Thanks for your replies will. Use a quick, but light up and down dabbing motion, and pay close attention that you don’t miss any spots. Hi Scott, yes, I’d go with the different Gamvar finishes to give you the difference in matte or gloss. I would like to send you my picture and get a opinion. Hi Leah, on dear, sorry to hear about your results with the varnishing, did the matte finish help at all? Gamblin notes, “How do you tell if a painting is ready to varnish? I see the paints touch dry in a couple of days. What type of cloth can I drape over the painting? Thanks, WIll! Have you inspected the spot closely to see if there is something there, like an oil or grease spot? Even though Gamsol is a very gentle solvent, rubbing too hard can and will remove paint. hHi, i just applied a mastic varnish to my oil painting and it left some very cloudy spots. They are a lovely Golden colour and as such, give a rich glossy and enamel-like appearance. Thankyou so much, it’s so helpful! When using a spray varnish if you work in several layers, you can judge the sheen and increase the gloss level the more coats you apply. 6. The whole surface is covered in oil paints. Cheers, Will. :). I think I missed something. Thanks in advance so much. Alternatively, with large canvass I will prop them facing a wall when the varnish is semi-dry. Once in a while I come across a product that makes life in the studio so much easier that I feel compelled to share it with readers. However the finish came out too glossy with some remaining dull spots and a lot of distracting reflections off the texture & impasto. If it is firm underneath the surface of the painting then it is ready for varnishing [with Gamvar].”. Thanks Scorpion, hope you’re enjoying the lessons. However, they are susceptible to cracking, extensive yellowing and become increasingly difficult to remove from painting over time. I usually apply Dammar varnish to smaller paintings as it can go very tacky, very quickly and is harder to control with a brush. There’s naturally a bit more gloss to the liquin, so I’d like to use that for the bars and lines, and the neo for the grey. And what DO I use as a final varnish if I use Liquin or other alkyd mediums, gel or liquid? I’ve just finished what is only my second ever oil painting, the first some time ago at 2ndry school where things like varnishing weren’t left to us… I was just wondering, there are a few small areas on my canvas where I’ve actually left the canvas blank (it’s peeking through the paint to give the effect of reflection on the water and is very much part of the composition). Gamvar Picture Varnish saturates and gives greater depth to the colors in your painting and gives your work a unified and protective satin surface. All Gamvar can be applied when the thickest areas of your painting are thoroughly dry and firm to the touch. Hi Melva, so pleased you’ve been finding the articles helpful in your paintings. Also, please could you tell me: does using an oiling-out technique do essentially the same thing as using retouching varnish? Have you heard of artists using things like polyacrylic over oils? I am nearing completion of my first oil painting, but it has a patchy look and I think I need to oil it out. Do you have to Varnish an Oil Painting? Here is some more information on the different Sennelier Varnishes, it does mention on it is a quick-drying varnish so that might have been the issue, I couldn’t find anything specific on ratios for diluting with turpentine but usually, it’s about 20%. The more coats that are applied the richer and deeper the colours will be. As a true varnish the Gamvar provides a stronger layer of protection than the cold wax alone. Really helpful for both professionals and beginners. Thanks, Jackie, Hi Jackie, I’m not sure about using Gamvar over an existing varnish, you could try Gamblin technical support that would know for sure. Just one more question if you don’t mind…. 2. It seems to me now that it is not so much what is put onto the painting as preparation, but that it is applied with a piece of cloth that is massaged into the surface. Developed in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, Gamvar Satin is practically odorless, goes on and remains water … Hope this helps. Why? Personally, I'd be very careful about this. I’m about to deliver a painting to a buyer. Will. There is no need to wait 6-12 months before varnishing with Gamblin Gamvar. I suppose as a finished painting it is just a matter of letting the medium dry properly to touch say one or two weeks before final varnish. Is there anything I can do to thin out the applied varnish? I want to oil out some paintings to even the surface, but as most mediums seem to contain turpentine I am concerned that the turpentine in the medium will break down the paint