How to mat a watercolor painting

Framing a Watercolor Painting

Learn How to Frame a Watercolor Painting

How to mat a watercolor painting

It does not matter if the children gave the painting to you or if you painted it or purchased it.

It is important to know how to frame a watercolor painting properly. Whether the value of your painting is monetary or sentimental, be sure to protect and preserve it properly.

The biggest mistake made in purchasing an original work of art is not speaking to the artist or not asking the seller some very important questions. So what questions should I ask Jim? Here’s what you need to know. Type of paper used in the painting and the quality of the paint used in the painting.

Let’s suppose it had been painted on low-quality paper, wood pulp for example (don’t think my dear reader that this does not happen). It will just yellow like old newspaper does with age.

If you don’t know the quality of the paint used, fading of the paint could be a problem. Excellent color like genuine Vermilion could turn black if exposed to smoky atmospheres. Chrome yellows and reds can change to dull ochres and browns.

You need to know how to frame a watercolor painting and also how to mount a watercolor paintings.

FRAMING
Protect your work with a frame, mat and glass. Show your art in the best manner.

Trust me. I have seen this countless times, viewers will walk by a wonderful piece of art that’s ruined by the frame. Rule of thumb; if the frame “fits” the work, the frame becomes invisible.

Strive to match a picture with a frame that’s from the same period. This is what curators and collectors call a genuine picture in a genuine frame. Example a severe modernist work should not show up a Louix IV frame. Conversely, it is also true a frothy 18th-century work will look odd in an austere frame. Imagine a Jackson Pollock in an elaborate frame. Just use common sense.

There will be times when a reproduction of a historical frame can enhance a contemporary work.

OVER-FRAMING Some art galleries will over-frame. You have seen it; a giant gilded frame around a small painting. The thinking is the bigger the overall size, the bigger the selling price. Artists, however, should resist that commercial pressure, so beware of over-framing.

The frame should not compete with the work. You want the frame to make a statement, but you want the viewer’s eye to go into the painting, not the frame.

Frame to the work, and not the setting. Meaning forget about the color of the sofa and the way the other works already on the wall are framed. Fit the frame to the work.

MATS Best tip is to keep the mat as neutral as possible. No bright white or colored mats. Try off white, light tinted mats, do not use too many layers of mats, a classy simple framing job is best, and since you don’t know who is going to buy the work or where it will be hung, play it safe.

Mats must be acid-free. Yes I know the other mats are cheaper, but don’t be tempted. Everything must be archival, the mat, glass, adhesive tape, and backing (no cardboard). A good framing job is a must. People who buy art are savvy. They can tell a slipshod framing job, plus it reflects on the Artist. It’s all about you creating an image in the public’s eye.

Try getting the mat cut a little wider at the bottom, compared to the sides and top. It will look a lot better. Don’t choose or cut a mat that’s equal on all four sides. Same size top and sides OK, increase the size of the bottom.

Should you stay with today’s fashion, what’s in vogue, or stick with what has been timeless. This I know, trends come and go. Today’s vogue you have opulent wood frames, carved, inlaid, gilded, etc.

Colors up and down, a few years ago gold, then silver, then warm silver. This year bronze, coppery tones in classical shapes and designs are in.

But what seems to stay strong are simple classics that highlight and turn the eye into the painting. Nothing heavily carved, nothing too modern. A wide panel frame which is flat and smooth with grooves but no fancy carving looks great in contemporary and traditional spaces.

HOW TO FRAME
You have at least three choices.

  1. Complete job by a professional frame shop.
  2. Buy equipment and all materials and build everything.
  3. Buy frame from a catalog, hobby craft store, and then finish the framing.

No discussion is needed here if you go for choice number one.

Choice 2 or 3. My opinion, buy a ready made frame, the rest is fairly easy, but cutting angles and making a frame is NOT.

GLASS OR PLASTIC Glass can be partially non-reflective or just plain. Some exhibits or shows require plastic, as no glass is allowed.

Glass or plastic must not touch the painting, it must be raised-off by a mat or a lining of plastic “spacers” – shadowboxing, stacking two moldings with the glass in between and various other methods.

If the paper (or other media) were to touch the glass directly, any condensation inside the glass would be absorbed directly into the art, having no room to evaporate. This is harmful.

Mat Boards normally come in 40-inch by 30-inch sheets (you must have a mat cutter).

