Remodeling To Improve My Watercolor

Recently my husband and I took on the monstrous task of remodeling our kitchen and bathroom. The project involves stripping forty plus year old wallpaper and painting instead. Sparing the gory details of the enormous work involved, suffice to say after two days I had a ready canvas-my wall.

For those of you not familiar with the technique, first you begin by applying a base coat.  After sufficient dry time comes the glaze over with a complementary color.  The greater the contrast between the two, the more dramatic the effect.  Using a rag, you soak it in the glaze color.  Squeeze out the rag and form it into a cylinder.  After that, roll away.  Here is an example of the effect.

rag technique

Products from Lowes

Have to put in a plug for Lowes.  They provided the supplies and expertise.  End of commercial.

The technique was stunning.  It almost looked natural like leaves.  With both colors shining through and the mix of the two, I thought the effect was marvelous.

So how does that help my watercolor?  Control.  Control of the degree of saturation of the rag produced different effects.  The best results came from a rag not dripping wet, but a little dryer.  Though messy, the application does have a place in your watercolor tool kit.  Nice for a background, for texture.  To use this successfully in watercolor, the paint has to be of a richer mix.  Make sure and wring the cloth well before beginning.  To minimize drips, a flat surface works best.  For my next project, rag rolling is going to be a part of my work–once the remodeling is done and over.

My OSCommerce Store–Part 2

I’m now in the somewhat tedious process of setting up my OSCommerce store and adding my products.  Unlike what I’ve done in the past, I want to give customers options regarding mat size and color.  I’m hoping this may be an added incentive to buy.

The OSCommerce set up may seem confusing at first, but it’s something you get used to.  I’m glad I have the template.  Even with just a few products added, I feel like it’s a real store.  Though the template was spendy ($170), overall I feel it was a good investment.  Cheaper than the eBay fees I threw out the window each month.  But that’s a different story.

Anyway, options.  One thing becomes quite obvious when you first start setting up your store–you need a plan.  I have products.  I’ve pretty much put myself in a few niches.  My work has an overall theme.  Using this information, I set up categories and subcategories to put my paintings.  I had originally set up categories for paintings, prints, and cards, but have since decided against it.  I have a Zazzle store for cards of which the quality I particularly like.  Prints, I’m going to have to think about.  The fact is that I don’t want to stock that inventory.  I’m going to have Zazzle as my source for other products and stick with paintings. 

So from just a painting category, I’ve moved to subject:  landscape, still life, etc.  My thought here is that I want to cut to the chase.  The least amount of clicks until a user is where they might like to be.  So, onward and upward.  More products to add.

Watercolor Tip–Sealing and Varnishing Your Work

You have two choices when you work on an alternate support such as clayboard or watercolor canvas: you can frame behind glass as with a traditional watercolor, taking the same precautions that the painting itself does not come into direct contact with the glass and that there is a space between the artwork and the glass or you can seal your work and frame as an oil or acrylic painting.  Because paint lifts so easily off of these surfaces, for my part, I feel safest sealing and varnishing.

The later definitely has some advantage.  If you paint on large surfaces, a matted painting framed behind glass can be an expensive purchase and a heavy one for hanging.  Some artists have remarked that paintings on the larger sized watercolor canvas sealed and varnished sell better because of they are easier to frame and the frames, lighter without the glass.  There is a school of thought that also recognizes the fact that oils sell at higher prices than watercolors.  Perhaps it’s the long tradition of oil painting that adds a certain mystique to the works.  Or perhaps it is the advantage of being able to frame without glass.  Victorian watercolorists took great pains using bodycolor and gum arabic to “heighten” a painting to make it look like an oil in order to get higher prices for their work.  For me, I looked at framing without glass as a means to transport works easier for shows, to say nothing of it being safer.

I experimented with several different approaches to come up with a sealing method that I use now.  Now I must say that I like a glossy finish, so the products I mention are all about accomplishing this goal.  For clayboard and canvas paintings, I first begin with the clayboard fixative.  I use about three coats, allowing ample time to dry between coats.  After this, I use the Krylon Triple-Thick Clear Glaze.  The “triple-thick” refers to the fact that one coat of this product equals three coats of other clear acrylic fixatives.  I will apply at least two coats until I achieve the finish I’m after.  I follow this with a UV resistant varnish, also by Krylon.  I typically will spray six thin coats to complete the process.  There are a couple of things to bear in mind when doing this: first of all, make sure you have a big space that is covered to do the actual spraying.  Make sure nothing is near by that may get a bit of the spray.  You will want to take off your glasses, if you wear them.  Found that out the hard way.  Make sure the room is well-ventilated.  There will be lots of spraying going on, so be sure and take that precaution. 

Another approach is recommended by Golden for varnishing acrylics.  This method requires an isolation layer so that this layer would protect the acrylic should the varnish need to be removed.  The isolation layer is the Golden soft gel gloss, mixed two parts gel to one part water and brushed on.  I applied this layer onto watercolor canvas.  Despite being the glossy finish, it wasn’t as glossy as I liked, but maybe if you’re looking for more of a matte finish, you may appreciate the look.  I didn’t like applying this with a brush either.  The mix is quite watery and brushes easily, but I preferred spraying.  This layer is followed up by the MSA Archival Varnish.  For prints, this is up to eight thin layers.  I do at least six layers for paintings and prints.  It’s an easy precaution to take to protect your work.  Since I’ve used the MSA Archival Varnish for prints, I have now taken to use it instead of the Krylon varnish.

I have tried both of these approaches with watercolor works on paper.  I mounted the work on matboard before beginning.  I can’t say I was happy at all with the results and will just still to using this for alternate supports.  The nice thing about varnishing your works is that you get a really nice looking product when you’re done.  I find the gloss finish really adds a lot and looks like the watercolors when they’re first applied juicy and wet.



Lock, Stock, and Barrel, 12" x 16", watercolor on canvas

Available at ArtByUs