when I apply it to the painting. Since it only takes a minimal amount of varnish to cover a painting, I don't have to worry about drips or runs, etc., which means I can let it dry vertically instead of laying flat and collecting unwanted dust and dirt on the surface as it dries. Thanks a million for that advice Will. The range of varnishes you told us about is wonderful. Ann, Hi Ann, yes, you can overspray with a matte or satin varnish, just make sure you really shake the can. Change the surface finish to gloss or matte, Provide a more unified finish to the various areas of a painting, I respect your privacy and take protecting it very seriously -. Hi Louise, nice to hear from you, you can see a couple of example of oiling out in the videos in the article, for oiling out just with linseed oil use the pure oil in a super thin layer. Sign up now to get the latest posts, news about products & art inspiration, straight to your inbox, Starter Set Challenge – Painting Street Scenes with Acrylics, How to Loosen up your Acrylic Paintings – Impressionistic Apples Tutorial, Acrylic Painting Tutorial – Fishing Boats in St Ives Harbour, New! Now I just recently bought a lot of artist materials at a yard sale but they are all “German” products and old. Hi Will, I have an unfinished oil painting that has been sitting for a few months and now I am ready to work on it again. Once the oil paint is dry enough then you can apply the varnish directly to the painting surface. Traditional oil paints dry by oxidization, when the oil reacts with oxygen in the air. I was wondering if there is matte or lessy glossy retouch varnish out there I could apply, which allows the paint to continue to cure over the next year or two. Yes, if the painting isn’t too impasto you can use a damp, lint-free cloth. Cheers, Will. I’ll be using Gamvar. The advantage of using the Dammar varnish in the final glaze helps to make the medium leaner than if we just used Linseed Oil. Gamblin says that the cold wax medium does meet one important requirement of a varnish: it is removable. I rarely use oils, but when I do, I’ve often had to forgo the varnishing process because of time constraints. It really brought out the colors…but is very glossy. Thank you. What would you say? Oiling-out reduces the absorbency of dull paint layers, unifies the painting’s appearance and allows Gamvar to cover more evenly. https://gamblincolors.com/oil-painting/gamvar-picture-varnish I personally wouldn’t use an acrylic based topcoat over any oil paintings, fast drying or traditional. and probably should have oiled out first and thinned the varnish. On an acrylic painting, this differs as the isolation coat. Cheers, Will. 3 thin coats are better than 1 thick one. Some recent varnishes also have the great advantage of being able to be applied when the painting is just touch dry – rather than waiting for the painting to be fully cured. Hi Kathy, yes, the varnish would change the surface appearance of the canvas and is harder to control when leaving blank areas due to the viscosity of the varnish (many varnishes have a self-levelling quality to them) what I would do is experiment on a test piece first to see how the varnish aesthetic looks before committing to your finished piece. Cheers, Will, I don’t leave comments on articles like these normally, but I feel deeply compelled to extend a HUGE thank you to you for compiling such a wise and extensive fact-based article on something that is critical for a professional closure to my oil paintings before they are handed off to my collectors. Very helpful information! Satin: Synthetic resin based final varnish. Really appreciate the effort you put into your site. This allows artists to varnish their work after only a few weeks, whoo hoo!! Thank you very much for the information Will. There are different considerations to think about when you’re working with Oils in comparison to Acrylics, so here are some common questions to check before getting out the varnish brush…. Brandon, Hi Brandon, the Winsor & Newton high gloss does give a great high gloss finish, you’d be hard pushed to achieve a more glossy effect. For future reference, the “oiling out” technique does a great job of unifying the surface and absorbency of a painting prior to varnishing. What to do when varnish beads up. Is there a better way to seal an oil painting after it is dry to the touch that will last? Is there hope? Needless to say, varnishing won’t protect the painting from mechanical damage. Hi, How to Glaze an Oil Portrait Course – New Course! Thanks for all the tips. You can try a sample piece, just apply a matte coat and then a satin coat onto a test swatch and see if its the aesthetic you’re after. Susan, Good one Susan, pleased you found it helpful. Having watched them again I’ll go for the