View Full Version : Best matte varnish for oil on canvas?

02-08-2019, 10:42 AM
Hey guys!!

Looking for a good matte varnish to finish an oil painting (on canvas).

Have been reading up a bit on different products and it seems like quite a few types seem to 'dull' the painting down. Was just wondering if anyone has come across something that avoids this.

Also, unfortunately this is quite time sensitive so any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated as soon as possible!


02-08-2019, 10:53 AM
The nature of a matte varnish is going to dull the color intensity and the contrast down. There is no way to avoid that. Gloss varnish is always going to give you the most intense colors and contrast.

For when you want a matte finish, the thinner the varnish the better. Thicker matte coatings will soften everything the thicker they get. I am a fan of Gamvar. You can buy a bottle of their gloss and their matte and mix them to achieve intermediate sheen levels. Gamvar suggests first applying a coat of gloss followed by a coat of matte / satin for best results rather than starting with the matte / satin. You need to let the gloss dry completely before putting on the matte / satin and try to brush as little as possible, working quickly and not going back to previously coated areas. If you can get the matte to cover in one coat I find it to be easier than gloss followed by matte / satin, but I have not used the matte / satin enough to say for sure which is best in the long run. I tend to use mostly gloss simply because the painting comes to life so much more than with matte / satin.

Richard P
02-08-2019, 10:56 AM
A matte varnish will lighten dark values and not really alter light ones. If you have a painting with a lot of dark areas you will lose some contrast and blackness if you use a matte varnish.

This is just the nature of how matte surfaces reflect light compared to glossy ones.

Richard P
02-08-2019, 10:57 AM
Beaten :)

02-08-2019, 11:11 AM
Thanks very much. To be honest Im becoming less inclined to use a matte finish now...

I know this is a little off topic but I struggling to interpret something...
I entered a painting into a competition and made it through the first round so will now be dropping it off for further judging later this month.

In the rules, it says that works should be "preferably framed and unglazed"
In another section it says "However, if the work is glazed, we
recommend removing the frame to avoid reflection"

I know this might seem like a silly question but do you think they are referring to having glass covering the piece or an actual glaze/varnish on the painting itself.


02-08-2019, 11:56 AM
you are welcome.

That reads as a typo to me. Pretty sure they meant to remove the glazing / glass. Glazing means glass, it does not mean varnish.

02-08-2019, 03:03 PM
GamVar can be applied much sooner than many varnishes, and itís available in matte, gloss and satin. I prefer satin.

02-08-2019, 03:08 PM
I'm with Tom on this..... a satin for me.