This entry was originally posted on Sunday, February 19, 2012

My question to answer this week actually comes from one of my students, Sue, in one of my classes.

Her question was:

Is there a way to varnish/seal a watercolor so it does not have to be put under glass?

The answer is yes.

I do find that the feel of an authentic watercolor gets lost but it is possible and I have done it on a few of my paintings.

You can use an acrylic medium mixed with some water to varnish a watercolor painting.

The difficulty of varnishing a watercolor is how to put the medium onto the painting without smearing all the beautiful colors you have painted.

My solution is to use a UV Krylon fixative type spray on the painting first. I prefer a matte spray.

Then after that has dried for a day, I apply the acrylic medium to the back of my watercolor and adhere it to hardboard that is the size of the painting. The medium acts like a glue here. I will continue to use the medium to coat the front and sides.

Don’t use too much medium though. It will go foggy if you do.

And make sure you cover the whole painting. I like to use a crisscross pattern with a hake brush to apply the medium.

Now it can be framed so it doesn’t have to be put under glass.*


*Update: Since this post, there have been many improvements in products that can be used to varnish watercolors. Because of these improvements, I now varnish most of my work and I love the look of it when it is varnished.

I no longer use the Krylon UV fixative, instead I use Krylon’s Kamar Varnish to set my watercolors. I will still use matte medium to glue the painting to a board.

I will then use Golden’s Isolation coat before I finally apply Golden’s UV acrylic gloss varnish with a brush to my watercolor painting.

Leslie Lambert

Author Leslie Lambert

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