Again, you can buy ready made mats, glass or plastic all cut to fit your standard size frame. Some of the standard sizes of frames, mat and glass are: 8- by 10-inch, 9- by 12-inch, 11- by 14-inch, 16- by 20-inch, 18- by 24-inch, and 20- by 24-inch frames.

So you have purchased the frame – Now What?

Clean the glass; watch you don’t leave fingerprints.

Pre-cut the mat next since they are typically thin (about 1/16 inch); they can be cut to stack inside the frame allowing for double, triple or quadruple matting. They can be all colors of the rainbow.

The surface could be plain paper, linen, silk, even leather, and rice paper, which can be textured and patterned.

Most mats are only available with a white core (the tiny part that shows when a bevelled opening is cut). But a handful of mats does come with a black core, green, red and yellow.

A common form of decoration on non-cloth mats is the “French Line” or “French Panel”. These are lines drawn in ink or paint forming a rectangle around the opening. They could have several lines.

It is best to buy acid-free mats. An acidic mat will fade and leak into the artwork, causing “mat burn” – light brown marks.
If you have mats on existing artwork, look carefully at the white core if it has turned brownish or yellowed it is acidic. Replace it before it damages the work.

So you have the mat, now attach the picture with non-acid tape to the mat. Place it on the glass.

Next, comes the foam board. Hold it in place with the framing points (looks like small metal arrows).

Turn it over; look at the artwork before inserting point in the frame and across the top of the foam board (no cardboard backing).

Paper back attached to the back of frame covering top to bottom, side to side (called dust cover).

Drive in fasteners into the back of the frame, about one-third (1/3) down from the top. String wire between fasteners.

This guide will go through the various methods of mounting your artwork so you can get them properly displayed in picture frames, show kits or on their own. There are multiple options for mounting your artwork with matboard, including whether or not to use conservation materials and adhesive vs. non-adhesive matting. There are pros and cons to each method but there are some key principles which apply to all mounting.

Here are some key tips off the top:

  • Never tape on the front of the art work, use a T-Hinge
  • Only tape the top of the art, allow the art work to float and flex
  • Use plastic gloves to prevent spreading oils and dirt to the art work when handling

Comprehensive How-to Video for Picture Matting Mounting

Adhesive Methods for Mounting Your Art Work

Adhesive methods require some adhesive to touch the art. The materials and adhesives used are very important to consider, here are some popular options.

Household Tape: Simplest and cheapest option but acids and impurities can leech onto your art work and discolor it

If it’s not being framed, any outside size you like can be had.

Our matboards come in sheet of 32×40 so that’s the maximium size available.

Opening Size: also referred to as the mat window, it is the space reserved for the art work.

The opening size is typically 1/2″ smaller (1/4″ around the borders) than the art work so that there is an overlap for the art to be attached to the back of the matboard.

The opening size is measured from the bottom of the bevel cut (best to measure from the back of the mat).

Art Work Size: this is the actual image you want to show. The art work size is typically 1/2″ larger than the opening size so you can have an overlap to stick the art work to the back of the mat.

Mounting Process on the Mat Window

The most simple adhesive method to attach the art to the mat is to simply attach a few strips of tape across the back of the art and matboard. Remember to only tape the top edge. You can also attach photo strips or corners on the back of the mat (more detail in non-adhesive methods), and slide in your art work if you choose.

Non-Adhesive Methods for Mounting Your Art Work

Photo Corners: Triangle corners similar to those in photo albums. The corners are attached to the backing board or matboard, and the art work slides into them without any adhesive. Perfect for conservation matting since no adhesive comes in contact with the art, and it is highly reversible.

See-Thru Mounting Strips: A Mylar plastic strip enclosure with an adhesive attached to it. You simple attach the strip to the mounting board, and then slide your art through the Mylar. Perfect for conservation matting since no adhesive comes in contact with the art, and it is highly reversible.

How to mat a watercolor painting

Mounting Your Art Work on a Backing Board

  1. Center your art by laying it right in the middle of your backing board..
  2. Lay your mat window over the image and ensure it is still centered, adjust until perfect.
  3. Place a weight so that the art doesn’t move, a heavy cup works well.
  4. Adhere the image to the backing board using one of the following methods:
    • Use whichever tape you have and attach the top edge of the image to your backing board using a T-hinge. The T-Hinge allows you to tape on the backside of your art with vertical strips, then use a horizontal strip across the hinges.Lay your mat window over the image and ensure it is still centered, adjust until perfect.
    • Don’t use a straight edge tape that goes across the front of your art. The key here is to only tape the top side of the art. Over time with environmental changes, the mat, the tape and other materials will change in size and the art work needs room to flex. Slide your into the corners or strips, and attach your non-adhesive strips or corners to the backing board. You can do just the top if you are using the strips.


