Artists are some of the most giving and sharing people I know! I've been almost fixated (pun intended) on glassless framing and have been in touch with many artists who were willing to share their methods and offer help and comments to me. Out of all the artists I contacted, only one didn't respond to my email and she may not have received it.
A couple of days ago I received an email from Jana at It's a Phine Life blogspot. She was very gracious and had answered my initial inquiry about glassless framing and we've emailed back and forth about it a few times.
Her last email included a close up of a pastel that she's working on and also a link to a watercolor that she painted on AquaBord and finished in a glassless manner. Little lightbulbs started going off in my head as I realized that the acrylic varnish I have been using is probably what is causing my dissatisfaction with my glassless framing results.
Her results were much different than what I've achieved and her methods for framing without glass are also different. For her pastels, she uses PVA for the sealing and sprays as she works. This results in little loss of the texture of the pastel. She also works on canvas although I haven't determined if that is a factor since PastelBord is also textured and she prepares her canvases to be wet-sanded fairly smooth so the normal canvas texture is changed. The final difference is that she uses soft pastels instead of pastel pencils.
As I studied her results then looked at mine, I saw that my varnished paintings looked like those acyrlic resin poured objects so popular in the late '70s and early '80s. You can't tell the difference between the mediums in my paintings but if you're using an acrylic product as thickly as I am, the result is bound to end up looking like an acrylic!
While I would like to have the UV protection of the Golden medium/varnish that I'm using, I really prefer the look of the pastels sealed with the PVA. It may be that I can achieve that look using a thinner application of the Golden varnish plus more build up of the pastel. I don't know, I just know that more experimenting is in order!
Thanks so much, Jana!