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Bendaini
03-13-2002, 07:23 PM
I've seen a few refrences to varnishing oils after they are completed and was wondering why people do this, and what pros and cons for it are.

I read in one thread that the painting has to be completely dry, which (acording to the one) took weeks or months (mine seem to be dry in about a week, a few days if i use less paint).

I just paint my pictures and let them dry, sometimes giving it a bit more oil to make them shiny if i want it that way... thats it...

And i was wondering about glazes too. Are there any links or anything i can look at because i have no idea what they are or what they do. It just seemed in the one thread i read it pushed things farther into the background or something....

robinsn
03-13-2002, 11:00 PM
Oil paintings may seem dry after a week or so, but it's only on the surface. To be thoroughly dry does take a lot longer - months.

Just a quick summary - A varnish will protect your painting from the elements - if it gets dirty, the varnish can be washed or taken off and reapplied, leaving the painting untouched. It also will give the surface a uniform look, either glossy or matte, depending on the varnish and can improve the look of the painting many-fold. Glossy varnish usually makes the colors brighter like they were when they were wet. It's similar to varnishing wood. It improves the looks and protects.

artbabe21
03-14-2002, 11:29 AM
Regarding final varnishes, which should be done after a painting is 6 months to a year dry, if the painting is sold, which hopefully it is, do you then take it back for the final coat? I am sure there are some artists who don't concern themselves with doing this. thanks for any information~

Bendaini
03-14-2002, 12:45 PM
Thank you for the info on varnishes. I still think i wont do it. I don't want to wait 6 months to a year just to varnish it.

And... if the paint is really really thin dont you think it could dry a bit faster then 6 months? not saying a week... but maybe a month.... I try not to use much paint at all on my paintings....

JeffG
03-14-2002, 03:47 PM
Originally posted by Bendaini
I've seen a few refrences to varnishing oils after they are completed and was wondering why people do this...

2 reasons:

[list=1]
To even out the sheen. If you use medium or turps to thin your paint, once it dries your'll notice that some areas are glossy while others are matt. Even if you use paint straight from the tube, you might still find that the varying oil content will cause this uneveness in surface gloss. This can really change how your finished product looks, unless you specify all the viewers stand in one specific spot to see an absolute even play of light on the final painting. Varnish helps unify the gloss-matt areas of your painting.
For protection. Over the years, dust and smoke will adhere to any painting's surface... of course it all depends on the environment, but it's rare that a painting will not get a thin film of something on its surface in a couple decades. I've gotten the impression that even a dry oil layer will hold this dirt more tenaciously than most other types of surfaces, making cleaning difficult without removing some of the paint. The varnish makes cleaning easier since it can be removed and replaced without (in theory) disturbing the original painting underneath.
[/list=1]

Scott Methvin
03-15-2002, 03:10 AM
I agree with the excellent advice given by Jeff and Robinsn.

Paint has to dry for 6 months or longer for 2 good reasons.
1) You do not want the varnish to become chemically part of the paint surface. This would be a disaster when you need to replace it later.
2) You want to make sure all the moisture is gone before sealing it. This prevents "bloom", or water vapor trapped between the paint and the varnish layer.

Jeff is so right about linseed oil, or any dried oil film attracting dust and dirt. This will become part of the paint in a short time. Permanently.

The great thing about varnishing a painting is how it can be removed and reapplied with little effort. The yellowing most people associate with oil painting is usually the varnish coat. If it was prepared properly, removal and replacement will reveal a clean original painting underneath.

I know so many artists, in my area that spray varnish as soon as the oil painting they have finished is dry to the touch. This gives it a polished, finshed and professional look. They then sell it to an unsuspecting buyer. 5 years later, the painting will get dirty and maybe yellow. The buyer takes the painting to a resorer to clean it up. Well, the varnish won't come off. Or it comes off part way. Like alligator skin. Like I said, a disaster time bomb and a mean trick to play on a client.

I have varnished paintings for free to clients if they live nearby.
It is good PR for your business and helps your long term reputation. (You need to keep track of when it was finished.) Thicker painted surfaces should wait longer than 6 months. A year or 2 is not unusual.

If they live out of town, I have given them instructions on how to clean and spray using the Grumbacher type dammar. Personally I prefer the brush on variety.

Bendaini
03-15-2002, 01:58 PM
Okay.. so where do i learn more about the varnish itself, what to buy, how to apply it and everything. I had never heard of varnish before comming to WC.

Oh.. and i am selling a painting i just did about 2 weeks ago to someone in alabama (i'm in CA) so how can i give him simple instructions on varnishing it?

artbabe21
03-15-2002, 02:14 PM
Thanks for this information on varnishing. It has always been controversial as many things in art are, as to when and what
should be done. It surprised me to think any artist wouldn't properly varnish a canvas leaving the client with a disaster!

Scott Methvin
03-15-2002, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by artbabe21
Thanks for this information on varnishing. It has always been controversial as many things in art are, as to when and what
should be done. It surprised me to think any artist wouldn't properly varnish a canvas leaving the client with a disaster!

I am pretty sure it is done in ignorance. I have asked several about the practice and they just shrug.:rolleyes:

Scott Methvin
03-15-2002, 08:45 PM
Originally posted by Bendaini
Okay.. so where do i learn more about the varnish itself, what to buy, how to apply it and everything. I had never heard of varnish before comming to WC.

Oh.. and i am selling a painting i just did about 2 weeks ago to someone in alabama (i'm in CA) so how can i give him simple instructions on varnishing it?

I recommened using dammar varnish. Try a search. Give the client a can of the spray kind and give them the date and basic instructions. If you screw it up, just wipe it all off with turpentine and start over. I could go into the whole process, but I think I already have before, somewhere in this forum.

Bendaini
03-15-2002, 10:45 PM
Two reasons they dont do it

1. they dont know about varnish and the pro's and con's

2. they dont want to leave a painting sitting for 6-12 months waiting to be varnished..

or i suppose 3... both...