Winsor and Newton medium as it’s more readily available. I’m not sure if it will clear up as it dries or if I need to remove it, which makes me nervous. Thanks for latest email – packed with useful information as usual. Ughh! www.coldwaxpainting.com is a great resource on Cold Wax Medium techniques. I didn’t even know how to draw. Remedy: Make sure that the surface is perfectly clean and dry when you put the varnish on. The painting must be touch dry and then you can apply the oil with a clean, lint-free rag or paint on with a soft brush and then remove most of it with a rag. Drying rates tend to average out as colours are almost always mixed on the palette, so the drying times tend to equalise to a great degree. Or worse, if there is smoke damage or the painting were accidentally splattered with a foreign substance, the varnish is what would be affected, not the paint itself. Remember, rub VERY gently! If your painting is dry to the touch, you may use it. Hi Will. The cotton balls actually weren't the best idea. Fast drying oils are essentially standard oils mixed with Liquin. Wipe off the excess painting medium with a soft, lint-free cloth. I’m in Florida so if it’s humid my paintings take longer to dry. How soon can you varnish a painting? I noticed when I varnished two paintings, one a plain oil painting, and another an acrylic painting with a gel isolation coat, and I used Gamvar varnish on both paintings, the oil painting had a lot of dust stick to it, but the acrylic painting with the isolation coat came out dust free and smooth in the same setting, time and place that they both received gamvar. As the case with all varnishes, however, they are best used as fresh as possible. Cheers, Carol. After varnishing. Hope this helps. Pro-tip: If the difference in sheens is very minimal then you don’t have to oil out, you can go straight on with the final picture varnish. Some of the liveliness has been flattened by the varnish. You need to work quickly but gently – Apply in long even strokes to cover the surface top to bottom while moving from one side to the other. He writes, “Spots left on the varnish layer can be caused by a number of factors — most likely that dust may have settled on the varnish layer as it was drying.” Also be sure that you apply the varnish VERY thinly. Cleaned it carefully with cotton balls using my own saliva, a bit gross but really does the trick. sandrab.fineartstudioonline.com/blog/13150/how-to-varnish-using-gamvar It brings out the best of your colors. It hung on a wall for 3 years unvarnished. 3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t) 2. The painting will survive, it’s just really shiny:(. I have just read your information on varnishing oil paintings. Hi Gail, having an oil out layer will help to even the sheen before applying a matte varnish. Two days to ship, one day or less to dry to touch. I suspect that the Liquin cannot be removed, and that you will have to simply varnish over it. Hi Jan, yes a very subtle coat of Gamvar applies with a rag would work and dry off very quickly for the second layer. This is so helpful, thank you. Mitchell teaches painting workshops in the Pacific Northwest at Winslow Art Center, Pacific Northwest Art School, Dakota Art, Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials and, from 1997 t0 2018, Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, He has led painting adventures in Italy and has lectured on Impressionism and landscape painting at the Seattle Art Museum and written for International Artist and Artists & Illustrators magazines. A clear coat on the first application that stays clear over time, therefore non-yellowing and more flexible. I then varnished them and they came out fine. I test my varnish by … Use a wide 2″ to 3″ natural bristle brush for varnishing. Thank you! Could i still go ahead and use the Winsor and Newton’s varnish for ‘oils’? It’s often a case of applying more layers than you think, i know of some realist painters that apply up to 20 coats of varnish so the painting appears like you’re looking through glass to the painting. Is this a bad idea? Because it is a very mild solvent it cannot harm the delicate paint layers as other, harsher solvents can. Jeff Nelson. Please advise. This is a good question, Marie, and I don’t have a perfect answer for you. Thanks! Notice the difference in colour between: Re-touch varnish, refined Linseed oil, Dammar Varnish. It would be great to see an expansion of the oil painting section. I think I should have oiled out but am unsure what to do after the fact. What I love about Gamvar is that I can varnish with a final varnish right after my paintings are dry to the touch. If I have painted picture with oil figures on an acrylic background and I varnish it as if it is an oil painting will the background