Here are some thoughts on varnishing and finishing a painting.
When the time comes to finish a painting, my varnish of choice is Kamar Varnish by Krylon. It can be used on oil or acrylic paintings, is non-yellowing and really brings out the colors as well as adjust the shine if you have used mediums for your painting. It also has another big advantage. It can be reworked over without any problem; the new paint will stick to it. When I purchase the varnish, I always put the date on the can (2016-07 in this case) and if I buy several can, I number them (1,2,3 etc).This ensures I use the older product first and finish a can before I start another.
I always apply a minimum of 3 coats, sometimes 4. Since it is a spray varnish, it is important to shake very well and to wear a mask when applying, especially if you are applying the varnish inside. Don’t take a chance, it is very toxic. I usually apply the varnish inside to be able to control such factors as wind and dust. Make sure you protect surrounding areas and take the paintings outside to dry.
Coats are criss-crossed: First coat, horizontal, second, vertical, third diagonal. If I add a fourth coat, it will be diagonal contrary to third coat. This insures an even finish.
About self-levelling gel:
On a small painting, I tested some self-levelling clear gel by Golden (name changed recently to Clear levelling gel). This gel can be used on top of or mixed with acrylic paints, never use this with oil paints.
It says in the name that it is self-levelling and promises to dry to a clear flat finish but this does not work as you can see. It can also be used to increase transparency and sheen of acrylic paints and claims to impart levelling quality to acrylic paints it is mixed with.
I used this painting as an experiment since I needed to rework it. I applied the gel with a soft clean brush and waited for it to dry.
When it did, the surface was streaked with brush strokes and so were the sides. A real mess!
So in the future, I’ll use this for multimedia techniques, collage or mix with paint, because you can’t expect a good finish from it or use it as a coat before a final varnish if you want a smooth finish.
So this was an experiment and it kind of ruined this painting. Needless to say, I will not be using this product for any step involving finishing or preparing to finish any painting again.
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