My Art Blog

Friday, 4 October 2019

Varnishing a painting

So, an acrylic painting is waterproof once it's dry ... so I wondered what is the point of varnishing it!

After doing some investigation I found there are a good few reasons for varnishing

  • It protects it from dust, UV rays, yellowing and damage
  • It provides an even sheen over the entire painting
  • But the main reason seems to be the lovely gloss finish and how enhances the colours and makes the painting look more like a traditional oil painting
I must admit I love the effect after varnishing, it really makes the colours come to life!

Note: Make sure you take all your photos of your finished painting before applying a gloss layer.  Once the gloss varnish has been applied it's nearly impossible to take a photo of the painting without glare.  If you're using a matte layer you're probably okay to take photos after varnishing.  I only varnish using gloss varnish - as the enhanced colours/sheen of the painting is the main reason I varnish it in the first place.

Note #2: Make sure you leave the painting to dry for at least 24 hrs before applying the varnish!  You don't want the paint and varnish to mix together ... although maybe that would create an interesting effect :-)

Note #3: Test out your varnishing technique on some old canvases first before going anywhere near your current work!

I use Windsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic gloss varnish.  To be honest, initially it was just the one I bought in my local art shop- but it works really well for me.

Finally, I personally don't use an isolation layer (although many people do),  If you want to remove the varnish at a later stage, then you may want to add an isolation layer first.  I see it as an extra (and most cost) stage that I don't need.

You'll need a large brush (only to be used for varnishing), a container for pouring the varnish into, somewhere to lay the painting down completely flat for a few hours, and something to place it on i.e. some old cardboard

Give the varnish a gentle shake before using, and pour a little bit of it into your container (I used far too much the first time I tried to varnish a painting).
Dip your brush into the varnish and do some nice broad strokes across the length of the painting to give it a nice even coat, continue down the length of the painting until it's completely covered.  Leave it to dry for a couple of hours.

I usually add a second coat of varnish, but make sure you leave 24 hours before adding the second coat.  Again, leave it to dry for a couple of hours and then you're done.

Make sure you thoroughly wash out your brush and container - and just keep them for varnish use only.


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