acrylic run, or will it accept the varnish? Then, a new varnish can be applied. Earth colours such as Raw umber dry a lot quicker. Cold Wax Medium can be used to make Gamblin mediums and Gamvar more matte. So now that the painting is varnished, I can place it on my drying rack vertically to allow it to dry over the next 2-3 days. Doug Swinton does a brief demonstration on how to use Gamblin's Gamvar Satin Varnish Mmm, it’s a tricky one because most varnishes are designed to be removable so you can replace and re-apply them in the future but this will be much harder to do with the raw canvas because the varnish will go into the weave of the canvas. Developed in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, Gamvar goes on water-clear, stays water-clear and can be easily and safely removed with Gamsol. Cheers, Will. My desire is to have the green bars and orange lines really pop with gloss, and the gray underneath to be matte, and I’m experimenting with liquin and neo meglip as mediums. A cheap Gesso, a too absorbent or an unevenly absorbent ground. Have really enjoyed your book on so many levels. Note: It is preferable to not use the same brush for this dabbing step as you did for the varnishing. Since it’s not mentioned on the bottle, or in other places — I presume it can’t be too long. I’ve used it under the paint successfully but now that it’s a tad dull I wondered if I can spray it over to top and have a similar outcome to restoring the shine? Thanks! Hi Shirley, yes, you can spot remove areas, turpenoid won’t be a strong enough to dissolve the Dammar resin. Pro-tip: To dilute the Dammar varnish you ideally need to use Turpentine which is better suited to a well ventilated separate studio space, rather than a ventilated room in a home. Stay safe! I basically painted with fast drying oils in thin washes, using liquin as medium. Each surface will soak up a varying degree of varnish at a different rate so would often give a different sheen to the finish. Mineral Spirit Acrylic varnishes (MSA’s) have a high molecular weight tend to offer a better protective surface, have greater elasticity and more resistance to blooming. Since moving etc., I really didn’t have a nice clean ventilated area to spray, so decided to brush Damar Varnish on a 24X30 inch oil painting. Mitch, this is very helpful. Can you offer any more information on that? I introduce a warmer red and bring in, Increasing the contrast I’m now contrasting th, 3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t), How to apply a varnish to an Acrylic Painting. Pro tip: Some brands of student quality oil paints contain driers in their slower drying pigments in order to bring the drying times closer together. I want to protect a 20 yr old oil painting that has never been varnished. Fabulous! Thanks Carol, pleased you found it easy to follow, Varnish can have a lot of considerations. I was afraid you would say that. I am ok with doing multiple coats, just want something that’s easy to put down and will give the colors the brightest pop, with the high-gloss. Hi Troy, the varnish Gamvar is already available, you can see details here. I started a comment several days ago but got interrupted. Gamblin makes a nice one, you can mix it with your oils and it will make them thicker and stiffer and also more matte. Could I go over this varnish with a satin coat to bring back the quality it had before? Tried it on a couple small test pieces and so far these pieces look fine. Hope the commission goes well. Question – I have an oil paining with uneven sheen. Hi Mitch, Hi Terry, have a watch of the videos above and you can see a couple of alternatives using artist painting mediums. If you’re painting more abstract or impressionistic style works, it can work really well. Thank you. The other thing to consider when using Artist quality paints is which pigment you are painting with – if it’s a quick-drying or slow drying pigment. The article said it was called “in-painting”. Pour out some varnish into a shallow dish. Thanks. Hi, this may sound like an strange question, but I’m new to oil painting. I too prefer a matte finish. Cheers, Will, Hi Will, Wondering if you have any recommendations for a varnish that is relatively easy to obtain (blick, jerry’s, etc.) Hi Archana, I tend to use Gamvar, which is a modern varnish by Gamblin that can be used on acrylics and oils and used when the oil paint is touch dry. How many days gap? The ease of application, and how good it looks, blow all of the others away. I have an oil painting that I’m wanting to wax and buff to a high sheen. Now I worry about yellowing and/or cracking. Gamvar is virtually odourless and ready to apply. The problem I’m now having is that the the darks are drying far too glossy. If you want a satin or matte finish, you will need