How can I describe the experience of mounting art painted on xuan paper? With many adjectives – difficult, time consuming, technical, tense (constantly alert that every step, every second may go wrong), stressful (when the thin fragile paper rips or wrinkles and there goes hours of dedicated work down the drain), back aching, exhausting (even though I was standing still most of the time). This is certainly not a peaceful and calming part of chinese brush painting…not for me! If you were a fly on the wall, you would occasionally hear a few expletives, groans and moans…amidst the soothing music of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Simon & Garfunkel and the like to keep me relaxed. I am spending these few days mounting my art for the Original Art Sale (14-16 October, Vodafone Event Centre, Manukau)) and they are due for submission next week.

I should perhaps explain the term “mounting” which is totally different when used in the world of chinese painting. Mounting is to glue a piece of backing paper – usually xuan paper – to the piece of completed art. This process seals the paint, sizes, stretches and strengthens the paper and acts as a preservative. It takes away the wrinkles/creases and makes the colours “pop”. After mounting, the painting is ready for framing. The mounting process cannot be skipped unfortunately. I have been looking into alternative and easier ways of far unsuccessfully. But that’s another blog.

Here are a few photos of what I did. I’ve simplified the process very much in my comments. If you’re interested to watch a complete mounting process with the full explanation, there are great youtube videos online. I’m happy to send you a link – just ask. 

This is the first piece I tested on…naturally a small A4 size. When I started on the exhibition pieces, which are A2 (594 x 420mm), the difficulty and problems magnified greatly along with the angst especially when I have to lift the whole wet painting to stick to the backing board (bigger = heavier = more fragile = more fiddly = tears & tears). I can’t imagine how I am going to do it if I ever get the crazy idea in my head to paint a much larger piece!