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Mounting a watercolor painting on a cradled panel board, a step by step tutorial on ARTiful painting demos by Sandrine Pelissier

Mounting a watercolor painting on a cradled panel board, a step by step tutorial

I usually like to mount paper on board before I start painting as this allows me to stretch it in the process of mounting it.

Lily pads on One Mile Lake

Lily Pads on One Mile Lake has been painted on paper that had been previously mounted on board. Click here to  see pictures of that technique: Mounting watercolor paper on board.

This time I had a few already painted watercolors on paper that I thought would look good once mounted on board and varnished. Here are the steps I took:

cutting the watercolor painting to the right size

The first step is to find a board that is the same size of the painting. For some of the watercolors I had to order some custom sized boards as they were not fitting into the standard sizes or I would have had to cut too much of the painting to make it fit. Now I am going to give more though to the size of what I paint before to make sure it will fit standard sizes.

Then I did trim the sides of the painting to make it easier to place on the board for the next steps.

adding a layer of heavy body gel medium

 I am spreading heavy body gel medium with a stiff brush all over the board, paying specific attention to the sides and the corners of the board.


heavy body gel medium

Heavy body gel medium is better than the liquid kind because the paper won’t get too wet and that reduces the risks of the paper buckling.

painting on top of board

I am then centering the painting on the board being very careful that no medium goes on top of the painting.

removing bubbles

Then I am using a brayer roll to evenly fix the paper to the board and to remove potential air bubbles. I am also being very careful that the brayer stays clean and that no medium goes on top of the painting.


dry overnight

I am leaving the painting to dry overnight. I added some weight in each corner to make sure they won’t lift while drying. ( In case you are wondering the paper weights are big river rocks that I did cover with crochet)

extra paper on the sides

The next day everything has dried, now I need to trim the excess paper on the sides.

cutter to trim excess paper

I am using a cutter to do so.

sand the sides

If the sides are not straight enough after trimming, I sometimes use a sander to finish them. Next step will be fixing the watercolor and varnishing it. I will detail that process in another post.


{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Lisa Gibson November 24, 2015, 11:00 am

    Does the heavy gel medium seal the wood from leaching through to the painting like a primer would do? Also, why do you put the gel on the sides as well? I don’t see any brush marks on the sides in your close-up shots – do they fade away from drying? Thank you for your time and I LOVE your work! 🙂

    • Sandrine Pelissier November 24, 2015, 11:04 am

      Thanks Lisa. Yes the heavy gel medium acts as a sealant to prevent acid from the wood to damage the acid free paper. I don’t apply the gel on the sides of the board because they won’t be in direct contact with the paper. I apply the finish (wax or varnish) on the sides when I am applying it on the paper.

  • Weilih February 11, 2015, 8:52 am

    Love your work. Where do you get your cradled panel board? Thanks.

  • Tracie February 24, 2014, 12:29 pm

    Hi Sandrine, What kind of heavy body gel are you using? I have some KROMA medium viscosity matte finish Medium. If I give it a little air time before applying my map paper (which is very thin), do you think this will be the best route to prevent buckling?Any other technique ideas? Thanks Tracie

  • Linda Millard February 5, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Absolutely beautiful work Sandrine. Did you get to do your tutorial yet on
    how to vanish? Thank you for sharing your passion, skill and talent, look forward to your advice before I launch into the process! Linda from Oz

    • Sandrine Pelissier February 5, 2014, 4:52 pm

      Thanks Linda 🙂
      I just finished writing the tutorial on how to apply the wax finish and this one will be published on February 17, and am in the process of writing the one on varnish finish. If you subscribe to my mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/kAKE5, you will be notified each time a new post get published.

  • dsaquarelles January 22, 2014, 12:02 pm

    très intéressant. Bonne idée d’utiliser heavy body gel medium. Merci de partager.

  • Liz Thoresen January 22, 2014, 10:46 am

    Thank you for sharing! Looking forward to the post on varnishing.

  • Sharon January 21, 2014, 11:33 am

    Hi, just wondering, do you put anything on the painting to protect it?

    • Sandrine Pelissier January 21, 2014, 12:08 pm

      Hello Sharon, in that case I did varnish the paintings after they were mounted and dried.

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