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Old 07-18-2004, 05:47 PM
Alisa Alisa is offline
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Sealed Watercolors — Professional's Opinion

Hello everyone, I've been wondering about the acceptance of watercolors sealed with acrylic, and I'm sure some of you have too....so I'd thought I'd share this from Watercolor Magic Magazine website.



"When is a Watercolor no Longer a Watercolor?

By Catherine Anderson

Q. I read an article in one of my art magazines about painting over watercolors with a polyacrylic glaze, and therefore avoiding the need to frame the piece behind glass. I've done this with great success (no running of the colors, believe it or not!)

My question is this: Does sealing your watercolor in this manner ruin the value of the painting as a piece of art? Would a watercolor "purist" reject it because it's not in its natural state? Would a watercolor piece be accepted in a gallery or museum if it were sealed with a coat of polyacrylic glaze instead of glass?

A. First, you must determine if you want the polyacrylic glaze to be part of your art or to serve merely as a substitute for glass. If your motivation is to save money on glass, you should consider what you're trying to achieve. My take is that both watercolors and soft pastels are meant to be presented under glass in a frame, relieved from the glass by either a mat or float in order to protect their fragile surface from hands, dust, and the like. It's just the nature of both media.

So yes, you have changed the nature of watercolor if you coat it with polyacrylic glaze. If your goal is to incorporate the glaze into the painting process—to make it part of your art, that's fine, and more power to you in perfecting your craft. But you should realize that what you've done will most likely be considered "mixed media" artwork, not watercolor. That helps answer your question about the watercolor purists.

As for the value of a piece coated with polyacrylic glaze, I'm sure many galleries will love to look at this kind of "sealed" approach. But, again, they'll probably look at the glaze as part of the artwork. A traditional gallery that leans towards representing watercolorists within the traditional style might frown on this approach.

Why don't you test the waters yourself? I would advise anyone trying a new approach or technique to do this. Talk to some galleries. Bring your work into galleries where you think your work will fit in. Ask questions. How do you know if they'll accept it, unless you try?

Check out some of the watercolor societies that are known as watercolor purists. Watercolor West would be a good one to contact (Watercolor West, P.O. Box 213, Redlands CA 92373; E-mail: [email protected]). This group accepts only transparent watercolors in their annual shows. You could write and ask them what they think about your process.

It sounds as if you have a very interesting and exciting technique that you love doing. My suggestion is to network and take some risks with your work. The worst thing that could happen would be that galleries or museums would say they aren't interested. Ask them why if they aren't, and then move on to the next gallery and museum. Don't stop pursuing what you believe in! "


Alisa
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Last edited by painterbear : 04-13-2008 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 07-20-2004, 10:47 AM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Alisa.....
I have done several pieces with varnish.
The first one I framed in a typical frame for oils c/w linen liner. 14" x 20"
The second one I matted and framed in a typical double mat white on white. 10' x 30"
No glass in either one.

I have come to several conclusions.
The linen lined one is really impressive and the varnish lines can be seen, but the colours are much more saturated.
The second one is also impressive. "She who must be obeyed" was really impressed......and since it was "golf art" I was surprised.
I don't forsee a problem with dust or dirt anymore than with an oil painting.
Since I do my own framing, I do see one small problem with the linen liner.
There is no room for error...in other words, if there are horizontal or vertical lines in the paintings, they must be straight.

I did'nt go this route to save glass, although I use plexiglass on large full sheet paintings, which would be significant.
I really went this route after reading some comments by Rich, with the emphasis on the looks of the painting in an oil type frame....
I definetly agree with his theory about higher prices and the lack of reflections was also a secondary advantage.
I have yet to try this out on "the public'" However I am sure that most people will be impressed.
As a member of a watercolour society, I have yet to call them, but will do so today.
However should they not accept it, then I will just comply with the rules. We have a waterbased medium show coming up, and should the paintings be accepted for the show, I'll get a reaction I'm sure.
The Ottawa Watercolour Society does not accept varnished paintings....which is just fine with me....so I'll do them under glass in a white linen lined frame....
It's only once a year anyway.

Thanks very much for the article....
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Last edited by seedy : 07-20-2004 at 11:13 AM. Reason: Add text
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Old 07-21-2004, 11:14 AM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

"Since I do my own framing, I do see one small problem with the linen liner.
There is no room for error...in other words, if there are horizontal or vertical lines in the paintings, they must be straight."

I had not even considered that, there is that margin for adjustment when the painting is matted. I love the look of the liner, it just has a certain charm.

