e-tips/newsletter "Watercolors"

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Sep 5, 2001
Kodak, Tn. USA
Here is the latest e-tips adapted for your use as newsletter content.

Preserving Delicate Watercolors

Ah, the beauty of watercolors, you know that the paint's translucence helps make it one of the most delicate and fleeting media used by modern artists. Light is perhaps its most voracious enemy, but non-reversible mounting, non-archival matboards and other framing mistakes can certainly take their toll on an original watercolor as well.

So, if you want to preserve an original watercolor and endow it with the longest, richest life you can, there's no question that conservation framing products and mounting methods will be your best friends.

Here are some general tips on how to keep watercolor originals vibrant and vital:


We recommend wearing cotton gloves when picking up a watercolor, because they prevent the transfer of dirt and skin oils from your hands. It's best to lift a watercolor from two pressure points to distribute its weight better-preferably by grasping two opposite edges of the paper. If you have a watercolor that has been rolled or creased, we'll take it out of the tube or container and let it "relax" on its own for a bit first, before we begin straightening it out. If we're unsure of our ability to handle, unroll or relax a particular watercolor painting, we may recommend calling a paintings conservator.


As conservation framers, we agree that using paper hinges and starch paste is generally the best way to approach the mounting of original watercolors. There are a few different configurations for applying paste hinges to artwork and mounting boards, including float mounts, but the general consensus is that it should be done in such a way that 1) no harm or alteration is done to the artwork, and 2) the hinges will tear instead of the artwork in the event the framed piece is ever dropped or jarred.


It's essential to choose the proper boards when planning a mat design for an original watercolor. We prefer to use rag matboards, plus, a conservation mat constitutes a suitable spacer between artwork and glazing, so a good rag board can do double duty in a watercolor frame. In terms of designing with conservation matboards, it's often best to keep watercolor mat configurations simple in appearance, so as not to overwhelm the painting. It's good general advice to steer away from matboards that have pronounced patterns or colors.


Another vital consideration in framing a watercolor is to choose ultraviolet light-filtering glazing products, which are important for all fine artworks on paper. It's equally important to remember that using conservation mounting techniques and matboards is futile if you don't finish off the frame with a piece of conservation glazing.

And finally

A few tips on what to do-and what not to do-with a watercolor artwork after it has been framed. Remember that light, humidity, heat and other environmental fluctuations can adversely affect your watercolor painting. Be sure to choose a spot that is well protected from these elements so that your children and grandchildren may enjoy it for years to come!

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Décor Magazine - The Art & Framing Business Resource.
I asked John months ago if it was ok, and he said as long as we put the "reprinted with permission by... after it.

Sure. You can also sign up to get them yourselves. We don't send them to you unless we have your opt in.

I hope this one doesn't cause the controversy the last one did! Sheesh!

John, you do realize that I am sort of rewriting (mostly editing) some of them to make them usable for our customers, don't you?

There aren't many things changed as you can see from this one if you compare it to the e-tips that was sent. I just want to make sure that you know what I'm doing, and it's still ok.