How to Mat a Watercolor

What do you do when you finish a watercolor?
I’ve painted lots of watercolors and only matted a few even though I learned how to mat a long time ago. I prefer painting, not cutting out windows in matting board.  Recently I’ve started to mat some of them because I was thinking about framing a body of watercolors and showing them at one point or another.   I went out and got the tools and decided to post a ‘do it yourself’. 
 
Fiished Watercolor

Finished Watercolor

Slip proof ruler for cutting

Slip proof ruler for cutting

Safety First:  Use the right tools.  The blade on the cutter is extreemely sharp, so you must use a slip proof ruler with a cutting edge.  It’s better to cut through little by little with more passes than to cut deeply all at once.
 

Matting Board Cut to Size

Matting Board Cut to Size

Start by putting the mat board face down.  I’m going to mat a watercolor for a standard frame.  This is for a 16 in x 20 in frame. I want the window to be smaller than the paper so the board holds it down.  Always double check the measurements before cutting.  After I draw the cutting line, I put the watercolor on top to make sure the measurements are correct.

Make sure the measurement is correct

Make sure the measurement is correct

Looking at the corner, assures me that the window is the right size.

Slip Proof Ruler and Bevel Cutter

Slip Proof Ruler and Bevel Mat Board Cutter

When using the bevel 45º mat board cutter, place the cutter as in the picture above or the bevel will be the opposite of the desired result.  The blade has to be changed often or it will become difficult to cut and start ripping the board.  When cutting the corner, cut a little bit past the corner so the corner has a clean cut.

Matted Watercolor

Matted Watercolor

This watercolor has been matted for a 16 in x 20 in standard frame.

 

Here is a video of some of the small watercolors that I matted first.  If you are out of practice like me or doing this for the first time, it’s a good idea to start matting small watercolors until you get the hang of it.

Wild Flowers in Pickle Jar May 2nd 2015

   Not only do I like the way these wild flowers liven up the city landscape of Madrid with bright colors and interesting shapes, I also like the way they announce the coming of long summer warm days of light after a long cold winter.Wild Flowers in Pickle Jar May 2nd 2015

Wild Flowers in Pickle Jar May 2nd 2015

Here is how I started out

In Process

In Process

I started with a grid and a light line drawing. Then started in with watercolor working around the paper.  My intention is to end with harmony.  I try to paint on all areas of the paper before getting into specific detail.

Estabishing the dark and light areas

establishing the dark and light areas

This is what is starts to look like when I start to lay in the color.  Sometimes I want to put in the color and shape in one shot and in other areas I work lightly so I can go back in again.

Painting in a horizontal positiion

Painting in a horizontal position

I point my paper in the direction of what I’m painting to keep all the lines parallel

Detail

Detail

Here is a detail of the painting.

 

Wild Flowers – Watercolor Art Making Process

Wild Flowers in Pickle Jar is one of the watercolors from a spring series that I’m painting.  Spring is my favorite time of year because there is a special light, color and interesting forms and shapes everywhere.

Putting in the contasting color and estimating where everything can build onto it.

Started off with a light drawing to make sure the jar is parallel to the picture plane.  Then I  put in the contrasting color and estimate where everything can build onto it.

 I always start with my favorite part.

I don't pencil in the shapes of the flowers, I paint them directly with  a brush, so that they don't look hard and cut out.

I don’t pencil in the shapes of the flowers, I paint them directly with a brush, so that they don’t look hard and cut out.

Then I build everything around it.

Wild Flowers in Pickle Jar  April 2015 Watercolor on Arches 300 GSM - 15 in x 11 in - 38 cm x 28 cm

Wild Flowers in Pickle Jar April 2015 – Watercolor on Arches 300 GSM – 15 in x 11 in – 38 cm x 28 cm

 As I’m painting, I want to get it in one shot and  stop when the paper is covered.

Watercolor Process of Spanish Spring Flowers in Blue Glass Vase March 2015

The Watercolor Process of Spring Flowers.

First I measure the vase against the flowers to see how many times the vase fits into the flowers.

First I measure the vase against the flowers to see how many times the vase fits into the flowers.

Then I place the vase, flowers and background on the paper lightly in case I need to move something.

Then I place the vase, flowers and background on the paper lightly in case I need to move something.

Here's a close up.  I paint little pieces of what I see,  I try to do it in one shot by putting the shape and color down just once and not going into it again to keep the watercolor fresh and untortured.

Here’s a close up. I paint little pieces of what I see, I try to do it in one shot by putting the shape and color down just once and not going into it again to keep the watercolor fresh and untortured.  In this watercolor, I  put a grid on the paper to keep my parallel lines parallel.

I work around the paper, trying to place everything down in one shot, only painting in the white areas until the paper is filled in.

I work around the paper, trying to place everything down in one shot, only painting in the white areas until the paper is filled in.

I continue painting on the white of the paper until everything is filled in, respecting the whites though.

I continue painting on the white of the paper until everything is filled in, respecting the whites though.

Once the I've coverd all the white, then I go back in and work on any area that needs morte detail or contrast.

Once the I’ve covered all the white, then I go back in and work on any area that needs more detail or contrast.

 

 

#White Almond Blossoms in Crystal Vase 2015

Almond Blossoms in Crystal Vase 2015 The Watercolor Art Making Process

Almond Blossoms in Crystal Vase 2015

These blossoms don’t last a long time on the tree; in fact, they have already blown away.  I was only able to do two watercolors of these blossoms this year.  This is the second watercolor.  I did both of them on the same day.  They each took about 5 hours to paint.

#White Almond Blossoms in Crystal Vase

White Almond Blossoms in Crystal Vase 2015 – Watercolor on Arches 300 GSM – 11 in x 15 in – 28 cm x 38 cm

Here I started at the base to control the width of the vase and the outward spread of the blossoms.

Here I started at the base to control the width of the vase and the outward spread of the blossoms.

Then I started painting upwardly, putting everything in place lightly.

Then I started painting upwardly, putting everything in place lightly.

I'm still painting upwardly, finding a place where the blossoms are in space.  I'm also marking the branches at the same time.

I’m still painting upwardly, finding a place where the blossoms are in space. I’m also marking the branches at the same time.

#White Almond Blossoms in Crystal Vase 2015

I’m finishing up with the detail and putting in washes where I see shade.

#White Almond Blossoms in Crystal Vase 2015

I finished the painting, It is still taped down to the board.