" I did'nt go this route to save glass, although I use plexiglass on large full sheet paintings, which would be significant.
I really went this route after reading some comments by Rich, with the emphasis on the looks of the painting in an oil type frame....
I definetly agree with his theory about higher prices and the lack of reflections was also a secondary advantage.
I have yet to try this out on "the public'" However I am sure that most people will be impressed."


I went this route for every reason possible! First off, I don't always want a matt, I feel it can be a distraction wether or not it's done well....sometimes I just dont want anything else but bare bones for framing. Like an oil on canvas w/o a frame. And I like the intimacy of not having a glass barrier.

I sell on ebay and so far the customers are pleased. I do have one that just purchased a watercolor offline, and I asked her if she would like it varnished and she said absoulutely not. So far not a lot of feedback, but I'm sure it will come.

I experimented varnishing two watercolors- one with fixative, one w/o. The one that I did'nt fix reacted to the varnish in a good way, the colors "washed" around a bit and added to the overall feel of the painting. I suppose it might be classified as mixed media because of the change in the original watercolor. The other watercolor was "fixed" and I see it as pure watercolor with a protective seal.

I do like having an option and something to experiment with most of all LOL!

Alisa
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Old 11-14-2006, 03:44 AM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

I have used it and love it, not to save glass but it brightens up colours.
as shown in gallery on my painting "Green Forest"
I have also seen it on another watercolour, entered in the same competition I have entered "Jakarandas" at Alette Wessels gallery. so I guess some galleries
accept it as watercolour.

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Old 11-14-2006, 08:22 AM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Hi....
There has been a lot of water flow off the brushes since this was first talked about here....old threads never die...;-)
I have had as much success with varnished watercolours as I have with the traditional, with sales running about 50/50.
I will also admit than I'm somewhat hesitant to "do" only varnished watercolours and the arguements about it no longer being a watercolour is a little boring now.
It has been an uphill battle to get our local wc society to accept the varnished watercolour without glass in what they call the "mixed media" show where everything is accepted as long as it is waterbased and on paper.
On the other hand, another group I show with on a monthly basis have said " a watercolour is a watercolour " no matter how it is glazed.
An interesting take on the expression "a watercolour that has been varnished is now an acrylic" was their question " and an oil that has been varnished is what?"
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Old 11-14-2006, 12:50 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Brian , What I would worry about is it 's wearing with age . If an oil is varnished , you have layers underneath that you can clean up , but with watercolor there is nothing but paper underneath.You also have a darkening with age , which you don't have with old watercolors. Don't you also have the possibility of Brittle paper in time ?
I see all kinds of Archival problems for it in the future ,not now. Tell me I'm wrong.
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Old 11-14-2006, 01:10 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

June.....
Maybe Arleta Pech is not the person to quote....since she seems to have given up watercolours in favour of oils.....however I would think that she must have done plenty of research prior to varnishing....
From her site.....

" Long Term? According to the chemist at Golden Artist Colors, the acrylic sealer protects the watercolor painting from the varnish and will let Museum curators remove the top layers of UV varnish after we're all dead and gone. But the acrylic sealer will never be able to be removed since it is bonded to the paper surface, so if you want to be accurate you will have a mixed media original according to the experts.
Cleaning of originals. Dust with a lint free cloth/wipe with damp clean cloth.
Are there unseen problems? So far NONE! My originals shipped state
to state with no problems.
But the watercolor market has changed and anything on paper is having a very hard time selling in the galleries, which is why I have moved into oils."


I may be old and brittle, but I'm not varnished...Pickled, maybe, but not varnished....;-)
www.arletapech.com
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Last edited by seedy : 11-14-2006 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 11-14-2006, 09:19 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Okay Brian , The Acrylic Sealer is the answer .
I was thinking also about seepage into the paper too but din't include that in my question. '
Now what I am getting from it is the Mummification of A Watercolor !
It ain't going anywhere soon , as they say . It is there forever !
How long does the process take altogether , an approximation?
Are there 2 steps ? or More ? Is it on both side of the paper , or one ?
What mistakes can you make doing it that you might not forsee, at the beginning of the Process. ?
Thanks for the discourse .
June
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Old 11-15-2006, 11:14 AM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Brian,

What would you classify as the acrylic sealer? An acrylic fixative? Or as Golden suggests -- the protective layer which is a mixture of water and their suggestions of clear soft gel, GAC 100, and one other they mentioned by I can't remember?

If I don't 'fix' my paintings before I put Golden's UVLS Polymer varnish on them, the brush moves the paint.

