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Featured Artist: Dustan Knight

How to Present Large Scale Watercolors Without Glass…A New and Innovative Technique

Dustan KNight in front of her artwork

I am a true believer in watercolor and I wanted to give my watercolors the size and presentation that would allow them to compete with works on canvas. However, when I considered the glass and framing costs for my large size paintings it was truly daunting. Ampersand Art Supply has helped me solve this dilemma by offering an acid-free cradled panel that I use as a support and frame for my watercolor paintings. Golden has a range of acrylic gel mediums and varnishes that allow me to finish the watercolors without the need for glass. The results have elevated my traditional watercolor paintings to a new level of intensity and accessibility.

Here are the steps I follow: (1) I use Ampersand’s Claybord Smooth because the surface is acid-free and will not affect my paper when mounted. This rigid smooth surface has a beautiful birch frame glued flush to the back edge of the panel. It gives my watercolors a whole new look! (2) I cut my watercolor paper a bit larger than the panel size. (3) I soak the paper just enough to give it a cloth like flexibility.(4) Next, I layer Golden soft gel medium on the Claybord panel as evenly as possible. (5) I then lay the wet watercolor paper on the gel coated Ampersand Cradled Smooth Claybord panel, working bubbles out gently.

Applying the gel medium

(6) As the paper begins to dry, I begin painting into it using wet into wet watercolor techniques.

Beginning to paint

(7) I let my piece dry completely (I usually wait a couple of days) before carefully laying Golden’s soft gel medium over the painting. I concentrate on lighter areas first and darker areas last, paying close attention to avoid smearing. I let it dry and repeat this step a couple of times. (8) I then trim the edges of the paper and decide whether I wish to paint or stain the edges of the cradle frame or leave them in their natural birch color.(9) As a finishing step, I varnish the piece with Golden’s UV resistant medium.

The finished piece


This page is dedicated to artist Dustan Knight. Her incredible technique for mounting watercolor paper on the Ampersand Deep Cradle is described below. This is an innovative and creative approach for taking watercolor to a whole new level.

Dustan Knight has an MFA from Pratt Institute and an MA from Boston University in Art History. She is a working artist, winning awards and exhibiting throughout New England. She also offers workshops, writes regional reviews for Art New England and teaches as an adjunct professor at several local art colleges. Please visit her web site www.dustanknight.com to see a monthly updated selection of her current artwork.