View Full Version : Behind Glass?

10-06-2000, 03:47 PM
I noticed in one of the posts on the clayboard thread that the artist was looking forward to a ground that didn't require mounting behind glass. What is the prohibition against not mounting w/c behind glass or plexi? Seems to me that a good clear varnish would work just fine. I believe there are even some water based varnishes out there. I realise that this is going against tradition, but am curious as to why the taboo. Any comments? Dennis

10-06-2000, 04:57 PM
Hmm. Varnish paper? Would that work?

Mary Kay
10-07-2000, 12:12 AM
A watercolor painting is behind glass to protect it from dust and moisture. the mat's function is to separate the painting from the glass, so that if there is any condensation on the interior of the glass it will not touch the painting. it is much easier to replace the mat.

rag watercolor paper needs to breathe...it expands and contracts as the humidity in the air increases and decreases. I think that would be a reason why it can't be varnished. it may also add a yellow tint. But then...when you use gesso on watercolor paper you have to spray it with a clear acrylic, but you still frame it under glass.

anyone know a conservator who specializes in paper conservation?

Mary Kay


10-07-2000, 07:39 AM
Hi Dennis.... The real concern of course is acid and using totally acid free materials for framing. It was explained to me by a pro framer, that acid will migrate over time and spoil watercolors. Have you ever seen a matted watercolor where the beveled edge has turned to dirty yellow? That's acid which gets into the painting.
I am the one I guess you refer to that was intriqued about getting away from the use of glass - (breakage, weight, expense etc). I have the textured board now and am hoping to try it out soon - with the fixative spray.
MaryKay points out the other reason for using glass - and I had an experience with that condensation where the moisture actually got so heavy it was dripping behind that glass.
It was a sunny day, the painting had been facing the sun in a show - what a mess!
I don't know anyone experienced with paper conservation but bet we have someone in wet canvas who is..! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

10-07-2000, 09:03 PM
Since watercolors are soluble after they dry...varnish would cause the paint to become soluble and mix with the paint. I've heard of the spray varnish but haven't tried it...Carol, does it cause the painting to change any when it gets wet? or does the spray dry quickly enough to avoid this problem?

10-07-2000, 09:48 PM
Carly... I have not tried this fixative spray yet..and it is to be used on the textured clayboard. As for spray varnish, never have used that either - on watercolor that is. I can see where it could cause some serious problems though! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

10-09-2000, 12:43 AM
Carol and Carly: Karen Vernon brushes acrylic varnish (not a spray) on her watercolors on Claybord. I guess they work okay for her.

10-09-2000, 08:03 AM
Victoria... Thanks for the tip. I did buy the fixative spray along with a couple of small boards - wonder what the difference is between the acrylic varnish and this spray?
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

10-09-2000, 04:05 PM
I'd do a test of that spray on some watercolor that isn't important. I'd be afraid of overspraying and making the painting run. I don't see the need for it. You can always use acrylic instead of glass. It has UV protectors and can be purchased from Serendipity Designs in Richmond VA. The only drawback we've found with acrylic is that it does scratch.
Personally, I prefer to mat watercolors and put them under glass. Yes, condensation will form in the sun. Not a good idea to put watercolors out in the sun at shows because of that and fading also.
Good watercolor paper is acid free. For a good acid free mat, use Alphamat with the artwork mounted on foamcore. The surface of foamcore is acid free.
If you prefer not to use a mat, there are spacers you can purchase to keep the watercolor away from the glass.
Hope this helps some. :-)

10-10-2000, 12:39 AM
Hi all...Just checked out that can of fixative spray. It doesn't list what mediums to use it with, but was suggested in an ad I saw about using watercolors on this board (!?)
You are so right Chickie - about trying it out on a scrap first, but have no scraps of the clayboard, and that could/would make a difference I am sure.
: ) Carol
PS: My daughter has a framing shop - so I am lucky enough in that respect eh?

10-10-2000, 12:49 AM
Carol: I don't know what the purpose of the fixative is, unless you're doing pastels or charcoal drawings. I figure the acrylic varnish protects the painting from moisture, pollution, etc. Does it say anything on the can of fixative about why you might need it?

10-16-2000, 04:52 PM
I have used fixative spray frequently over watercolors on gesso or on Yupo paper. The oldest use, though, is only a year old, so I would not say that they have yet stood the "acid" test of time. I will say that there was no damage to the paper or paint, even when I got a bit careless and the spray puddled a bit before drying.

10-16-2000, 05:33 PM
I've used fixative spray & spray varnish on watercolors, too, particularly those in mixed media work where the vintage papers I used might have been unstable and needing sealing or there is pastel work involved. I've never noticed it altering the watercolor colors but I agree that it hasn't stood the test of long time. I also don't use an absorbent paper like Arches so can't vouch for how it would behave in those circumstances.

I also know people from Florida who mount and varnish watercolor/collage combinations and watercolors alone to avoid problems they encountered with humidity behind glass. I've no direct experience of this myself but have seen the paintings which have, to my eye, a rather hard look, but I think those I saw had a gloss varnish which could account for that.

10-16-2000, 08:27 PM
Lots of good information here. I assume that the fixative spray for textured clayboard with watercolor...keeps the acrylic varnish from ruining the painting. It is a recommended fixative for just this use. I have to say I have really enjoyed this textured clayboard folks... lots of fun.
HA..wonder if Ampersand needs a sales rep.?
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol