≡ Menu
A few ideas to finish and display your mixed media paintings

How to finish and display your paintings on paper : A few options

If you are working on paper, you have a few option to display your paintings on paper, from traditional framing to mounting your paper on board, as well as a few options to protect the paper if you display it unframed. Here are some of the main choices listed.

You might also like: How to make your own lightbox for tracing on watercolor paper

Framing or not framing: How to display your paintings on paper

You can frame your painting under glass or Plexiglas

I recommend using a simple frame and a white or off white mat. If you apply to renting programs, your work will have a better chance to be selected if the mat is white or at least of a neutral color. Plexiglas is safer and sometimes mandatory if you ship your painting.

It is a good idea to always paint the same size as you can switch and reuse your framing depending on your needs. This is a good solution especially if you are selling your paintings online with the option of buying them framed or unframed. You can then store your unframed paintings in a drawer, so it takes way less space.

you can frame under glass to display your paintings on paper

I painted a series of watercolor that are all the same size so I can switch the framing if needed. They are sold framed or unframed on my website.

You can display your paintings on paper by mounting your painting on board

Read more about mounting your paintings on board here

I like the simple look of paintings on paper mounted on board, it works very well with thick watercolor paper or yupo paper.

Mounting your paper on board is an excellent option if you wish to display your work on paper unframed

Mounting your paper on board is an excellent option if you wish to display your work on paper unframed.

You could also try to hang your paintings on scroll, or display them with magnets holding them to a pin on a wall. The disadvantage of this technique is that your paper will be unprotected and it might make buyers a bit nervous, although I must say it looks very good.

Applying a layer of varnish or wax to make the paper water-resistant to display your paintings on paper without a frame

If you paper is unframed, you can choose to apply a layer of protection from water and humidity. I sometimes use varnish and sometimes use wax for that purpose.


apply a dorland wax finish to your paintings on paper

Read more here on applying a wax finish to a watercolor painting.

Wax is more pleasant to use as it natural and doesn’t have a strong smell, but I use it mainly on watercolor or acrylic paintings as you have to apply it with a soft fabric or tissue. I would not use it on mixed media pieces with pastel for example. Varnish as the advantage of providing some measure of UV protection that the wax will not provide.

Before applying a layer of finish, I recommend you spray your painting with Krylon workable fixative, it will fix all dry media (like graphite or pastel) and avoid any smudging of watercolor paint, markers…

spray krylon fixative before varnishing

Spraying your work with Krylon workable fixative will make it possible to apply varnish on top of graphite. This is what I did on this example: Slice of Life- part I (Acrylic and mixed media on canvas).


If you choose to brush a layer of varnish as a finish, you also have the option of spraying a first layer and let it dry before brushing subsequent layers. Be careful, varnish applied to a paper support cannot be removed. You might want to try it on a small area of the painting before varnishing the whole surface.


A few tips before applying varnish:


varnishing your paintings on paper

Applying varnish on a few mixed media paintings, they are done on yupo paper mounted on board.

  • Make sure your brush is very clean, a brush that is left in the open will accumulate a surprising amount of dust and little fibers that will show on your painting. You can store your varnishing brushes in  a sealed container to avoid that.
  • Apply varnish on the painting in an horizontal position, like laying on a table or on the floor so you can avoid any drips
  • Apply varnish in a well ventilated area as it can smell pretty strong.
  • Read the instruction to know if you should dilute the varnish with water or not and if you should clean it with water or with paint thinner.
  • Check if your varnish is suitable for your medium. In mixed media it sometimes happens that we mix water based media with oil based media. In that case you need to use a varnish that is suitable for both, I am using Liquitex Soluvar or Gamvar varnish.

What is your favorite way of displaying your works on paper?




How to finish and display your paintings on paper : A few options
5 (100%) 1 vote