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How to apply a wax finish to your watercolors

How to apply Dorland’s wax medium on watercolor

Applying Dorland’s wax medium on watercolor has many advantages, it will protect the paper from humidity and is easy and fast to apply, it also has a nice odor that is way less strong than varnish.

I recently did paint those green Chrysanthemums with watercolors and mixed media on paper and did mount the painting on a cradled panel.

You might also like: Mounting a watercolor painting on a cradled panel board, a step by step tutorial

painting finished with dorland's wax medium on watercolor

Green Mums 2, Watercolor and mixed media on paper
Available, click here to buy


Here is how to apply Dorland’s wax medium on watercolor


You will  need:

  • An already painted and dry watercolor painting  mounted on board
  • Krylon workable fixative
  • Dorland’s wax medium
  • A soft cloth


mounting watercolor on board

Here the watercolor painting had been mounted on board, you need to trim the extra paper on the sides before applying the finish.

cutter to trim excess paper

Using a cutter that you hold parallel to the sides of the panel is the most convenient way to trim the excess paper on the sides.

watercolor mounted on board

The sides are now neat. Depending on the media you used on your paper you might want to spray a bit of working fixative before applying the wax. I like to use Krylon workable fixative for that.

In the case of this painting, the blue flowers designs in the background were drawn with colored pencil, rubbing wax on top of colored pencil would displace some of the pencil pigments and blur a bit the designs. Even if your painting is only watercolor, I recommend you spray a bit of fixative to make sure none of the watercolor pigment is disrupted by the dorland’s wax medium.

dorland's wax medium on watercolor

I am using Dorland wax medium that I will apply with a blue shop towel. You can buy those at home hardware stores, they have the advantage of not leaving any residue. A soft cloth would work as well.

applying the dorland's wax medium on watercolor

Next you can apply the wax, using circular motions, like you would do when applying wax on a piece of furniture.

applying dorland's wax medium on the sides of the painting

If your painting is mounted on wood, you can also apply the wax to the sides of the panel as well.

dorland's wax medium on watercolor

Looking at the looking at the surface of the painting held horizontally against the day light is a good way to check if you missed any area.

You can then leave the painting to dry for a few days and buff it with a soft cloth to make the finish more shiny.

Have you tried applying a finish to your watercolors instead of framing them?

How to apply Dorland’s wax medium on watercolor
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