Attaching the Matboard and Backing Board

As you saw in the previous video, you can create a complete set with the matboard and backing board combined. Here is how.

Booklet: ine up your mat window and backing board and tape across both to create a hinge like a book. This makes a sandwich of backing board and photo mat window with your art work in between.

Permanent Seal: use double sided taped on the mounting board and lay the mat window right on top creating a permanent seal.

Separate Pieces: leave the backing board and mat window separate. If it will go in a picture frame this will work fine. It is also fine if you are using a show bag and the backing board is mostly to provide support and rigidity. This doesn’t work very well if the mat and backing board aren’t the exact same size however.

Once you have the art mounted, you can insert it into a picture frame or show kit. That’s it! No matter what method you use, just keep in mind your requirements for conservation and permanence.

We sell pre cut mats and custom picture frames in any size, color and quantity. Our products also include custom matting, backing boards, clear bags, show kits, matboard value packs, custom plexiglass.

A watercolor is unique in that it has a special blend of beauty and charm that is not achieved on any other art work. Watercolor paintings are delicate and are easily damaged, buckled and discolored, and can even crumple if not cared for properly.

Watercolors attract art lovers for their beautiful soft hues, subtle blending effects, varying degrees of transparency and even application. Watercolor-inspired home décor continues to trend this season too, and this is quite the apt time to bring a lovely watercolor painting home.

The color pigments used in watercolors are finely ground and combined with a water-soluble binder like gum Arabic. Artists mix the colors with water and paint them over absorbent surfaces like textured paper. When the water evaporates the color pigments stay on the surface bound by the gum Arabic.

If you have brought a lovely painting home and are wondering how you should take care of it, here are a few helpful tips for you.

1. Watercolors Need to Be Framed

Watercolors are best off when you frame them under glass, and there are compelling reasons to do so.

Watercolors are usually done on paper which will deteriorate very fast if left in the open. Also, the paper is never given a water-resistant coating prior to being painted upon because it will make application of colors difficult. Most artists refrain from applying any protective varnish over their completed work which makes the paintings quite vulnerable to environment damage.

Watercolors get reconstituted when they come into contact with moisture. Colors may shift, run or break, thereby ruining the painting. A glass front will protect the painting from dust and moisture damage.

You might not like the idea of putting your pretty watercolor behind glass but even dust has the potential to damage the painting permanently. The paper on which watercolors are done is a very delicate surface and will be easily damaged when you dust is. A glass protective panel will protect your art from dust and moisture as well as from insects, mold and mildew.

Ensure the glass your framer uses is glazed. UV-coated Plexiglass or Denglass is quite apt for the job.

There, now you see why framing a watercolor under glass is recommended by experts.

2. Archival Framing Techniques Are Essential

Archival framing assures the looks, life and quality of your art for decades to come. A well-preserved art work will outlast almost every other item you have used to spruce up your interiors including your favorite rug and sofa.

So what exactly is archival framing?

Archival framing involves using materials that do not affect the painting adversely in any manner. The mat, the backing and the hinges used for attaching the painting to the mat are all 100% acid-free.

The mat board should be made from cotton or linen rags. This is completely free of damaging acids and is considered to be of the highest quality.

Use of adhesives like glue is a complete no-no as far as quality framing is considered. Paper tapes or Japanese paper hinges are great for attaching the artwork to the mat board. They are of archival quality and do not leave any permanent effect on the painting.

Archival framing essentially is a fully reversible process and does not physically alter the original artwork in any way.

3, Quality of Frame Matters

When you go for archival framing, you cannot have too many options for the color. We often use colorful mats to help the art really pop but when it comes to archival framing the choice you have is a bit limited. Archival mats are usually used in neutral tones.

If you really want an ornamented art display you can consider going for customized and decorative frames. They will provide the right combination of glamour and functionality to your art work. Our Sydney custom picture framing services will meet all your framing needs.

If you are using a non-archival frame, you will have to line the insides of the frame where it touches the art with pH-neutral substance.

4. Hang the Painting Away from Light

Paintings in watercolor are particularly vulnerable to the effect of external factors like light and humidity.

