Watercolour paintings are traditionally framed behind glass - this ensures their longevity by reducing the amount of damaging light that can reach the painting and paper surfaces. It also keeps off the dust. In fact, framing behind glass should be considered an option for all paint media, even oils, it is those oil paintings that were preserved in this fashion that have survived in the format the artist completed the work in, with full and luscious colours and vibrancy.
WHAT CAN BE DAMAGED AND HOW
A watercolour painting comprises two main features, the paint on the surface, and the medium onto which it is painted. In most cases, that is paint onto paper. Both of these are susceptible to major and persistent changes in climate and to light.
Light can deteriorate the intensity of the colour, the substrate of the paint itself so it loosens and may crumble off, and can alter the colour of inferior papers even leading to disintegration.
Changes in climate, severe or consistently will also have the same type of impact.
ONLY THE BEST QUALITY MATERIALS ARE USED
To ensure you get the best value for your investment, Jan Irving has only used the best of materials since July 2008. The decision was easy to make, but the research into finding the best, from top producers likely to last a long time, and at a sensible price was an exacting process.
Only paints with a proven and tested light fastness rating of I (the top ranking), at at the very worse rank II (will only fade under extreme conditions) are used. Likewise, the choice of paper is restricted to acid free material from brands noted for their paper quality and durability.
This ensures you are getting a beautiful painting made from quality and proven materials.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE THE LONGEVITY OF YOUR PAINTING?
Ideally, but of course it is not practical, a painting should be kept between acid free sheets in a light proof box or file, but you can't enjoy your painting in such circumstances unless you take it out.
Framing ensures you can enjoy your painting and share it with visitors.
Framing can be undertaken by anyone, just ensure they make a solid and insect proof frame, use decent glass, and only ever use acid free mounting or matting board, backing, and mounting and sealing tape.
The painting should not touch the glass, so a mat or mount are ideal and they can really highlight the artwork and at the same time keep the painting from touching the glass.
The painting should only be attached to the back of the mount OR front of the backing board, not both. And in either case it should be suspended by two, three, or four short segments of acid free tape in a clothes peg fashion not one long strip. This allows for the natural shrinkage and expansion of the watercolour paper without stressing it.
Watercolour paintings do often leave a slight buckling to the watercolour paper surface, even if the paper was properly stretched and secured during painting. The buckle is usually unnoticeable except to really peering eyes, but it does help to verify the originality and genuine nature of the item.
Jan Irving generally uses block mounted paper which is prestretched so the paper is not subject to serious buckling. Once removed from the block the black adhesive is visible along the edges of the paper if the paper has not been trimmed - the paper does not need to be trimmed.
Once the glass, mount/mat, painting, and backing board are lined up and fitted into the frame and they have been secured there, insist that the seams are also protected by acid free tape, this will protect the painting from climate variations and help keep insects out of the picture.
The hardware is now added that allows the painting to be hung, but also add an envelope or pocket for your Certificate of Original Artwork and other relevant papers related to this piece, a note of the owners (provenance), care instructions, whatever.
Generally a professional framer or glass cutter will offer you picture glass or non-reflective glass. Picture glass is the crystal clear stuff that catches light and can have bright and glarey glances on it, which just isn't suitable in houses with a lot of windows. In the very well lit house, natural or even artificial, consider the more expensive non-reflective glass which tends to be a bit grainy unless you stand right in front of it and look through it at eye level, but these are good guidelines for hanging the picture in any case.
You can also invest in archival or museum grade glass which reduces the amount of damaging light that actually strike the image.
THE FRAMED PAINTING - A MASTERPIECE ON YOUR WALL
The colour of the mount is your choice, choose a colour that complements your wall colour, may be choose a colour that features to a small degree within the painting so it all ties together but is not overwhelming to the painting or the room.
The width of the mount, whether it is more than one layer, or has detail or highlights added to it are individual choices, but each or a combination can really add impact to the overall effect if the added decoration is not louder than the picture itself.
The mount/mat should sit over the edge of the painting, which helps position the painting within the frame. While most of Jan Irving's paintings are painted to the edge of the paper, there is still design room for a mount to rest over the edges of the painting.
A craftsman framer can offer you an offset mount too, most contemporary factory framers (including online framing options) will only centrally cut the mount so the four sides are equal widths.
The same applies to the frame, a massively wide frame that is heavily ornate and boldly gilded is more typical of frames for oil paintings several feet wide and tall and hung high in 20 foot plus halls, perhaps your room just can't hold such a structure on the wall to feature a watercolour. The frame should not dwarf the painting or the artist's impact will be lost. A slender frame may be all that is needed, just to define the boundaries but without invading the wall space.
The framed painting should give the illusion of looking through a portal to another world, the world shown in the painting.
The choice position for a painting be Jan Irving is on the wall at about eye level, and so it can be viewed when you are standing about 6 feet from it; that is the way it was finished by the artist with all those specifications in mind. In most cases, the quality of the lighting and shadow on the painting was finished under white fluorescent lighting but checked under filtered daylight too, so these are your top choices for lighting of the picture.
Avoid a position that catches strong artificial internal lighting or sunlight from windows at anytime through out the day.
By carefully framing and positioning your painting it will have real impact and not show any deterioration in quality for many, many years.
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