View Full Version : 'Tut' Finished and a question about varnishing it

02-20-2014, 12:31 AM
I finished this awhile back and its been sitting because I can't decide how to varnish it. Or how the varnish might affect the iridescence or the black background which is unpainted (black gessoed canvas). I've never painted a face before (okay, this is a mask) and I know I did not quite capture him, particularly the eye. The size of the headdress is off as well ~ I had to make it wider because the face should have come across more of the canvas. Iridescent paint on black canvas is not so forgiving, especially for a beginner. All in all I am happy with the result.

This is 20x16 acrylic (mix of golden iridescent and non-iridescent paints) on black canvas.

I should mention I normally use a gloss varnish first (it brings out the color) and when it is dry I put a second coat of Satin finish varnish which takes the gloss away without losing the vibrance of the colors. I do not use spray varnish. Anyone ever varnish unpainted black canvas? Suggestions?


02-20-2014, 01:14 AM
Beautiful painting. The black canvas is stunning and I think you captured the face very well.

I have never varnished any of mine yet, so I have no advice on that score.

chammi kaiser
02-20-2014, 05:11 AM
I think this is stunning and I , personally would not varnish it at all since you have used varnish in the painting itself. Love the shine on the face.

02-20-2014, 06:08 AM
I would try an experimental varnishing first on a small panel. I personally like the look of a gloss varnish. What most people don't realize is that the satin and matt finishes are from a matting agent (white powder) that is added to the gloss varnish or medium. That is why I suggest doing the sample panel first. It could alter the color of the black gesso background.

02-20-2014, 01:11 PM

02-20-2014, 01:54 PM
Nice work, very dramatic!

02-20-2014, 04:12 PM
Wow! Very dramatic. Love the colors and finish looks glossy due to the iridescent medium. Well done!

02-20-2014, 06:31 PM
Great use of the medium and I think your rendering and composition are really dynamic.

I really like liquitex brush-on varnish and it will really bring out the colors.

02-20-2014, 11:05 PM
Fantastic - wow, that really shines! I love all the lost edges in combination with the strong lines, really creates interest and vibrancy to the piece. I too have no advice about varnish. I'm just here to admire your work :)

02-21-2014, 01:16 AM
Thanks so much Colin, Susan, Michelle, Bhavani and Monarchd. I really appreciate your comments.

Thanks Chammi! I didn't actually use varnish in the painting but rather iridescent paint. So I do want to protect it.

Hi Idylbrush and thanks for your feedback. I knew that matte and satin varnishes contained a particulate that dulls both finish and color and can dry cloudy if you're not careful but I didn't realize that was a white powder. Definitely a good idea to try on another black canvas first and I have a small one that I did but was not nearly as much work as this one so I will try that first! Thanks again!

Thanks so much Derek. Appreciate your feedback. I too prefer Liquitex brush on. I've tried Golden (it foamed a lot and was not nice to work with) as well but prefer Liquitex. I use a foam pad to apply it rather than a brush though. I am afraid of brush marks (don't know if it would leave them or not) and I can work faster.

I'm not sure I want the black to be glossy. Ahh, decisions decisions.

Thanks again everyone,

02-21-2014, 01:30 AM
stunning! I thought I was looking at a picture from national geographic!

02-21-2014, 02:56 AM
Wow Beegirl! What an awesome compliment! Thank You!

02-21-2014, 03:04 AM
Beautiful work! I love Egyptian art, so this one is extra special for me to see. Side note, your signature is so clean and neat, it looks awesome too.

02-21-2014, 01:25 PM
Thanks so much Christy! I too love all things Egypt. We were lucky enough to spend 2 weeks touring around Egypt back in 2008 before things got really crazy. Picked up some Egyptian art on papyrus which is still safely stowed in the tube. Ha Can't decide on how to frame. Also convinced the gallery to sell me some blank authentic papyrus but I'm afraid to touch it! Its pretty precious to me.

doctoring in arts
02-21-2014, 01:34 PM
beautiful painting. it looks already glossy..

02-21-2014, 08:17 PM
First off, incredible work. Well done!

I also often work on a black background (but mine is paint not black gesso). I am afraid to varnish because I use a variety of glossy and matte paints in a highly stucco/impasto style, and I actually really like the depth that I feel comes from the variety of gloss and matte throughout the painting. Now I'm feeling a little concerned that if I don't varnish over time it could be a problem... I hope you don't mind my adding on to your thread by asking what the pros and cons are of varnish (or a good thread to look to regarding this). Thanks!


02-22-2014, 12:29 AM
O used a high gloss one time and it turn white on me :eek:
I put the second coat on too soon and it turn white. a friend of mine I called and he told me to put it in the sun for a few hours It did clear it up. never happen on matt yet as I wait between coats now.
Never used the black canvas as I do not like the flat look. I put down a red of some type and let it dry and then come back with a Prussian blue. I let some of the red show. then if I wish it really dark I put a very dark green on top of it, maybe in areas. I think it looks better that flat black, It would have some pop to it. :)
just try it on a canvas that you do not care about first. if it turn white put it in the sun for a few hours:crossfingers:

Oh I like to brush it on. I did use spay but that not for me anymore.

02-22-2014, 06:19 AM
I would try an experimental varnishing first on a small panel.
Ditto, ditto, and more ditto. This is what I was going to say. What a gorgeous painting, I do hope you proceed gently into the varnishing process so you will enhance rather than detract from what you have. Experimenting on a piece that isn't important to you is SUCH a good idea!


02-23-2014, 01:24 PM
Doctoring in Arts ~ Thank you!

Kim ~ Thanks so much and I don't mind your adding to the thread at all. Hope someone can answer to your concerns. I too like the combination of matte and sheen with Tut and am afraid of losing that with varnish, however, I won't leave it unprotected.

Jocko ~ Thanks for the tips! Good to know sunlight could potentially help!

Meredith ~ Thank you and indeed I will proceed with caution. Definitely try it out on a different canvas first.