Susie, I have two questions, one about finish spray for a painting, and the other about the tape to hold the watercolor in place. I sprayed some of my paintings with the spray fixative, then I tried a clear varnish enamel. That gives a beautiful finish, but what is the right thing to do? Also, I use masking tape to hold the paper, because the paper tape they recommend is so hard to take off afterwards. Thanks-Opal
Hi Opal! I'm glad you asked me these questions!
- I sprayed some of my paintings with the spray fixative, then I tried a clear varnish enamel. That gives a beautiful finish, but what is the right thing to do?
The favored way to preserve watercolor paintings is to place them behind glazing (such as glass or Plexiglas) when they are framed. It is also recommended that there is a space between the watercolor painting and the glazing so that the painting does not make contact with the glazing. Using a complimentary mat usually provides this space. Framers also use a product they call "frame space" (a small strip of plastic) that is placed under the lip of the frame between the glazing and the painting if you do not want to mat the painting.
Generally, watercolor paintings are not treated with a spray fixative. I'm sorry I don't have first hand knowledge to share with you since I do frame my paintings under glass or Plexiglas.
But I can tell you an artist friend of mine does use a spray fixative for some of her larger work and recommends Golden Archival Spray Finish. She says to spray 4-5 light coats of the Golden Archival Varnish Spray Gloss Finish first then spray 4-5 light coats of Golden Archival Varnish Mat Finish. You want to do this in a well ventilated area and be sure to let the painting dry between each coat of spray.
Then she applies a coat of Acrylic Mat medium (with a brush) to make the surface totally sealed and scrubable.
- I use masking tape to hold the paper, because the paper tape they recommend is so hard to take off afterwards.
If you are referring to the type of paper tape used while stretching watercolor paper I'm out of the loop when it comes to recommending alternatives. I don't stretch my watercolor papers. Sorry.
If you are talking about using the tape to secure your watercolor paper while you are painting. Masking tape may be used but there is a great tape made for us called "Artist's Tape" (available at most good artists supply stores ) that is archival so its is also great for framing. It holds securely and is easy to remove. It is more expensive than masking tape but well worth the extra cost if you don't run the risk of damaging your paintings. Use it on dry paper not soaked paper.
BTW: I don't tape down my watercolor paper before painting on it. I like to paint on loose/unsecured/unstretched Arches 140# CP watercolor paper. Sometimes I will put a small piece of artist tape on the corners to keep it in place when I using an easel or painting outside. Other artists do tape more then I do -- this is just my way of doing it!
I hope that gives you some ideas. Thanks for writing!