Creative Techniques: How to Mount a Watercolor Painting on canvas

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water color teyjah

Framing watercolor paintings can be expensive. Properly framed, they look great, right?


I accumulate many painting during the course of a year! During my workshops, I often use segments of my warm up sketches or my entire demos as painting starts and make them into high end paintings. However, framing all of them can be a big expense. So early in my painting career I decided to present my paintings as did the ancient Egyptians… painted papyrus or painted paper glued onto wooden panels. This is not a new idea but present standards have changed.

Using acrylic gel medium as your adhesive, mount the artwork on to a canvas or wooden panel. No framing, mats or glass. Plus I like the contemporary presentation!

Have you ever considered mounting your watercolor paintings onto wooden panels or even on canvas? With the rising cost of frames these days, this may be a bit of a labor intensive suggestion but the final result is modern in its results as well as presenting a sharp, clean look. Not only do you save on frames, you save on mats and glass. It is also very lightweight.

To do this technique, you will need the following:

  • Your completed painting
  • A canvas or board slightly larger then your painting
  • Insulation styrofoam to fit the inside of your canvas for support.
  • Regular or soft gel gloss depending on the thickness of your paper.
  • Some sort of plastic spreader, roller or scraper to lay out the gel adhesive.
  • 2 sheets of thick polyethylene plastic (3 to 4 mm) larger than your canvas to protect your painting.
  • A wood board or other type of surface to keep the painting flat while it is drying.
  • A weight to put on top of your wood board.
  • Disposable plastic gloves.

Step 1. Make certain you have totally completed your painting. Have it signed, varnished and photographed.

Step 2. Purchase a canvas larger than your finished painting paper and color the sides with a neutral color approximately an inch inwards and a 1/4” of canvas

Step 3. Square off your painting on all sides and check for alignment.

Step 4. I put a form fitting insulation board cut-out that fits inside the canvas for support so that when I adhere the glued surfaces I am not warping my canvas as I press down. In a pinch you can stack up magazines, gatorboard or foam core for support.

Step 5. Take Soft or Regular gel gloss and apply it to the entire canvas. Do the same with the backside of your painting. This will insure good adhesion.

Step 6. Glue both surfaces down making certain you have centered you painting. Since it is watercolor, I put a see- thru polyethylene cover over top so I do not accidentally get some of the glue on my painting as I push from the center outwards.

Step 7. Put plastic disposable gloves on to do the following step. Make certain that you start pushing from the center outwards on all four sides to get rid of any air bubbles with a plastic spreader, roller or scraper. It will be messy as you remove the excess glue from around your frame. Do the best you can. Don’t worry the glossy gel will dry transparent.

Step 8. Take off that polyethylene cover and let it dry if there is any glue on it. Any glue will lift off the polyethylene once dry. Remove any gel that is around your painting.

Step 9. Once everything is cleaned, put another polyethylene sheet over top, then lay a heavy wood board, plywood or masonite over top. The important thing is to put a heavy weight on top. So you may find other alternatives such as foamcore or gatorboard to cover your surface but insure that you have weight over top.

Step 10. Wait at least 24 hours for proper adhesion and Voila!