Caring for Watercolor Paintings

These are some things you need to know once you get your painting home and ready to put on the wall.  If you have questions, please contact me using the link above.

Paint: Lightfastness

I use the most lightfast paints I can find. However, every year we learn more about the pigments and paints we use. Some that were considered excellent in the past have now been discovered to be not lightfast [PY40-Aureolin].

For this reason, you should not hang original artwork of any kind where it receives direct sunlight.  If possible, have the painting covered in UV protective glazing.  

Paper

I use only 100% cotton rag paper in my paintings.  They are acid free, archival and expected to last for centuries in a dry climate.  

Please keep in mind that paper wicks moisture.  It will expand and contract with the humidity in the air.  That's normal, and that's why professionals only attach the painting to the matboard at the top - so that the paper does not wrinkle as it changes shape in different weather. 

Framing 

Every artist has a different opinion about frames.  I choose the frame according to how my pieces will look in an exhibit and how they look as a collection.   I do not expect a collector to keep the frame I chose.  If you want to change the frame so that it fits better with your own surroundings and collection, I encourage you to do so. 

Use a professional framer who can offer you excellent quality matting and glazing.

Matboard

I use only conservation quality matboard with my paintings. That means that there is nothing in the matboard that will interact negatively with the paper and paint used in the painting.   

If you decide to change the matboard to a different color, make sure it is conservation or museum quality.  Museum quality is generally thicker than conservation quality.  Both are considered safe for 100+ years.

Glazing

Acrylic is a common type of glazing used in framed artwork these days because it is light and does not shatter. Many exhibits, competitions, galleries and museums require the use of acrylic on a painting in case it is dropped.  Because artists are not always sure whether a painting will be used in an exhibit requiring the use of acrylic, many of us have switched to using only acrylic when we frame.

Acrylic is not UV protective and it scratches easily.  

Glass is a very good choice for use in a painting that has found a permanent home in your collection.  It is heavy, but it is UV resistant. [That's why you can't get a sunburn through a window.]  It is also much more resistant to accidental scratching.   If you purchase a painting covered by acrylic, it is perfectly appropriate to have it re-framed with glass. 

Non-Glare choices have pros and cons.   A non-glare glass can make the painting easier to appreciate in the location you need to put it, but it can also obscure details.   Use your best judgement and get a recommendation from the artist.

I have found that the non-glare glass with a pebbled texture obscures too much detail.