Ahh, summer. With the exception of our overheated afternoons, we're spending lots of time outdoors, working, relaxing and entertaining. It's fun to decorate our outdoor living spaces, and why not include paintings? When protected from the elements, a painting can make a great statement outdoors.
It wouldn't make much sense to hang a highly valued art piece outside, even in dry Southern Oregon summers. Look in second-hand, craft and decorating shops for affordable, attractive canvases that won't be devalued by a coat of protective varnish.
Varnish with UV/light protection, flat brush, protective gloves, canvas, frame, water, bowl, rags and paper towels.
Follow directions on varnish to prepare. Our brand was diluted with water and required skin protection to prevent possible allergic reactions.
Coat a clean, dry canvas with the varnish thoroughly, stroking in one direction. "Brush out any pools of varnish, so it is covered evenly," advises Swift.
Put a coat on one side of your frame. Dry both flat. Our acrylic-based varnish dried very quickly.
Give the painting a second coat, painting at right angles to the first layer.
Flip your painting over and coat the back side. Ditto with the frame. Again, dry flat.
When it's dry, mount the painting in the frame and it's ready to hang.
We chose a couple of second-hand floral paintings and prepared them for outdoor hanging with Golden's Polymer Varnish with UVLS. The ultra-violet light protection is a necessity.
"It keeps light from fading the painting, especially the reds and blues," says Sheryl Swift, sales associate at Central Art Supply.
Swift advises brushing the varnish vertically and horizontally across the canvas to get the best coverage. Let the canvas dry between coats. A coat of varnish on the backside of the canvas will help prevent mold, especially if the painting will be up all year. It's also helpful on the frame.
"Put it on the frame to prevent moisture from being absorbed, swelling the frame and spreading the joints," says Swift.
The first consideration in hanging your art is exposure, says Martha Thye, owner of M T's U-Frame-It in Medford. "Even though it's protected, exposure to harsh elements is something to be avoided at all cost." Patios and porches are ideal spots.
The aesthetic issues you consider in hanging interior artwork apply outdoors as well. Consider the size of the space you will hang art and any other elements like windows and sometimes doors, she says. The main piece should be placed at eye level in the center of the space. Work from the center out and stay with odd numbers, according to Thye. If the wall has two windows, you may want to use one, three or five elements depending on space. "If you have French doors in the center of a wall, you could put three pieces on one side and two on the other," she says. "Every wall is different."
And we are glad about that.