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Was It the Wrong Varnish for Oil Paint?

By January 24, 2013

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"When I started oil painting, I would religiously varnish my oils. But either I was using the wrong technique or the wrong varnish, it was not effective.

"I saw some artists drying their oils in direct sunlight and others varnishing their paintings with spray varnish directly as soon as they finished. It was so confusing, I no longer varnish my paintings. Sometimes, I clean my oils and rework them."
-- M.A.
Winsor and Newton oil varnishThere are two categories of varnish for oil paint. Retouch varnish for when a painting isn't yet fully dry (i.e. immediately), and final varnish for when it is (i.e. six months later). I'm not sure what you were expecting in terms of varnish being "effective", but what you ought to get is an even finish -- glossy, satin, or matte depending on the properties of the varnish you're using. It may take more than one coat to axhieve.

If there's a chance you might rework a painting, I wouldn't bother varnishing it. I use the word "bother" because while I believe varnishing is important to protect paintings, doing it is on my list of tedious art tasks!


January 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm
(1) Melissa says:

I don’t believed you answered the question.
Do you know what was the name of the varnish?

Each artist generally has their own routine when they finish the piece.
Some use Liquin, cold wax and even darmar varnish, to seal and protect their art.

I don’t believe this artist knows when she completed her work, if she goes back to rework it.

Maybe she should try doing another painting with same subject, like Monet and the other impressionist.

January 25, 2013 at 3:31 am
(2) Marion BE says:

The only info I had is what’s quoted above.

Liquin isn’t a varnish, it’s a medium, and doesn’t provide the protection varnish does, such as UV filtering,. If a painting is restored, cleaning a layer of medium used as a final “varnish” and in the paint is much riskier than removing and replacing true varnish.

January 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm
(3) Meera Ahuja says:

I have been using Camel picture varnish. Camlin art products are quite reputed and I use Camel oil paints , oil pastels, acrylic paints and brushes. The reason I use to rework my paintings was because I was learning and when I would look back at them, I could see where I went wrong, like perspective or shade etc.

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