View Full Version : About varnishing gouache

Old Tex
05-14-2007, 01:39 PM
The question about varnishing or fixing gouache has come up a couple of times, and the experiences and responses have pretty much been all over the place. I just rediscovered one of my old western art favorites: Gordon Snidow. I had forgotten (or never realized) his entire career has been spent working in gouache. He's always worked on illustration board, and varnishes every painting. I bought a can of Krylon Kamar Varnish and tried it over the weekend on a couple of my rejects. I sprayed the first coat on the first one, then went inside to let it dry. Went back out and discovered it had rained! The illustration board, which was lying on a piece of newspaper, had curled, but the water spots were sitting on top of the varnish and nothing appeared to have penetrated.

Tried it again on a second piece, but this time laid it flat in the garage so it would stay dry. Checked it a couple of hours later, and it was just as flat as when I sprayed it (no curl at all). Checked it on my way out this morning, and it still looked good. I'm going to apply several coats and give it a month or so, but so far I'm pretty please. It gives it a shiny finish, like a little varnished oil painting which doesn't require glass (which I prefer for my work), and really does bring the original color back out.

Just thought I'd share this.

05-15-2007, 06:15 PM
Thanks, Ralph!

Makes me want to try it out. I've spray-fixed a couple mixed media pieces with gouache in them, but I guess I didn't put enough on, since it still rubbed off when I touched it.

If this stuff keeps rain away, surely it'll repel my fingerprints.

Dale Ziegler
05-16-2007, 09:24 PM
Tex. I like the satin matte look of guoache. Have you tried any matte or satin varnishes. I wonder if acrylic varnishes would work? DALE

Old Tex
05-17-2007, 09:15 AM
I haven't yet, Dale. Personally, I like the "little oil painting" look that the glossier varnish gives me. But, I'll probably try the others as well. I just want to eliminate the mat and glass, so the work can be framed like a traditional painting.

Thanks for the suggestion!

05-17-2007, 12:28 PM
I use Claybord Fixative and Golden Archival Varnish (Gloss) on my watercolor, gouache and casein paintings and it is just fine on both paper or claybord. I did not notice any color changes. Of course i spray them outside and let them sit awhile so the varnish is dry before bringing them inside.

Richard Saylor
05-18-2007, 03:47 AM
I've used Kamar varnish on watermedia paintings. If you send handpainted holiday cards, I would suggest using it to protect the card from the elements. It produces a somewhat glossy finish, and it is removeable with mineral spirits, I believe. Some people prefer the extremely matte finish of gouache and watercolor, and just about any varnish will add a little gloss.

maggie latham
05-18-2007, 07:51 AM

Good morning!

Wow, What a great subject!

I have used Liquitex acrylic varnish in matt and gloss. Do not confuse this with the mediums as the varnish is thinner. It is a little bit tricky, as the painting has to be completely dry, and you must use a soft flat (newish) watercolor brush of an inch or more, and the brush needs to be dry or rung out very well. I lay it on in same direction strokes, a very light touch. Angels kisses light strokes! Once dry, I lay another coat on in the opposite direction. I alternate one layer gloss and one layer matt, or mix gloss and matt together on a plate to knock back the gloss look of the finish. It takes a little practice so donít try it on one of your favorites. It works particularly well for smaller works. I do this to some of my watercolors also, especially for original greetings cards. I have also done this to sell unframed pastels, but you have to fix the pastel very well with a final fix first.

I have also used Golden UV spray varnishes (expensive!) in mat, satin and gloss, but have found it is very difficult to get an even spray, and it is toxic even when sprayed outside. It also takes a couple of hours to dry in between applications.

I did call Liquitex about using acrylic varnish over water media, and the response was that it was archival in longevity (not archival in being able to reverse the process for paint correction in years to come).

I am in two minds about all this! I love the fact that I can varnish either a watercolor, gouache or pastel, however it is changing the INTENT of the medium, and changing it into something else. It is important to me to not misrepresent what I am selling, so I always explain exactly the products I have used on my bio sheet or label.

For those of you using mixed media, this method of finishing is particularly suited to Wallis pastel paper~ although the Wallis paper does chew up your brushes. I have layered acrylic varnish (gloss first to pop the colors, then mat) over very fixed pastel paintings, and the painting looks like an oil. This is the only way I can sell unframed, matted pastel originals in clear bags, with out worrying about the piece getting damaged.

I am looking forward to more discussion about this.



maggie latham
05-18-2007, 08:12 AM

I have just cross-threaded this in the pastel talk forum.