Friday, March 28, 2008
Varnishing oil or acrylic paintings always seems to cause angst in people, me included. Why varnish, when to varnish, how dry is dry in oil painting, which varnish to use, how to apply it, etc., all provide confusion for artists.
I have put the finishing touches on this little painting for the exhibition on Sunday and tested it in a new frame today. For some reason, I can't get a decent photo of this painting, likely because the light was fading as I photographed it and I didn't want to chance the scanner at this point. The paint surface is dry to the touch and I wonder about varnish. I may get away with a retouch varnish and then an offer to do a full varnish in a few of months, when the paint is thoroughly dry, but it is recommended that even a retouch varnish is not used until the painting dries for a month.
My concern comes with the fact that if applied too soon, even the retouch varnish may mix with the paint itself. My other recourse - and I don't have the luxury of time - is to speed up the drying process. I am doing this with heat and the painting is now propped up before the woodstove with the blower on so that the paint surface has a chance to really dry before I try the retouch varnish tomorrow.
So why am I leaving this so late? This painting was a last minute fixer upper. I'd played around with a base coat for this a few months ago, then resurrected it last week to put it into the show on Sunday. By Easter Sunday I had to provide entry details and I gave those of this oil. Yes, I guess I could have eliminated it, but figured I could pull it off.
Varnish serves a couple of purposes for oils or acrylic paintings. It gives a protective coating for the paint surface against the environment and also brings out the colours in duller areas, brightening them.
Trueart gives some good information on the types of varnishes and their application as well as recipes for creating your own varnish.
Sanders Studios provides a great source on mediums, drying oils, resins, siccatives and diluents.
The Gamblin Newsletter from October 2003 is looks into the history of varnishing as well as the how to's.