View Full Version : varnishing help needed- uneven finish

09-23-2004, 05:29 PM

I varnished a painting on board. The brush strokes are very smooth, not alot of texture.
I put 1 layer of varnish on with a brush, and after that had dried, applied another layer going in the opposite direction. The problem is, at an angle you can see uneven lines of the varnish, not thick, just kind of streaky, but not cloudy.
How can I correct this, should apply a layer of spray varnish over this?
I used the Golden brand umlvs satin varnish, thinned with water.

09-24-2004, 08:05 AM
I would always advise using a solvent-based varnish on acrylics anyway as the final protective layer instead of a water-soluble finish like this, which is pretty much just acrylic medium. Most manufacturers suggest an isolating layer of acrylic medium underneath solvent varnishes like Golden's MSA so you've already got that layer. I would suggest buying MSA or Soluvar and giving them a shot, they're both a better idea in the long run and you'll find them easier to apply evenly than water-based finishes.


09-24-2004, 09:26 AM
The key with this type of varnish is thin layers :D

09-24-2004, 09:56 AM
Thanks for the information, Einion, Candian.
I will try a different kind of varnish for the final coat of what was suggested.

09-24-2004, 12:24 PM
Good morning all,

What would be the reason that one would varnish a painting? I am just taking all of this wonderful info in and loving every minute of it.

WC is better than an art class. Thank you everyone :clap:

Gini :wave:

09-24-2004, 04:02 PM
Varnish is a protective layer applied on top of the paint surface so that dust (which inevitably settles on a painting over the course of time) is not directly in contact with the paint. Fabric fibres, skin flakes and grit particles that are commonly suspended in the air as household dust can all become incorporated into the surface of a painting over time, with acrylics more so than other mediums because of the softness of acrylic paint films, particularly in warm, damp weather.

When it becomes necessary to clean a painting, maybe every three decades or so, the varnish itself might be found to be discoloured and/or damaged by the dirt and can be removed and replaced with fresh varnish if necessary. If this dirt was on the actual painting surface you can see the problem it might pose.

This is why spirit-based varnishes are so important to use with acrylic paintings. If you use the old type of varnish that used to be sold for our use, which was basically just acrylic medium, not only was it just as soft as the paint itself (often softer) it was also impossible to remove easily because of course the same solvents that would work on it also worked just as well on the paint underneath - this is the 'solvent gap' issue you might see reference to.

If you don't like varnish for any reason, or you like your paintings to have a varied finish, or you are painting on paper, then it's best to frame behind glass for protection. This may not be practical for large paintings and adds significantly to the framing costs but some measure of protection should be taken if you are serious about your work enduring in good condition.


09-24-2004, 04:18 PM
For my 2 cents:
Most acrylic varnishes are somewhat concentrated and require thinning before using. Dilute them just enough to obtain a brushable liquid. MSA Varnish (solvent based) should be thinned with full strength sovents or artist garde turpentine. test for compatibility and then only thin as much varnish as needed for the job.

The most common mistake is failure to thoroughly mix varnishes before applying. The result is a patchy or streaky finish.

Never paint over any varnish layer. Paints will not adhere well and the paint will be lost when the varnish is removed for restoration.

-I hope that helps.

09-25-2004, 05:53 PM
Thanks everyone,