Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year (with doodles and varnishing technique)

Here are a few doodles that were made with the intention of testing out some new varnishing methods. I have been working with mixed media for a while now and I was investigating some alternatives to framing under glass. While the presentation of a matted and framed piece is very traditional and protects the image very well, it is very expensive and in some instances can be down right boring.

So in order to explore other possibilities, I made these little mixed media bird doodles and varnished them with varying techniques. The watercolor paper is mounted to a piece of professional quality hardbord (I like Ampersand's products). I like to use a cradled hardbord for mounting the paper. This way, a wire is easily attached to the back for framing purposes.

I found that the best method proceeds as follows: Since I work on watercolor paper with water-based media and drawing materials, I needed to seal the drawing in order to prevent the varnish and isolation coat from smearing the watercolor. The best method for this was using a resin-based artist grade fixative. Several light layers were applied. After the fixative dried, an isolation coat of acrylic gloss soft gel mixed 2 to 1 with water was applied. This permanently seals the image against moisture and creates a barrier between the final layer of varnish and the artwork itself. A UV blocking archival spray varnish is then applied for the final protective coat. The varnish is removable for conservation purposes.

In essence, the piece becomes a mixed media acrylic painting due to the application of the soft gel. The watercolor paper is sealed to prevent buckling or molding due to moisture and the watercolor/drawing materials are fixed in place. The piece can then be displayed without glass, just like a traditional oil or acrylic painting.

I'll be making several small paintings using this method. Check back for more info!

Happy New Year