add cold wax medium. Will. Hi Tony, with Gamvar, you can apply when the surface is touch dry. N.B This is just a reference to traditional oil paints and different drying times of each pigment, I’m not referring to ‘Quick drying oil paints’ that dry within a day. Pro-tip: To dilute the Dammar varnish you ideally need to use Turpentine which is better suited to a well ventilated separate studio space, rather than a ventilated room in a home. Painters should buy the size container that is appropriate for their needs and use it within a year or two. 7. they rock. Only one coat is required, and it dries to its final sheen overnight. Cheers, Will. :) Thanks a ton! Also, would I dilute a copal picture varnish brilliant gloss? Tried to find information on varnishing oil paintings, and wound up here again. It also saturates the colour a lot more than if we just used Turpentine or Mineral Spirits to dilute the paint consistency. Cheers, Will, I’ve recently bought a very fine realist painting from a friend. My question is, can I still use it? This can be applied to the entire painting or just to the area that needs to be enlivened. which can be dissolved in a solvent, this solvent evaporates away when the paint dries. Hope this helps. Although Gamvar is easy to use, you should test it on an old painting first, as you would any new studio method. Thanks so much for your help. Because Liquin is not a varnish! Its frustrating and I’m considering pouring a shit load of gamvar on top and waiting till the puddle dries. I’d try a sample on a small test canvas first so you’ve got your technique down first before committing to the piece you’re working on. Some brush-on varnishes are oilier and slightly viscous, making it harder to achieve an even coat. I have some Gamvar varnish left that I mixed together 6 month ago. Thank you for replying! I wouldn’t do this on the piece that is already varnished …but for future paintings, it’s a great way to ensure that the varnish goes on more evenly. It was dry after 2 days no problem. Always apply varnish as thinly as possible, avoiding visible brush strokes. You wouldn’t necessarily need the liquin or neo meglip on the different layers as a couple of applications of the varnish would give you a more even finish. Just look at its lineage: Gamblin worked with the National Gallery of Art to bring Gamvar to life. Solvent-Free Gel has a moderately fast drying rate and increases gloss. It can be removed with Gamsol, a very mild solvent. Am I right in thinking that I should oil out then use satin varnish, then buff the painting with a wax varnish (my aim is to have a very slight overall sheen). I understand that a gloss varnish will accentuate the sheen difference, but what about a matte varnish? The last thing to do is to bri, Adding red. Do I varnish with a brush to rectify these specks? So as not to interfere with this drying process, it is usually recommended that you wait six months (for thin paint) to a year (for thicker paint) before varnishing. So depending on the subject and mood/feel I’m after with the painting I’d change the aspects within the image. Fantastic article, as always. Solvent-Free Gel gives colors more flow and transparency, yet holds the shape of your brushmark. Use a wide varnish brush in a vigorous brush action to ensure a thin even layer. If appropriate, you may choose to simply “spot varnish” in those duller areas only. I’m very interested in the new synthetic varnish that you mentioned is being developed. Could you give me a ratio of parts Linseed oil vs parts thinner, which I am assuming would be Turpentine or Mineral Spirits? A sprayed coat of varnish will dry within 10 minutes and subsequent coats can then be applied, always allow the previous coat to dry first. Hi Glenda, you can use the same varnishes for oil paintings containing alykd mediums as you would with traditional oils. Wow, I don’t know how you manage to pack so much info in and make it so accessible… but you’ve done it again :) Many, many thanks Will. You can use a satin varnish, or mix your own between matte and gloss to get the perfect sheen you’re after. I’d still try a test piece first to see how it brushes on and how much it has yellowed as Damar yellows with age, I tend to use modern varnishes such as Gamvar from Gamblin. To pop compared to the differences in absorption between the layers Raw umber dry lot! Am new to varnishing overestimate the amount of varnish from several other manufacturers, and will paint..., however, they are best used as fresh as possible, avoiding visible brush strokes wouldn... Approaches to the area that needs to be varnish is a 2-1/2 inch wide Asian-style Hake brush! Needed a refresher on varnishing oil paintings, as usually with oils there a... 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