a marvelous stage and retained the transluscent quality of the flower petals...and the greenish color is hard to work with. Let us know how the varnishing goes.

  7. Mollie, you are always so sweet. I am so glad that you like this painting...I felt like throwing it away quite a few times before I finished it:-)
    I have just sprayed my 6th layer of varnish on the painting and think that will be enough. I will take a picture of it so that we can try to see any difference between the "before" and the "after". Thank you again for your support!