Thursday, November 13, 2008

More on Glassless Framing

Well, I apologize for being a little slack posting here but I've been trying to find more information on framing pastels without glass. It's become rather an obsession in a way, but I just know in my innermost being that it can be done.

One of the questions I get from other pastel artists is "should it be done?" "Why cover pastel with a protective finish?" "Why isn't glass good enough any more?" "What about tradition?"

First, let me say that I love the look of a traditional pastel. It's one of the reasons I took up pastel in the first place.

However I don't like that pastel is so delicate nor the fact that great care has to be taken to frame and protect it. It doesn't ship well, especially to countries overseas. If there's a way to overcome these negative points of pastel and still retain the beauty of it, I'd really like to know about it.

As for tradition, well - what good is a traditional pastel if it accidentally gets bumped and all the pastel falls off? Doesn't using fixative to prevent this falling off make the painting less traditional anyway? Glassless framing basically just increases the amount of fixative so that the pastel dust is completely covered.

There's lots to explore here. I paint pet portraits mainly. I doubt very seriously if I'll ever be hailed as the next Rembrandt or anything close for that matter. The average person who commissions a pet portrait from me has a lot going on in their homes. If you've ever seen a cat high on cat nip, then you might be able to see the wisdom of a pastel painting with a glassless finish!

But, I'm getting off track here. My original purpose for this post was to publicly thank all the artists who have responded to my requests for information on this subject or who have piqued my curiosity to begin with. The generosity of artists in general never ceases to amaze me.

Nicole Caulfield got the wheels turning for me when she posted about the glassless framing of colored pencil at an art forum I belong to. Of course there's a difference in pastel and colored pencil but she had some of the same issues as I've experienced - namely color shifts/darkening of the pigment and the pigment just melting away. Her posts sent me in search of other pastel artists who may have been experimenting with this process to see if glassless framing could actually work with pastel.

Gary Ruuska, a contemporary of Nicole Caulfield, and an exquisitely talented colored pencil artist himself, was the first to respond to an email from me asking about his method of sealing and varnishing colored pencil. He began with Nicole's method but eventually developed a method of his own that didn't use the smelly aerosol sprays.

I found Sandra K. Jackoboice, a pastel artist, by searching for glassless framing of pastels. She was generous enough that her process was posted on her website for download. It was her article that gave me real hope that glassless pastel framing could actually work.

Bob Palmerton is the latest artist to respond to my request for more information on his process. Because his method is specific to pastels, his very generous reply was very helpful.

William Ross with the Pastel Society of the Ozarks also responded to an email from me with information.

I just want to thank all of them for the help they've given me. Thank you all!


Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Jan,

I am reading with great interest your journey into the world of framing without glass. I have some coloured pencil pieces on Pastelbord which I will be framing this winter. I have been concerned about colour changes with fixative. I have read where Nicole Caulfield recommends Lascaux. Sounds like it turned your work darker than you liked. Applying the fixative with an air brush method seems a bit overwhelming.
If I discover the magic product or method, I will be sure to pass the info along!
Good luck!!

Jan said...

Hi back at you, Teresa! So glad you've stopped in here for a visit.

You may be interested to know that I've been experimenting with a combination of the methods I've learned for the glassless framing for the past few days. While I think I've made some progress, I'm also thinking it may be more trouble than it's worth for pastel. I've framed one colored pencil painting on Pastelbord using Nicole's method and would whole-heartedly recommend glassless framing for cp, but I'm not so sure about pastel at this point.

I want to continue my experiments for the rest of the weekend then I'll post on my results.

Thanks for your well wishes!