View Full Version : Alternatives to showcasing/hanging watercolor work other than framing?

06-15-2013, 02:23 AM
I've been wondering, if one should just get frames and matboard and making paintings according to that, and end up making work that can be used interchangeably?

06-15-2013, 08:28 AM
There's nothing wrong with standardizing your painting sizes... Half sheets and quarter sheets are most common, I suppose... but you could choose smaller or larger sizes to fit your needs.

virgil carter
06-15-2013, 09:01 AM
If your question is about matting and framing watercolor paintings, there seems to be two different approaches:

--Using "standard" (non-custom) sized mats and frames available in the market place, and painting to fit these mats and frames;
--Painting on "modular" sizes of water color paper (full sheet, half sheet, quarter sheet, etc.) and using custom sized mats and frames.

It's a personal choice, although "standard" sized mats and frames tend to be more economical. One may be more limited in frame style, however, using "standard" frames.

Many painters reuse their mats and frames for new work and for work in different shows. With care, mats and frames will last a long time before needing replacement.

sling paint,

06-15-2013, 03:40 PM
I see. I guess the standard is the ideal type for me. But I was also wondering if you can display them without a frame. I mean, obviously you can by taping them to a wall and I saw at a gallery that one person put them on a foam board of sorts with double sided tape, with the foam board pinned to the wall.

Is that typical for frameless work?

06-15-2013, 04:22 PM
I paint quarter sheet and frame 20x16 multiple store bought frames for less than 10.

An alternative is to mat your paintings and seal in a clear plastic bag.


virgil carter
06-15-2013, 04:26 PM
Watercolors are traditionally displayed matted, glazed and framed as a way to protect the fragile watercolor. The mats keep the glazing away from the paper surface and provide a bit of protection from sun and fading. The best protection for fading, of course, is to keep watercolor out of direct and reflected sunlight.

Frameless display of watercolor is not traditionally done since watercolor on paper is more fragile than oil or acrylic on canvas. The same applies to pastel paintings.

That said, Char and others here on WC have pioneered innovative wrapping watercolor over canvas stretchers and spraying with clear, protective materials. I'm not sure how much protection that truly provides from sun and direct light, but it does seem to allow displaying watercolors in a non-traditional, frameless manner. I'm not sure about the durability of this method of display, but it is very attractive.

Unframed watercolors are also often displayed in "bins" using mats and foam core backing, enclosed in shrink wrap plastic or plastic sleeves/envelopes. This method, however, is only for temporary display of bulk watercolors at shows and galleries. It is not a method for permanent wall display, although individual paintings show well in this form.

Hope this helps.

Sling paint,

06-15-2013, 10:18 PM
Yes, I've been having a lot of fun painting on paper stretched over pretreated canvas. I spray the finished work with Spectrafix, a non toxic workable fixative designed for pastels and watercolour. Then, I carefully varnish the work with Golden's UVLS satin varnish.

It's my hope that these pieces will last a nice, long time. I have no way of knowing how time will treat them. Since I sell my work, I don't charge a lot for these paintings because of the unknown.

I wouldn't place any painting in direct light. The sun will bleach a floor, carpet or sofa... so, it's better to be safe than sorry.

They do look different, also... rather like acrylic paintings... but, acrylics artists can't achieve the same effects and techniques that watercolourists can, so we have that advantage.

06-17-2013, 12:04 PM
Jumping in here (hope this isn't considered hijacking the thread), but Char, are any of your pieces showcased here that you handled with stretching over canvas? I'd love to see what this looks like.

06-17-2013, 02:03 PM

I used to mount some of my watercolours on a painted stretched canvas and then varnish, see below



06-17-2013, 04:51 PM
I have tried a few stretched and wrapped watercolours. They are fun to do and seem fairly durable. The paper dries drumhead tight and the stretcher frame gives it rigid support. They would still be vulnerable to objects being poked through them.

06-17-2013, 05:09 PM
I have tried a few stretched and wrapped watercolours. They are fun to do and seem fairly durable. The paper dries drumhead tight and the stretcher frame gives it rigid support. They would still be vulnerable to objects being poked through them.

not if you gallery wrap using my sandwich method with foamcore :) The paper is very well supported using this method. I dont do it often as i like the behind glass look and do sell this way but its very popular for commissions

06-17-2013, 05:48 PM
Hi Terry... I have posted a few threads featuring my wrapped paintings. Click Here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1300751) and then scroll down to see how I handled the sides of Time Square'd...

In my most current thread of Bee-lieve (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1320558), I snapped a photo of the painting dropped into a floater frame.

There are three small paintings in This Thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1209822) for you to have a look at.

Stretching my paper OVER a pretreated canvas offers the security of additional support similar to Ona's work. Initially, I worried about damaging the painting also, but the stretched paper is incredibly strong. In fact, when she first began experimenting with her process, it was one of my first questions... I was especially worried about the corners.

As much as I prefer my traditional watercolour behind glass, it's the gallery wraps that sell like hotcakes here in my area.

06-17-2013, 05:50 PM
Henry, I LOVE that look!

06-18-2013, 07:25 AM
Ona, I forgot about your method. Even unsupported the paper is surprisingling strong. Stretched canvas is also vulnerable to poke through a from sharp objects. I haven't done a test to see which is stronger, but the new paper certainly feels stronger than some of the old paintings I have. So I am not worried about it.