View Full Version : Problem!

06-29-2001, 07:28 PM
I had finished "purple nude" and varnished it with Damar varnish after it was dry, but I was new to the process and didn't know what I was doing. I left a lot of "holidays" (missed spots) and in an attempt to correct them I managed to get the whole thing quite splotchy and there is a fairly large area where there is no varnish. I know I can take the varnish off, but with what? And how? Is turpentine the only thing that will dissolve damar varnish? Is there an alternative (turps gives me headaches). What should I do?

06-29-2001, 10:42 PM
Well, I have varnished with Damar, but never had this problem or had to remove the varnish.

My thoughts are that you might be successful with another coat of Damar completely covering the painting.

My advice is that you wait until someone who may have experience with this problem comes along and may be able to provide a different answer or confirm mine.

I hate to think of you trying to take turps to the painting to remove the damar - you need cloths with no lint, and you have to be very careful to keep from eating into the paint. It can be tricky. This must feel awful! I sympathize with you! :(

07-01-2001, 06:11 AM
hi sanD...

you've really got yourself a good one! firstly, it is very difficult to remove varnish from a painting without compromising the actual painting. aside from that obvious observation, you can do a few things that might help, but it all depends on certain factors.

what type of damar did you use? a brand, a combination of damar and another resin? damar you made your self?

how thick is the layer of varnish? could you paint over the whole thing without it looking like it is bumpy? do you have splatters too?

you see all of these factors affect what to do. if you can give a little more detail, and ALSO, what effect you are seeking with the varnish, it would help to determine which road to take.

for example: do you want a glossy surface that "floats" on top, or do you want a feeling like the gloss is eminating from the paint?

what type of painting is this? for example, photo realist painting, or a painterly painting...could the texture of the varnish add to the work overall?

anyway, if you could supply some details, it'll be easier to help you with this.

07-01-2001, 12:13 PM
It's been suggested that I go over the whole thing with a more dilute damar,using turps.

But I'm also tempted to rework some of the areas of the painting itself. Right now it's too glossy where there is varnish.

I may just do the whole thing over again on a new canvas. The image is good I think, but my technique is lacking in this one and it may be markedly better if I paint it using what I learned from the original.

Thanks for your help!

07-01-2001, 06:12 PM
hi sanD...

you could also do a retouch varnish to even out the effect, than rework the painting.

its a nice work, and it would be a shame to lose it.

retouch varnish is a thinned down version of damar, i would recommend going over the painting lightly, letting it dry...than repainting...than in the end...SPRAYING the varnish on.

this method renders great results with varnishing. it is easy to do and fairly easy to get a uniform finish.

also, if you want, you could just mix a different medium with the paint to get a gloss finish without that "varnished glossy" look that you are saying you don't like.

anyway...i believe you can fix this painting without having to paint a new one.

07-01-2001, 10:00 PM
Applying damar varnish can be tricky and I feel for you. I have made the same mistake as you described and went back to pick up the missed areas with more damar and you could tell where I left off, overlapping strokes, too thick, glossy variance, etc. It is very disappointing to get this far with a painting and then have this art piece look like a glazed donut. When varnishing I make sure I am in a dust free zone and that everything is ready before I load the varnish brush with damar. I slightly heat my damar. Two reasons I feel it flows easier and I do not like the shiny look of damar so I add beewax to produce a matte finish. The beeswax/damar varnish needs to be heated so both disperse with each other evenly. Lie the painting on a flat surface and remember to work fast but diligently. It is important not to load the brush heavily, thin is better, but more important is to work fast because damar dries rapidly. I am always looking down at a angle to see where I might have missed and then I can go back and pick up that area, again with rapid brush strokes. I varnish all my work because it allows any sunken areas to come into harmony with the rest of the painting so everything is unified and the surface is one for my painting below.

In the case of removing damar varnish: If the painting was throughly dry before the application of the damar the following method works but demands patience to remove correctly. Barely dampened cotton pads in turpentine rolled over the surface picking up the varnish. Rinse the varnish out of the cotton pad with turps, squezze dry and continue. It is a slow process that you don't want to rush. Don't oversaturate the surface and don't rub! :oL

07-02-2001, 09:14 AM
So many options! Thank you all very much. Leopoldo, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one that has trouble with "glazed donuts" (lol).
I like the wax and varnish idea. More details please, Dorland's wax medium ok? How do you heat the stuff and in what proportion?

07-02-2001, 09:53 AM
Originally posted by SanDL

I like the wax and varnish idea. More details please, Dorland's wax medium ok? How do you heat the stuff and in what proportion?

Damar varnish is cheap and easy to make. You can buy damar crystals at most art stores along with unbleached beeswax pastilles. Soak the damar crystals usually overnight with equal parts of turpentine by volume to fully dilute. Depending on the grade of damar crystals you buy their might be insect debris, dirt, pieces of bark, etc with the crystals. I pour the diluted solution through a nylon stocking to catch the rough stuff and then pour into qt. canning jars and let sit a month or so to clearify even further. More minute debris will settle to the bottom. You can then decant and use. At this 50/50 solution stage it is too strong to use and needs to be diluted further. What works for me is not a real dull matte look but slightly off the shiny look and the recipe that follows seems to work. 4 parts Damar - 1 part natural unbleached beeswax - 2 parts turpentine. Heat slowly at a low temperature and it would be best outside on a camp stove because of the flumes and especailly the flashpoint of the turps! It is safe if you keep the temperature low enough and just high enough to melt the wax throughly with the damar varnish. It is ready to use at this stage. When the solution is cooled, the wax settles to the bottom and you will have to reheat to use the next time around.

Dorlands wax medium should work just fine but you need to experiment with adding this wax to your damar varnish, either homemade or store bought. Dorlands ingredients are: mineral spirits, parafin wax, damar resin, bees wax and ozokerite wax. :oL

07-02-2001, 07:37 PM
Leopoldo, I have saved your reply in a file. Thank you so much!
I will give a try. I need to order the materials next. Sandy