Never hang your painting opposite a window or on a wall where it is exposed to full sunlight for most part of the day. This will cause colors to fade and the paper to become brittle.

The color pigments in watercolors are extremely sensitive and will quickly fade when exposed to the ultra-violet rays in sunlight. You will also be dismayed to see the paper drying out, turning brittle, bleaching out and taking on an ugly yellow hue.

Fluorescent light is also as bad as sunlight for watercolors, so you will have to keep your art work away from it as well. Your gallery expert will tell you that the UV concentration in fluorescent light is the same as in sunlight.

You should ideally hang the painting in a room with halogen or incandescent lighting. A low-emission ceiling spotlight is the best to highlight the painting.

5. Do Not Hang in Wrong Places

All places in your home are not suitable to hang art. Keep the watercolor away from heat, oils, odors and moisture in the kitchen. Also do not hang them near heaters or other heat-emitting appliances because that will damage the color pigments permanently.

The best tip from experts is to rotate the paintings periodically to protect them from over-exposure.

6. No Dramatic Changes in the Environment

Dramatic fluctuations in the environment can also damage the painting. You feel colder in museums and art galleries because their temperatures are set below 20 degree Celsius and the humidity is maintained between 50%-65%.

You need not fret too much unless you have a 100-year-old watercolor to preserve. The filtration system of your home HVAC will do the job quite well for other artworks.

Ensure there are no dramatic fluctuations in temperature or humidity levels in your home. This will be harmful to all your fine art possessions.

Conclusion

Watercolors are luminescent and add a soothing, and serene charm to your home. By keeping in mind the above points you can assure they remain beautiful, and preserve them for posterity.

Watercolor paper is usually a high quality paper with a deckled edge, which many artists want to show entirely in the framed presentation.

Watercolors present a special challenge when mounting for picture framing. Because they are original art, they are usually assumed to be worth preserving and should not be adhered with most self-adhesive mounting tapes, which are difficult to remove without tearing. What’s more, watercolor paper is usually a high quality paper with a deckled edge, which many artists want to show entirely in the framed presentation, edge-to-edge.

For these reasons, mounting techniques that require the mat to overlap the edges of the artwork, such as trapping with archival mounting strips or mounting corners, are beyond consideration. Certainly, any technique that involves coating the back of the artwork with adhesive is out. So mounting with proper mounting tapes is the only alternative.

Gummed linen tape has a high tensile strength and is reversible.

The Proper Tape for Mounting Watercolors

For mounting watercolors an easily reversible tape is essential. Reversibility is the ability to reverse the hold of the tape on the paper, allowing it to be peeled off without tearing. Gummed tapes are best for this purpose as they can be reversed with water. Just wet the head of a Q-Tip and work it along the edge of the tape. As soon as the water comes into contact with the adhesive it releases, allowing the tape to be peeled away cleanly.

Linen tapes are preferable to paper tapes when mounting watercolors. Linen tapes have a higher tensile strength, a primary consideration when mounting heavy watercolor paper.

Bearing all this is mind, gummed linen tape is the proper mounting tape for mounting watercolors.

The S-Hinge is a technique that conceals the tape well below the top edge of the artwork.

The Proper Technique for Mounting Watercolors

The best mounting technique is the S-Hinge, which is the only hinge mounting technique that properly conceals the tape behind and within the edges of the artwork, a necessity when the edges of the artwork are irregular or deckled. “Hinge mounting” is just picture framing parlance for mounting using tape, as opposed to trapping or coating the artwork with adhesive.

Two perform an S-Hinge start with a mat blank cut to your frame size. Using an art knife or box cutter, cut two narrow slits in the mat blank about two-thirds of the way up from the bottom edge. Feed a strip of tape about 2” long through each slit adhesive-side-up relative to the top edge of the mat blank. Adhere half the tape to the back of the mat blank in the area above the slit. Allow the other half to hang tongue-like down the front side of the mat blank. The artwork is adhered image side up to the tape that hangs down the front.

Once the artwork is mounted to the mat blank, a separate window mat can be cut with a window larger than the artwork. When the window mat is placed over the artwork, the artwork appears in its entirety (including its deckled edges) within the window of the mat. Glass is placed over the window mat. Foam board is placed behind the mat blank. The entire stack is placed in the frame and you’re done.

Mounting watercolors is challenging because, given the nature of the art, your options are limited, but if you use the correct methods and materials, mounting watercolors is not difficult.

