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How to Display an Abstract Painting on Paper

In my expressive abstract painting classes, students explore principles of Value, Color, Composition, Shape and more. They use a heavy mixed media paper rather than canvas. If it is the first time they are using paper, they are usually pleasantly surprised by how versatile and wonderful paper can be as a painting substrate.

I like working on paper for several reasons:
– It is practical for storing
– You can find compositions and new paintings in the paper and cut them out
– There is less pressure to have finished pieces, therefore you are more open to being expressive and to explore. Paradoxically, many discover their best work is when they are just practicing and exploring.

There are many types of paper you can paint on. Essentially, you want a paper that is heavy enough to withstand the acrylic paint and water without buckling or seeping through the paper. My favorite is Strathmore’s Mixed Media paper. It is a nice smooth surface, archival and at 184lbs it is strong enough to withhold a lot of paint and mixed media.

Once you have finished your painting and possibly cut it down to a particular size/composition you like, you have a couple of choices. Of course, you can always bring it to a framer where the options are endless and can be customized to your tastes. Or, you can find a frame that suits you and DIY.

Another alternative is to adhere your finished piece to cradled wood panel. My favorite wood panels are Blick’s student or premier cradled panels. I like this option because the work is presented cleanly without having glass to interfere with the direct observation and experience with the work. I think it is a great option for displaying abstract, modern art. Because it is cradled, you then only have to wire and hang it!

Here is a video of how I find my compositions, adhere my piece to panel and how I finish it with GOLDEN paint’s archival varnish spray.

I pre-treat the panels with GOLDEN paint’s gloss medium and I adhere the paper to the panel with GOLDEN paint’s semi-gloss gel medium.

If you are interested in learning more about my expressive abstract painting process and the classes I offer, see my current workshops.

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