Thursday, 24 March 2016

Watercolour canvas & varnish: Experiment I

 Some time ago Sylvie brought 'watercolour canvas' to the group, canvas that is treated with a gesso that works for watercolours and is already stretched on a carton. You probably know it, it's often used for acrylics and oils:
She bought it in Destock in Grasse, for a ridiculous price, 1,20 € or so - and I really felt like trying it out. So I bought a couple of sizes and started experimenting.
The less good things (for me) were:
Pencil stains enormously, not possible to erase it
Not possible to lift the paint  (and repair small mistakes)
Does not absorb paint, it's hard to get an even surface
Is very white
But as far as I could see, the rest was ok: masking fluid came off, effect of salt - same as with paper.
Dark colours possible, layering possible.  So after a couple of try outs I created a serious painting -a study that I wanted to do anyway because I will soon start another Koi Carp project - and it worked out on the carton:
Fish in the pond
The different thing about the carton is that it doesn't have to be framed in your standard glass-covered frame, but that it could work in a frame for canvases. Which are lighter and more varied.
But they have to be protected against sunlight and dirt. In other words, varnished. Just a couple of layers of normal watercolour varnish are not enough (as I found out the hard way some years ago, the coffee stains are still there to prove it.)
I googled it and found logical advice: start with spraying a couple of layers of aquarelle varnish, when dry - spray a couple of layers of acrylic varnish. When dry - acrylic varnish with a brush.

Been there, done that, piece of advice: take LONG drying times. During this experiment I only waited until the varnish FELT dry and then added a new layer. When I used the brush, the darker colours became fluid again!! As an aquarellista  I can handle that and I got away with it. But for the next layer I gave it a day to dry - and there were no problems. The result is lovely, the colours are brought out a bit more with the varnish and my watercolour now looks so classy! By way of test I have (on purpose, ew!) spilled coffee on it, let the stains dry - and they came off with a wet cloth.
It hangs in a classic frame... front of a window - so in a couple of years we will know if the colours keep... :D

To be continued!

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