Beer & Pretzels
16 x 20 in.
Watercolor on paper
Available through the artist
My most recent painting, Beer & Pretzels, was a special new product test and I'm happy to share some exciting news!
I've been working with RayMar Art, Inc. on a new product for watercolor artists: an archival, lightweight watercolor panel. They have combined the Fabriano paper I normally use with an ACM panel (aluminum composite material) and the results have been great!
Those who have been to my workshops know I've been making my own panels, mounting paper to aluminum, for a few years now. It's been successful, but it's laborious and time consuming, especially for large work. Being able to purchase pre-made panels would allow me to spend more time doing what I love to do — paint!
RayMar's interest in exploring this possibility has been refreshing. Every product they make has been in response to artists’ needs. Their customer base is oil and acrylic painters, but I think watercolorists might really enjoy trying this product, and I'll tell you why.
Normally I paint on 300 lb. paper, and the primary reason for this is because I don't want to waste time stretching lighter weight paper. I'd rather be painting! Still, even heavy paper will buckle a little. None of this happens on the panel. It's effectively pre-stretched and always remains flat wash after wash. Even when completely submerged there’s no deformation.
RayMar panels are archival. This one uses Fabriano Artistico Extra White, which is 100% cotton, mould-made paper, free of acid and chlorine. Fabriano paper has been made since 1264 and was the choice of Michaelangelo. So yeah. It’s good paper.
I’ve found it to always be properly sized — I’m looking at you Arches — and without issue. The paper used for the panels comes off a roll, so there is no watermark to speak of, which is another plus.
The aluminum composite material (ACM) is comprised of two sheets of aluminum with a polyethylene core to create a rigid panel that is unaffected by temperature or humidity. (More on why I like aluminum here.) The panel is only 2 millimeters think.
It’s also very lightweight, which makes it affordable to ship and easy to carry in the field.
What are the drawbacks to a watercolor panel? I noticed a slightly longer drying time, due to only one side of the paper being exposed to air. Not a big deal for my process, but worth noting. And it’s more expensive than a sheet of paper.
There’s also the problem of exhibitions. Many watercolor societies require watercolors to be displayed with a mat. While not impossible, it would be more challenging. I prefer to use spacers to keep the glass from touching the surface instead of a mat, as shown on the right.
When I finished Beer & Pretzels, the first thing I did was pop it into a frame. 16 x 20 inches is a standard size and I had a frame on hand. It’s fast and easy to use museum glass with spacers, or varnish and display with out glass. Alternatively, they could be used with a floater frame. Either way, I don’t have to cut a mat. (Read more about my varnishing techniques here.)
These panels, with various paper surfaces, should be available soon. RayMar sells through their website, as well as other venders, so keep an eye out for this exciting new product.
Let me know what you think! I’m sure there are things I haven’t thought to address, so let me know what questions you have.