View Full Version : varnishing

02-22-2002, 01:23 PM
Ok now I feel like a dumbhead. I have been painting many years in acrylics and have recently switched to oils. I paint ala prima and I dont use any medium perhaps just a little turps at the start (turpenoid odorless). I leave them to dry for a few weeks. Then what do I do? Do I have to varnish. I was just popping them into frames and sending them on there merry way. Yikes.

Wayne Gaudon
02-22-2002, 01:41 PM
I'm new to oils so here is what I have uncovered on this site and in books .. if I'm wrong someone will just jump in here and correct me so you should get the appropriate answer.

If you oil your canvas or board before you begin your painting then all your oil paint should dry to a nice glossy finish and you should not need to varnish the piece within a few year period.

If you don't then some parts of your painting may dry with the oiled out or matte look. This will be corrected when you varnish the piece or if you don't plan on using varnish later, you can re-oil your canvas after the paint has had a few weeks to dry.

You should not varnish a painting for up to 6 months after painting it as it takes that long and longer for the oil paint to completely finish it's curing process.

Oiling a canvas .. add some oil to the canvas and using the palm of your hand rub it all over and into the canvas. The heat from your hand will allow it to go into the canvas. When you are done make sure you use a lint free cloth and wipe the entire surface down well to remove any excess surface oil. If you don't, after you paint on it you could experience the runs .. UGH!

Hopefully, this will get this tread rolling for you.


02-22-2002, 01:54 PM
So If you like the way it looks without a varnish...leave it alone? Also on the oiling part before you paint. What exactly do you mean by oil? I would like clarity so I do not misunderstand you. Also thank you for taking the time to reply.

02-22-2002, 01:55 PM
then it dawns on me.
Is this why painters like to use a medium in there paint, to keep a continuous shine in the paint? I tried liquin and to be honest I found it a bit gawdy. I probably used to much right?

02-22-2002, 03:56 PM
The Varnish is for protection. Best to wait 6 months to a year before varnishing. Some artists varnish, others do not. Your choice. Although it is much better to varnish! (It will sure last a lot longer!!)

I believe Artist is talking about linseed oil.

Different Mediums have Different purposes. Read the labels, as they will tell you for what purpose that particular medium is for. Some use medium for shine, some for a quicker drying time, some for a slower drying time, etc.

Read this thread - and there are many others like it: "Some advice for New Painters:

There are many other threads in this forum that have invaluable information.

Have fun :angel:


Wayne Gaudon
02-22-2002, 06:26 PM
I oil down the canvas with linseed oil before I paint. I don't use extra oil in my paint. The oil gives you a layer which you can move the paint around more freely. It is not a necessity, just the way some people do things. If I wanted to thin a paint down I would use stand oil as it is thicker and from what I have read, the better oil to use for such a purpost.

I have also read that you should never repaint any passage (make a correction to an older piece) without oiling the spot first.

02-22-2002, 09:40 PM
I saw some advice here a while back (I think it was impressionist2) to thin down re-touch varnish with turpentine, and give it a thin coat as soon as the painting is dry to the touch. The thin coat allows the oil paint underneath to continue to dry. Then, if it is sold, you can tell the customer to return it in a year if they want it properly varnished. This sounded like good advice for work that is sold quickly.

02-23-2002, 01:39 AM
You really should varnish if you are serious about your work, or at the very least tell the buyer that the painting should be varnished in due course, when it has had time to dry properly.

However, if you paint in a thick impasto you really shouldn't varnish as it would be very hard or impossible to remove when necessary. In which case you should, if at all possible, frame the work behind glass to protect it from dust etc.