Let me just say, I am completely in love with my DIY paw print wall art. It is without a doubt one of my favorite handmade home decor pieces of all time. It’s the most personal memento I have of my fur babies. But after I made it, I didn’t hang it up on the wall. Something was still missing, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was one project I wasn’t quite finished DIYing.
How to mat a watercolor paintingThen I realized that the white frame with the (almost) white paper and the black print was a little too colorless for me. It looked wonderful and classy, but if you know me, you know that I need some color in my life! I really didn’t want to change the frame color, so I decided to add some color by sprucing up the frame mats!

I was able to create a beautiful watercolor picture frame mat using acrylic paint. The possibilities of crafting with acrylic paint are really endless! I think it turned out wonderfully and adds the perfect touch of color to my paw print wall art. What do you think?

How to mat a watercolor painting

If there’s a piece of artwork in your home that you want to add a bit of color and personality to, I highly suggest making your own watercolor picture frame mat! It is super easy and literally takes less than 5 minutes to create a gorgeous, custom look for your picture frame mats.

Materials Needed to Create a Watercolor Picture Frame Mat

How to mat a watercolor painting

  • Water-based paint
  • Paint brush
  • 1 TBSP water in a small cup
  • Frame mat

Steps to Create a Watercolor Picture Frame Mat

1. Mix a little bit of your water-based paint into the water. Do this slowly a little at a time until you have the desired color you want. More paint will make the color darker and less transparent and vice versa. I used 1 TBSP of water and a few drops of paint to get the color for my photo frame mats. (I used a ramekin to mix my paint… nothing is off limits when it comes to crafting in this household!) I recommend experimenting with the color on a scrap piece of paper beforehand so you can make sure the color looks right before you begin painting your photo frame mats.

How to mat a watercolor painting

2. Dip your paint brush into the paint mixture and blot off the extra water on the side of the cup. Then gently draw the brush across the frame mat for a neat watercolor effect. Every so often stop to reapply the paint until you get the desired coverage on your frame mat. If you want to create patterns, you can paint diagonally back and forth or swirl the brush around on the frame mat in different directions. Another neat technique is to create an ombre effect by starting out with light colors and then eventually mixing in more paint for darker colors.

How to mat a watercolor painting

3. When you’re finished painting your photo frame mat, let it dry and then display it in your photo frame for everyone to see!

How to mat a watercolor paintingHow to mat a watercolor painting

I just love love love the way these turned out. I am thoroughly obsessed with the color, and they add such a wonderful dimension to my paw print wall art. It was definitely the perfect finishing touch to this project. Now that I am completely satisfied that this project is finished, the only question I have left to answer is where I’ll hang them up!

How to mat a watercolor painting

Do you have a picture frame in your home that is in need of a little pop of color or some personalization? I hope you’ll consider watercolor painting the frame mat. It’s amazing what a big difference a small amount of paint can make! And this seriously takes less than 5 minutes. You could do it during a commercial break of your favorite show. So you really don’t have any excuses not to give it a try! 😉

Will you be giving any of your frame mats a watercolor makeover? Shout out about it in the comments! If you’d like to make your own paw print art, you can find the tutorial for it right here. And if you enjoyed this post, you’ll love my newsletter. Sign up below for weekly craft, DIY, and home projects and tips!

Let me just say, I am completely in love with my DIY paw print wall art. It is without a doubt one of my favorite handmade home decor pieces of all time. It’s the most personal memento I have of my fur babies. But after I made it, I didn’t hang it up on the wall. Something was still missing, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was one project I wasn’t quite finished DIYing.
How to mat a watercolor paintingThen I realized that the white frame with the (almost) white paper and the black print was a little too colorless for me. It looked wonderful and classy, but if you know me, you know that I need some color in my life! I really didn’t want to change the frame color, so I decided to add some color by sprucing up the frame mats!

I was able to create a beautiful watercolor picture frame mat using acrylic paint. The possibilities of crafting with acrylic paint are really endless! I think it turned out wonderfully and adds the perfect touch of color to my paw print wall art. What do you think?

How to mat a watercolor painting

If there’s a piece of artwork in your home that you want to add a bit of color and personality to, I highly suggest making your own watercolor picture frame mat! It is super easy and literally takes less than 5 minutes to create a gorgeous, custom look for your picture frame mats.

