Displaying Drawings the Easy and Inexpensive Way

Nearly two years ago I did three little drawings of cats.  This one is the largest and, if I remember correctly, it’s 5″ by 6″.  They’ve been kicking around my studio ever since.  I was hesitant to frame them because the frame, glass, and mat are either a pain to do myself or expensive to buy.  So I came up with a new way the display drawings that I’m very pleased with.  I especially like it for small drawings, but it would work for larger ones also – you’d just have a hard time displaying them in an easel like this one.
My first step was to cut the board for the backing.  To size the board, I added a 2″ margin all around the drawing.  So this board was 9″ by 10″.  I cut it from 1/4″ thick hardboard (I’m lucky enough to have the woodworking equipment to do it) and applied spray primer (from the home improvement store) on both sides and the edges.  Next I painted the board.  The black is plain Burnt Umber.  The front is more complicated as I built up color and texture with several layers and a variety of techniques.  I was looking for a finish that would be visually interesting but wouldn’t compete too much with the drawing.  The light streak that shows down the right side is a bit of iridescent silver that I applied all around the edges with my fingertip and then “pushed back” with a wash of Burnt Umber.
By the way, you may notice that the car’s eyes look very slightly green.  That’s because I added the lightest possible coat of green colored pencil to the eyes.  The rest of the drawing is graphite.
I protected the drawing with a good coat of spray workable fixative. then tore the edges for the look I wanted (helps to draw on a bigger piece of paper than you think you need!).  To adhere the drawing to the board, I dampened the drawing, applied a coat of acrylic matt gel medium to the board, and pressed the drawing in place, rolling out any air bubbles.  When all was dry, I applied a few coats of acrylic varnish.
Now I have a piece of art that I can either hang on the wall or display on a tabletop easel, and the “framing” was not expensive or difficult!


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