Modern Watercolor for Modern Artists

Modern Watercolor for Modern Artists

If you’re a watercolor painter, are you still matting and framing your watercolor paintings? Are you paying your framer more than your paintings are worth? Are you tired of looking through glass reflections to see your paintings? Are your paintings using presentation techniques that are so 20th century?

If so, welcome to the 21st century and the age of Modern Watercolor. I’m not trying to discourage you from using a framer, I’m only trying to make sure you know there are now options for the presentation of watercolor paintings other than framing. There are plenty of advancements that provide watercolor painters with more options than ever before in both painting surfaces and painting presentation.

I ditched all my frames earlier this year and stopped framing anything about 2 years ago. I have found that putting varnish on my watercolor paintings (which does the job of glass in protecting the artwork from UV rays and debris build-up on the surface) and mounting them directly to cradled wood panels is a great, inexpensive alternative to matting an framing. Instead of paying $300-600 for a frame, I can now spend $10 for a can of varnish and $30 for a cradled wood panel and do the mounting myself. I love the look and feel of the watercolor paintings on a natural finished wood panel.

I use GOLDEN Archival Spray Varnish to protect the surface of the paintings. I start with 4 layers of gloss varnish and finish with a layer of matte varnish. I know it sounds odd to put gloss varnish on a watercolor, put gloss varnish is completely transparent, and even enhances the color of your painting. Matte varnish, if used in layers, has a less transparent finish and will cloud if applied in layers (because matting agents are not completely transparent). Once dry I mount the painting to a wood panel.

Watercolor painters are no longer limited to painting just on paper. I love painting watercolor on canvas - and not that silly watercolor canvas that Fredrix makes - that stuff is too much like hot press paper for me. I’m talking about adding an absorbent ground to the canvas, then painting on the ground. Once complete, it is a watercolor painting on canvas. I use the same varnishing technique as described above, paint the edges of the canvas and bam, a beautiful watercolor on canvas, with no need for matting and framing.

If you’re a watercolor painter and haven’t tried these techniques, what are you waiting for? I have a one-day Modern Watercolor on Canvas Workshop at my studio in North Carolina on July 19, 2019. You bring your usual watercolor paint and brushes and I supply everything else. You’ll leave with a beautiful watercolor painted on canvas. You can find out more information about it and/or register by Clicking HERE.

If you'd like to learn about abstract painting, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2019 workshops HERE)

  • January 10-12, 2019 Arts Alliance of Lee County, Fort Myers, FL. For information and registration Click Here.

  • January 25-27, 2019 Daytona Art League, Daytona Beach, FL. SOLD OUT-Waiting List

  • February 6-8, 2019 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration Click Here.

  • February 15, 2019 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. This 1-day workshop is on Acrylic Monoprinting - all supplies included - just bring yourself! For information and registration Click Here.

  • March 5-8 Cultural Arts Alliance, Santa Rosa Beach, FL. For information and registration contact Bonnie Loman. Email:

  • March 27-29, 2019 Amarillo Art Institute, Amarillo, TX. For information and registration contact Rachel Flores, Email:

As always, thanks so much for your support!


P.S. If you you'd like to learn more about Abstract Painting in the comfort of your home or studio, I have a great course called Abstract Painting Academy available for you:

Abstract Painting Academy is the next best thing to a live workshop event. You can find out more by Clicking Here.

$100 Off for a Limited Time