I know this has probably been discussed many times before, but I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what to do. I just purchased a bunch of aquabord to paint with watercolors, and I need a good recommendation of what kind of varnish and fixative to get. There are many old posts about this on the web, but I can't seem to find anything recent with exact recommendations. I don't know anything about varnishes, and I really just need a direct link to something I can by.
Darby may have a valid question here. I've been working with alternative surfaces such as Aquaboard, watercolor board, and watercolor ground. These are three distinctly different products. Watercolor board has been around for many years, and, yes, is a sheet of lightweight watercolor paper glued to a support. Aquaboard is actually a clay surface with a bit of tooth applied to high density tempered masonite. Watercolor ground can be painted on the surface of your choice, and has a surface tooth similar to Aquaboard, made by Ampersand, and another watermedia clayboard with similar characteristics made by Richeson.
The clayboard products, and the absorbent ground both suffer from extremely delicate surfaces. You won't be applying multiple light glazes on them, and the moisture in your skin is enough to lift dried washed back off. A very dry technique seems to be best for both.You can lift dried washes back off almost back to pure white, depending on the pigment's staining properties.
On the other hand, watercolor board is a bit more forgiving, since it handles more like standard paper.
Oops, just realized I didn't replay to the original question posed by Darby.
That delicate surface is like pastel, possibly worse. I use either Kamar Varnish spray, or UV spray to protect the surface when I'm satisfied.
I agreed with Paul.
The best ting is to leave it as it is and protected in a frame with glass is best. Whatever varnish you decide to use will seal the painted side and the other one will be open to the elements (moisture, dam, bacteria and fungus and ext.) And then sooner or later will be problems and it is much more difficult to restore the watercolour with played varnish.
caricatures from photo