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Blog Category: Step-by-steps

Glassless Framing

Many artists have asked me how I frame my artwork on paper without glass so I decided to write a post about the process I follow.

1. FIXATIVE

I gently remove any wax bloom with a soft cloth. Edit (3/31/11): if I'm dealing with a lot of wax bloom, I blow some warm air over the affected area with a hair dryer or heat gun. The wax bloom disappears right before my eyes.

Then I take my piece outside and spray it with 5 coats of  Prismacolor Final Fixative - Gloss, waiting 15 minutes between coats. Edit (11/29/12): In place of fixative I now use Golden Archival MSA Spray Varnish - Gloss. After it's dry I run a white cotton handkerchief over its surface. If there is no color residue left on the handkerchief my artwork is ready for varnish, otherwise I spray more fixative. It's important to create a solid barrier between the pigments and the varnish. I let the fixative dry overnight.

2. MOUNTING

I mount my large pieces on Ampersand  Claybord with 3/4" cradle, the smaller ones on Claybord with 2" cradle. There are also 1/8" flat panels available. I like the Claybord panels because their surface is completely archival, lightfast and acid free. After dislodging any debris from the back of my artwork, I trim the extra white paper around it.

My artwork at this point should be a bit larger than the panel - to account for possible misalignment during mounting. I carefully mount it on a sheet of  Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film which I then mount on the panel. After turning the panel upside down, I trim the edges and put it under heavy books overnight. Please practice mounting before you do it with a valuable  piece of art.

More on this on the following post: How to Mount Paper on Board. Update (2/26/2013)

3. VARNISHING

I usually paint the edges of the cradled panel in acrylic and then begin varnishing with Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS (Ultra Violet Light Stabilizers) - Gloss. This is a waterborne acrylic polymer varnish that dries to a protective, flexible, dust-resistant surface. It needs to be thinned with water, 2-3 part varnish to 1 part water. I apply at least 3 coats with a soft, wide brush and wait 3 hours between coats. The varnish cures completely in one week. You can then frame your panel or hang it without a frame.

This process, especially at the beginning, is a little time consuming but certainly worth the effort. I just love that my art can be exhibited along with the best oil and acrylic paintings and still generates the most curiosity. "I can't believe it's colored pencil" has become the standard reaction followed by numerous questions on my technique and presentation.

Into the LightAbove and BelowThe Butterfly Effect

 

If you you are interested in how I mount and frame my artwork on canvas without glass, please visit the following posts:

Canvas and the Icarus Board
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post

 

Speckling Technique for a Starry Sky

The starry sky of "The Butterfly Effect" could not have been accomplished in colored pencil without the Icarus Drawing Board. The choices would have been to painstakingly draw the blue sky around the white of the paper or to paint masking fluid over hundreds of stars. Instead I came up with the following technique:

Step 1: I laid down several different blue Neocolors II on the warm zone.
Step 2: I used a gray paper stump to thin and blend the crayons on the warm zone. This is accomplished by making small circles with the paper stump while cleaning the excess wax with a paper towel.
Step 3: I kept on working until the colors were evenly blended.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

 

Step 4: I grated a blue colored pencil on a sand paper block.
Step 5: I shook the blue speckles over the crayon background.
Step 6: I grated a white colored pencil on coarse sand paper.

Step 4 Step 5 Step 6

 

Step 7: I shook the white speckles over the crayon background.   
Step 8:
After placing a sheet of tracing paper over the colored pencil speckles, I pressed down with a brayer on the warm zone.
Step 9:
The speckles melted into the blue background and created a starry sky effect.

Step 7 Step 8 Step 9

 

For another example of "speckling" see Snake River Pebbles.

 

Achieve a Very Smooth Gradation Using Heat

On step #1 I layer on the cool zone process red, pink and white colored pencils over light blue artist crayon (see more on "layering" on previous post). I use the side of the pencil, not the point.

After moving the paper to the warm zone I start blending with a paper stump. Here, again, I'm using the side, not the point, and make small circles as I blend. Step #2 shows you the blending in progress.

On step #3 you can see the end result: a very smooth and flawless color gradation. This technique will allow you to blend a large area in a very short time.

#1 - Color Gradation#2 - Color Gradation#3 - Color Gradation

 

 

Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon & Oil Pastel?

As you can see on step #1, it's impossible to layer a hard medium over a softer one. The pink colored pencil can only make indentations and scratches over the light blue artist crayon. Here is where the Icarus Drawing Board can help you.

On step #2 the thick layer of crayon is thinned out on the warm zone with a color shaper or a gray paper stump. I use the side, not the point of the paper stump and make small circles until I'm left with a thin, saturated layer of color.

After moving the paper to the cool zone, I'm now able to easily layer colored pencil over artist crayon (see step #3).

#1 - Layering Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon or Oil Pastel#2 - Layering Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon or Oil Pastel#3 - Layering Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon or Oil Pastel