This past month, I have had some questions regarding finishing and varnishing of oil paintings. So I thought I would share some of my tips along with the drawings for the forty-first week of daily sketching, continuing Inktober, by far one of of my favourite week of prompts:
When it comes to protecting their work, some artists like to use a liquid varnish they spread with a paint brush because they have problems achieving an even finish with a spray varnish. But applying with a paint brush can leave streaks which is why I don’t like it. I personally like spray varnish but not all are equal.
My favourite and what I use is Kamar varnish (by Krylon). I apply three coats on all my oil and acrylic paintings. It has a satin finish. Method of application is important: I apply the first coat up and down the canvas, lightly overlapping the spray, the second coat goes side to side and the third in diagonal. If I feel it needs a 4th coat, especially for larger paintings, I’ll apply another diagonal coat, going opposite of the previous one.
One of the keys to successful spray varnishing is to make sure the varnish dries at least 30 minutes between each coat.
You also need to shake the can a minimum of two full minutes or even better three, in order to mix the gloss and mat elements to get a good satin finish.
This synthetic varnish will not yellow and protects as well as traditional damar.
The other advantage of using this on oil paintings is that you don’t need to wait 6 months before applying this varnish since it can also be used as a rework varnish. Two weeks is sufficient.
If you prefer a mat finish for your oils and acrylics, I suggest doing two coats of Kamar as described above then two coats of mat overlapping while changing direction. It gives a different look that some people appreciate.
Now that I am painting more in watercolours, I even spray my watercolours with it followed by a mat varnish. It keeps the look and feel of watercolour and you can skip the glass. I have also used it on colour pencils and inks. It is a most versatile product.
Finally, don’t forget to do the varnishing outside or, if inside, choose a well ventilated area and make sure you wear respiratory protection as the small particles are toxic for your lungs.
I hope you enjoyed these varnishing tips. I welcome technical questions about oil and acrylic paintings or my work. We can explore techniques together.
In the meantime, as many governments (including ours) cancelled Christmas reunions, let’s keep out spirit up and keep on creating!
Thank you for reading, take care and stay safe!
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