Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sealing a Watercolor Painting With Wax

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post about gallery wrapping watercolor paper.  I'd like to give a big thank you to Charlene McGill for sharing this knowledge with me and her permission to share what she has written with you.  There are two schools of thought on sharing techniques and ideas; the first is keep it to yourself and use it to help you stay unique, and the second is that what we know or learn should belong to everyone.  I believe in the second idea and appreciate others who do as well.  Sharing what we know doesn't diminish our work or stature, rather it adds to it.  
Painted all the way around the edges.

This style of finish focuses the viewers eye on the work.  Isn't it nice to know there are choices when you don't want a frame?
One of the problems I run up against with my own work is the expense of framing it.  In life I have often found that I either have time or money, but rarely both at the same time.  In painting, it's no exception.  

Char shared:

Waxing your painting as a final finish:

Doesn't this sound scary?  I couldn't believe that waxing my paintings was a viable and EASY solution to finishing them.  I must confess that it's my preferred method because the watercolour seems to retain its character look.

v Again, there is a variety of products from which you can choose what's best for your own process. 
Ø  I use Dorland's Wax Medium. 
Ø  I have also tried Gamblin Wax Medium which is also easy to apply.  Both contain Damar resin and beeswax. 
v This wax is typically used by oil painters to change the viscosity of their pigments, making them smoother and easier to manage. 
v It can be used directly from the container.
v It dries to a completely transparent finish, improving the luminosity and clarity of colour!
v You can clean the surface with a damp cloth!
Wax treated paintings hung for a gallery show of McGill's work.  Notice that some have been dropped into frames just as you would an oil or acrylic piece.  
Steps to applying a wax finish.

  1. This is so easy, it's almost unbelievable.
  2. Select a very soft lint free cloth.  Cradle it around your fingers and scoop out a little wax from the container.
  3. Apply it in a circular motion.  As soon as your cloth "drags", scoop out more wax.
  4. Continue applying the wax over the surface and around the edges of your painting.
  5. Allow this coat to dry completely.  It'll take a few hours depending on the humidity in your area.
  6. Using a clean, dry and lint free cloth, buff the surface.  You'll see a very slight sheen.  Application lines, if any, will buff out.
  7. Apply a second coat exactly the same way you applied the first.
  8. Once it's dry and buffed, examine the sheen.  You likely won't need a third coat, but you can at this stage if you feel it's necessary.
  9. Turn over the work and apply a coat of wax on the back.

The wax bonds with the watercolour down into the fibres of the paper.  Because it's a petroleum product, it does not reactivate the watercolour.  No toxic sprays or substances are needed.  You don't have to "set" your watercolours before waxing.
Either painted as vignettes like the canning jars or around the sides like the corn and gourds, this it a beautiful way to present watercolors.  

Seriously?  That's it?  This is very do-able and as you can see from images of Char's work finished this way, quite attractive.  Wax mediums such as Dorland's or Gamblin aren't expensive. In fact, a small jar costs about the same as a full sheet of Arches 140lb. paper.  Now I am looking for excuses to get myself to town and the local art store for wax medium.  Thanks again, Charlene McGill, for passing this along to me and anybody else who thinks this is a great idea!  

To see McGill's work and learn more about her, you can visit her website HERE. Be sure to check out her gorgeous paintings.  

Ya'll come back now!  Alice 

Beautiful work, simply set off.  Quite effective.

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