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rebob
04-11-2002, 12:14 AM
I broke down and varnished some paintings today, and there really is a difference when it comes to color intensity and depth!

Since I'm lazy by nature, I used Grumbacher's gloss Damar spray varnish. (the politics of San Francisco being what they are, I actually had to drive to the next county to get it (at Michael's - $$$ ugh...that's because "spray paint" can't be sold here)

Obviously, this isn't very cost effective, so I would like to do it the old fashioned way with a brush.

I really would like to know what type of brush is best for varnishing oil paintings.

Appreciate your help!

Bob

TPS
04-11-2002, 09:53 AM
How about a varnishing brush. Only buy high quality natural bristle ones, 2 or 3 inch wide. Go to your local paint store, hardware or building supply to find them. You'll pay around $20 for a good one. They can be identified by rather short length compared to width, rather thin, very soft hair, and the edge is not very sharply cut.

vallarta
04-14-2002, 08:04 PM
Doing a good job of varnishing brush is tough!!!!!!!!

If you try it ...then dilute the varnish and give it several coats rather than one coat. Put each coat on the painting with a large brush....a good one...and each coat in a different direction.

If your varnishing over an oil painting I would first oil out the painting and then let it dry. If it still has "dry spots" then oil it again and keep repeating till it looks uniform and then let it dry.

then varnish

vallarta

rebob
04-14-2002, 08:28 PM
If your varnishing over an oil painting I would first oil out the painting and then let it dry. If it still has "dry spots" then oil it again and keep repeating till it looks uniform and then let it dry.

then varnish

vallarta, that is a good suggestion. I suppose we're not talking 6 months or so between oiling out coats are we?

Bob

Einion
04-19-2002, 06:36 PM
Vallarta what is the point of oiling out before varnishing when one of varnishing's intended goals is the evening out of surface gloss?

Oiling out is not a technique to get into the habit of using if one can avoid it, especially on a finished painting you're just about to varnish. As I've said before oiling out deposits a layer of linseed oil on the surface of the painting, with no protection from pigment, where it will yellow faster and more than the layers underneath it. And in this case you then have to wait for it to fully oxidise before varnishing, with no way of determining how long it's going to take!


Bob, depending on the surface finish of your work the varnish should be thinned to the appropriate level and only one coat might be sufficient but two thin coats is better than one thick one. Remember though, the more coats you apply, the more chance of a problem like clouding, runs, wrinkling etc. There are three methods that can be used to apply varnish: spraygun, swab and brush. Obviously spraygun is not an option for most of us and it's very tricky to do well anyway so brushing is the best option, although swabbing has a lot to recommend it if you can learn to do it right (and your work is not too textural).

You should try to varnish in as few layers as possible and the coat does not have to be thick - don't think woodwork here. Conservators, who probably varnish more skillfully and carefully than anyone, use a coating as thin as possible for a number of reasons but the important ones are to avoid problems like those mentioned above, minimal discolouration when the varnish yellows and ease of removal.

Varnishing by brush is not the easiest task and I would recommend reading up a bit if you want to do it well. Good varnish brushes are usually made from hog bristle but horsehair and synthetics are also available, all of which are used by pros depending on their preferences. There are numerous variations on technique for spirit varnishes, some people recommend laying the varnish on as smoothly as possible and then leaving it, while others say you should "lay off" or brush out the coat to even it up. Brushing out alone has two major schools of thought: one preferring short criss-cross strokes; the other long, light strokes from one edge of the canvas to the other. Even then there are some guides that recommend using the application brush for this while others a special badger brush like those used for some decorative painting effects... so you can see it is not as straightforward as it might at first appear. Iím not trying to put you off, but like most things, it's worth learning to do well.

Regardless of which method you settle on I would practice on smaller pieces before moving up to your best and largest.

Einion

timelady
04-20-2002, 06:30 AM
I'm not an expert but from my limited experience would really recommend you get a good varnishing brush. I varnished smaller works with a normal hogshair. I've recently bought a nice wide Whistler varnishing brush to do some very large canvases and it's wonderful! I can't believe how different it is - very soft and the edges are all a bit frayed. Looks kind of like split ends in your hair (well, mine at least :)). The Whistler was £10 but well worth it, I did the first thin layer on 3 paintings with no trouble. I'm using a varnish that is soluble in turps/mineral spirits, and it recommended to thin with about 20-30% mineral spirits for thin layers.

Tina.