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Old 11-15-2006, 12:02 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

I have been having good results with varnishing my watercolors. Actually, my husband does the varnishing process. First a couple light coats of Golden's Transparent Extender are sprayed on, then 4-5 coats Golden's UV protected acrylic varnish. I prefer more a satin/matte finish with the varnish. The drying time between coats (depending on how heavily it is sprayed) is 30 minutes for light coats. One thing I especially love about this type finishing of watercolors is that after it's varnished, the beautiful texture of the paper can be seen so well.

As for protection on the back side of the paper, we dry-mount the watercolor paper to an MDF board that has three coats acrylic gesso on it. This protects it not only from dust, but from insects, etc. The watercolor can be dry-mounted before or after it is painted, but dry-mounting first gives you a lovely surface to paint on that does not buckle at all! Given the fact that a lot of folks don't have dry-mounting equipment, the paper can also be successfully attached to the gessoed board with acrylic mediums. There are a couple artists who are doing this now...Dustan Knight and Birgit O'Connor. Both of them have videos available on their process.

I have one gallery in town that wants only the varnished watercolors, so I'm thinking there is a good market for this. I'm really enjoying both processes now...the traditional and the varnishing.

Hope this helps some.

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Old 11-15-2006, 12:15 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Deb and June

First off....I should let you know that I only use 300# paper so I can see 140# paper being just a little less absorbent.
Deb..try Krylon....I'm not too sure about the use of water in the suggested Golden gel....your turn to experiment.
The fixatif I use is made by Krylon and is a spray....of which there are two kinds....Workable and not....which means you can retouch on top.....
By the time I'm ready to spray, I've fussed and fiddled all I can so it doesnt matter....the prices are the same...
I usually give the painting 3 light coats....taking only minutes to apply and maybe 10 mins between coats....it smells to high heaven....like spray paint and the dog smiles for hours......;-)
The fixative stops the paints from bleeding from the varnish......but if you get a chance to try it, find a painting that has a lot of burnt sienna or any of the earth tones.....and watch what happens......they look as vibrant as when they were applied.
June.....
In order to mount the painting in a linen liner, I first glue the watercolour to the acid free foamcore, same as used in dry mounting, with Elmers glue (acid free) then I spray with fixative....and varnish with Liqiutex Gloss Medium and Varnish. (permanent,non-yellowing, flexible and water resistant when dry)
I usually water down the varnish a little and apply with one of those "sky" brushes....
The trick is not to apply too much and getting an angle to look at the painting so as to pick up the reflections to see where its being applied. Around the edges seem to be the missed spots and perhaps where too much is applied. Three coats does it.
Time wise, with gin breaks later in the afternoon, 8 hours seems about right from start to finish, although it can certainly be done in a morning. ;-)
Mistakes?....if its going into a linen liner, there is only a 1/4" play in the ledge that holds the painting, so if horizontals or verticals are a visual must, better make sure.
One other advantage I've noticed....the painting shows better in ambient lighting at night....
Here's a picture of a varnished watercolour shot straight on with a flash...

As you can see by Judiths' reply, there is more than one way to "skin a cat" Opps....sorry Max.

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Old 11-15-2006, 04:25 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Judith, are you airbrushing this stuff on?

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Old 11-16-2006, 02:33 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Quote:
Judith, are you airbrushing this stuff on?

My husband bought a small paint sprayer that screws onto the top of a Mason jar which contains the liquid to be sprayed. The hose attaches to a small air compressor which provides the spray pressure. He wears a small face mask when he sprays which filters out any loose spray from the air. Here's a picture of the small spraying apparatus...http://www.judithfields.com/Varnished_Watercolors.htm. I can get the brand name if you need...he ordered it on line around $25.00. I have actually applied the varnish on occasion with a roller, although he usually sprays that too. Once the sealer is on, it's okay to use a roller to apply light coats.

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Old 11-16-2006, 04:52 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Brian

I love your painting and the way you framed it. Did you put any kind of sealer on the mat portion? It's really beautiful!

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Old 11-16-2006, 06:41 PM
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Re: sealed watercolor- professional's opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by artinwc
My husband bought a small paint sprayer that screws onto the top of a Mason jar which contains the liquid to be sprayed. The hose attaches to a small air compressor which provides the spray pressure. He wears a small face mask when he sprays which filters out any loose spray from the air. Here's a picture of the small spraying apparatus...http://www.judithfields.com/Varnished_Watercolors.htm. I can get the brand name if you need...he ordered it on line around $25.00. I have actually applied the varnish on occasion with a roller, although he usually sprays that too. Once the sealer is on, it's okay to use a roller to apply light coats.

Judith

THANK YOU Judith for this information !!
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