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Winsor & Newton Oil Colour Varnishes

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Winsor and Newton Oil Paint Varnish Satin Matt and Glossy

Winsor and Newton oil paint varnish comes in satin, matt, and glossy finishes.

Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
Winsor & Newton revamped their oils, mediums, varnishes and solvents for oil painting, launching the new range in August 2011.

The most immediate change is the switch from glass bottles to PET 'plastic' bottles. These are still recyclable, but have the advantage of being less likely to break when dropped. The design is also ergonomic, easy and comfortable to hold in your hand.

New to the Winsor & Newton range of Artists' Oil Colour varnishes is a satin varnish, which is a semi-sheen finish, somewhere between the glossy and matt varnishes available. Previously you had to get a satin finish by either mixing gloss and matt varnish before applying it, or applying a layer of one over the other being careful to ensure it was brushed on evenly.

Pros:
• Varnishes suitable for oils, alkyd or acrylic paintings.
• Removable with white/mineral spirits or turpentine.
• Provides UV protection.
• Child-proof caps.

Cons:
• Solvent based, so use in a well ventilated studio.
• Only available with child-proof caps, which require the strength to push down and twist to open.

Shake the Bottle

Winsor and Newton Oils VarnishesPhoto ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

As the resins in satin and matt varnish settle at the bottom of the bottle, you need to shake them before using. I found the new shape of the bottle instinctively made me want to do this; there's just about the way it sits in your hand! Obviously you don't want bubbles in the varnish when you apply it, but I found the bubbles dissipated rapidly.

Using the Varnish

Both the gloss and satin varnish brushed on smoothly and evenly, almost effortlessly. The matt varnish felt stickier under the brush, and I was more conscious of moving the brush back and forth to spread it. The matt also didn't level out brushmarks to the same extent, so if you were applying only one coat you'd need to work meticulously to get an even coat. I generally use two or three coats of varnish, which generally evens things out.

The gloss and satin dried rapidly, a bit faster than the matt. The result as you'd want: a protective layer on a painting with the finish as shiny or matt as you wish.

These varnishes can be used on acrylic paintings as well as oil and alkyd paintings. (It 'works' in the same way oil paint over acrylics does.) Useful if you wish to have only one container of varnish.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

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