How to Mount a Painting on Paper to a Wood Panel

How to Mount a Painting on Paper to a Wood Panel

When I travel to teach abstract painting workshops across the US, I cannot lug around a bunch of canvases to do my painting demonstrations on. I carry with me gesso covered watercolor paper instead because it is lighter and takes up less space in my portfolio case. Consequently, I have some paintings on paper in my studio. To put these paintings in exhibitions, I have two options for presentation: 1. I can frame the paintings or 2. I can mount the paintings on wood panels.

Framing works fine with acrylic paintings on canvas. They are sturdy, permanent and lightfast, so you can frame them without putting them under glass. My framer simply mounts the painting to a rigid board and then frames it, just as if it were on a canvas panel.

I prefer not to frame my pieces because of the cost. The technique illustrated in this video is much less expensive than framing. The painting is 22x28 and I am mounting it on a 24x30 cradled wood panel, which costs about $40 (lots cheaper than framing). When completed the painting will have a 1" border of the exposed wood panel around it - which looks a lot like a frame.

Here are the materials you need: A painting on paper; a cradled wood panel that is 1"-2" larger in each dimension than your painting; acrylic gel medium; brush; a piece of 3-4 mil. plastic larger than the panel; a rigid board; some type of weight.

Here are the steps:

  1. Once I purchase the wood panel (which is 1-1/2" deep), I paint the edges and about 1-1/2" onto the panel black. Sometimes I'll finish it with polyurethane for a clear finish. This always takes two coats with light sanding between with a fine grit sand paper. Let the panel dry for a couple of days.
  2. Use the brush to apply the gel medium (which acts as the adhesive) to the back of the painting. I try to leave 1/4-1/2" of the paper edges without the gel medium - this keeps it from squirting out onto the wood panel when the weight is applied - that way there is not a mess of adhesive to mar the surface of the panel.
  3. In the same manner apply the gel medium to the wood panel. Again I don't put it all the way to where the edges of the paper will be.
  4. Put the paper onto the panel and adjust it so that there is an even border of wood panel showing all around the painting. Measure if needed to make sure the edge is a consistent dimension. Use a roller, your hands or a towel to work out from the center of the painting to make sure all air is removed and you get a solid seal. Clean any excess gel that squirts out around the edges of the paper.
  5. Add the plastic over the top, followed by the rigid board. Add weights to the top of the board. I try to put most of the wight around the edges. Mostly I use 1 gallon jugs of gesso and paint for my weights. You can also turn the panel upside down on a hard surface and put the weight on the backside of the panel if you prefer.
  6. Leave 24 hours. Once the time is up, remove the weights, board and plastic to reveal the beautiful finished product. You can paint over any excess gel that may gotten on the panel.

And that's it. Now your beautiful painting is mounted (and with a wire hanger added to the back) and ready to hang on the wall to be enjoyed by all.

If you would like to learn more tips and tricks to make your look professional, then please join me for a workshopjoin one of my online courses, or get an Individual Art Lesson.