Materials Needed to Create a Watercolor Picture Frame Mat

How to mat a watercolor painting

  • Water-based paint
  • Paint brush
  • 1 TBSP water in a small cup
  • Frame mat

Steps to Create a Watercolor Picture Frame Mat

1. Mix a little bit of your water-based paint into the water. Do this slowly a little at a time until you have the desired color you want. More paint will make the color darker and less transparent and vice versa. I used 1 TBSP of water and a few drops of paint to get the color for my photo frame mats. (I used a ramekin to mix my paint… nothing is off limits when it comes to crafting in this household!) I recommend experimenting with the color on a scrap piece of paper beforehand so you can make sure the color looks right before you begin painting your photo frame mats.

How to mat a watercolor painting

2. Dip your paint brush into the paint mixture and blot off the extra water on the side of the cup. Then gently draw the brush across the frame mat for a neat watercolor effect. Every so often stop to reapply the paint until you get the desired coverage on your frame mat. If you want to create patterns, you can paint diagonally back and forth or swirl the brush around on the frame mat in different directions. Another neat technique is to create an ombre effect by starting out with light colors and then eventually mixing in more paint for darker colors.

How to mat a watercolor painting

3. When you’re finished painting your photo frame mat, let it dry and then display it in your photo frame for everyone to see!

How to mat a watercolor paintingHow to mat a watercolor painting

I just love love love the way these turned out. I am thoroughly obsessed with the color, and they add such a wonderful dimension to my paw print wall art. It was definitely the perfect finishing touch to this project. Now that I am completely satisfied that this project is finished, the only question I have left to answer is where I’ll hang them up!

How to mat a watercolor painting

Do you have a picture frame in your home that is in need of a little pop of color or some personalization? I hope you’ll consider watercolor painting the frame mat. It’s amazing what a big difference a small amount of paint can make! And this seriously takes less than 5 minutes. You could do it during a commercial break of your favorite show. So you really don’t have any excuses not to give it a try! 😉

Will you be giving any of your frame mats a watercolor makeover? Shout out about it in the comments! If you’d like to make your own paw print art, you can find the tutorial for it right here. And if you enjoyed this post, you’ll love my newsletter. Sign up below for weekly craft, DIY, and home projects and tips!

Before I frame my watercolor paintings, I need to flatten them. I paint on unstretched paper, so my paintings usually dry with large buckles. Fortunately there’s an easy solution: I iron my watercolors! This is a technique I’ve used for years that I was introduced to by artist Ann Breckon.

How to mat a watercolor paintingMy steam iron

First I prepare my tools, an iron and spray bottle. I make sure both are clean and filled with distilled water. I plug in the iron and set it to the “cotton” setting. Next I lay out one large acid free mat board on my floor. I place my first painting face down on the board, lightly spritz the back with water, and carefully iron it. If some wrinkles persist, I may use a burst of steam to work it flat. When I have multiple paintings of similar size, I iron them individually, one on top of the next, with clean sheets of paper in between. Finally, I place another sheet of mat board on top of the paintings and weigh everything down with books overnight.

How to mat a watercolor paintingPaintings weighted down by heavy studio materials and books

Typically everything comes out flat as a pancake! If any wrinkles persist, I repeat the process. Before you try this on any important paintings, test out the technique with scraps as different paper and paints may vary in their results. My paper is usually Arches cold press 140lb with Daniel Smith watercolors and I’ve never damaged a painting.

Before I frame my watercolor paintings, I need to flatten them. I paint on unstretched paper, so my paintings usually dry with large buckles. Fortunately there’s an easy solution: I iron my watercolors! This is a technique I’ve used for years that I was introduced to by artist Ann Breckon.

How to mat a watercolor paintingMy steam iron

First I prepare my tools, an iron and spray bottle. I make sure both are clean and filled with distilled water. I plug in the iron and set it to the “cotton” setting. Next I lay out one large acid free mat board on my floor. I place my first painting face down on the board, lightly spritz the back with water, and carefully iron it. If some wrinkles persist, I may use a burst of steam to work it flat. When I have multiple paintings of similar size, I iron them individually, one on top of the next, with clean sheets of paper in between. Finally, I place another sheet of mat board on top of the paintings and weigh everything down with books overnight.

How to mat a watercolor paintingPaintings weighted down by heavy studio materials and books

Typically everything comes out flat as a pancake! If any wrinkles persist, I repeat the process. Before you try this on any important paintings, test out the technique with scraps as different paper and paints may vary in their results. My paper is usually Arches cold press 140lb with Daniel Smith watercolors and I’ve never damaged a painting.