Step 2 - Sealing the Artwork

After cleaning up the artwork from debris and cat hair, as explained in Step 1, I taped the canvas on a piece of gatorboard. Any rigid surface like cardboard or foamboard can also work for this purpose. Then I took it outside to begin the sealing process.

Sealing the piece creates a separation layer between the painting and the final varnish. Because the final varnish ages and collects dust and grime through the years, it needs to be removable for conservation purposes; if it sticks to the painting it would be impossible to replace. 

However, there's another very important reason for sealing. In my technique, beside colored pencils, I use wax pastels (Neocolor), both the water-soluble and water-resistant ones, and blend them with heat . If I were to apply the final varnish without sealing, the water-soluble pastels would get wet and possibly smeared by the brush during the painting process. I use a final varnish because I frame my art without glass.  

I sealed the artwork with Golden Archival Spray Varnish, gloss. This sealing varnish contains ultraviolet light filters and stabilizers (UVLS) to provide archival protection and inhibit light damage. It's a mineral spirit varnish and therefore I apply it outside while wearing a dust mask on a non-windy day. I lean the artwork on a wall so that big droplets fall onto the pavement and not on the painting. 

Golden Archival Spray Varnish can be used in place of fixative by colored pencil artists who frame their work under glass. It not only protects from UV damage but it also completely suppresses wax bloom formation, a problem that occurs with some wax-based colored pencils. For this purpose, 5 or 6 light layers are sufficient.

Considering that my piece is very large and needs complete sealing, I sprayed a total of 12 light layers, waiting at least 30 minutes in between. After each layer I bring the artwork inside the garage and let it dry away from sun and moving air. I rotate the artwork from a horizontal to a vertical position at each spraying session and always spray from side to side at about 10" distance. When the sealing process is finished I let the artwork rest inside for a few days. 

On my next post I will show you how I mount the canvas on a 40" x 60" x 2" Claybord.

Step 1: before varnishing

Step 2: sealing the artwork

Step 3: mounting the artwork on a panel

Step 4: having the artwork professionally photographed

Step 5: applying the final varnish

Step 6: framing the artwork