View Full Version : oil-based varnishes

03-21-2008, 08:16 PM
Hello everyone:wave:
I have a question about oil based varnsihes. Actually I have three questions. first, Can you use an oil based varnish with ops?

Second, If so , with a brush, or spray on, or does it not matter?

Third, can you use an oil based varnish to layer with ops to get richer colors?

I have been told that you can't use acrylic based medium on top of oil pastels because over time, the acrylic with seperate an peel. Any thoughts , comments, experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,

Pat Isaac
03-22-2008, 09:32 AM
Reeta, I am going to move this to the talk forum.
I have never used a varnish on my OPs and am not sure what would happen. I guess I would like to know why you want to do this? Are you talking about a final varnish? I think if you used it between layers you might run into trouble.
Others might know more about it.


03-22-2008, 02:21 PM
Hi Pat,
I was thinking of doing this so for a couple of reasons. First, I was wondering if I could obtain richer colors by layering with it to build up color. I tried using an acrylic mat medium to build up color and really liked the effect. However, as I mentioned, I was told I would run into trouble with the acrylic on top of the op. (peeling, cracking, etc.) When you say you think I might run into trouble layering with an oil based varnish, are you talking about the same kind of trouble?
also, some of my pieces are done on canvas, so I thought it might be nice to try a varnish so that I wouldn't have to frame them behind glass, and also to add some luster.
Any thoughts, advice , experience is appreciated!
Thanks, REeta

03-22-2008, 02:31 PM
Hi Pat,
I was thinking about using a varnish for a couple of reasons. First, I thought I might be able to build up better layers of color. I tried using an acrylic mat medium to do this and liked the effect, However, as I mentioned ,I was told that I would run into trouble using acrylic over the op. (cracking , peeling, etc.) Is that the same kind of trouble you're thinking of with an oil based varnish?

Secondly, I have some pieces that I have done on canvas, and I thought I might try using a varnish so that I don't have to frame them under glass, and also to add some luster.

Any thoughts, comments, experience, would be greatly appreciated! thanks, Reeta:)

03-22-2008, 04:28 PM
Hi Reeta,

I'm just experimenting with varnishes at the moment (and I will post some further results later on this week or as soon as the weather here is good enough to take a couple of photos.) All that I can say for now is: it is difficult to fix/varnish OPs.
You can achieve a layer that feels immediately "touch-dry" by using an retouching varnish or the sennelier OP fixative, but this layer usually cannot stand hard pressure with an OP on top of it.
If you want to protect an OP painting on canvas I can recommend to you the following process: apply one or two layers of sennelier OP fixative and on top of that one or two layers of acrylic varnish. It works. (But I cannot guarantee for its archival quallities!)

Hope this information is helpful to you.

Pat Isaac
03-22-2008, 04:38 PM
The problem as I see it with using a varnish between layers is that the OPs are not dry and you may run into trouble doing that. I can't say for sure as I have never done that. You night try it on some scrap paper first to see what happens. The jury is still out on a final fix for OPs. Experiments are being done.


03-22-2008, 04:59 PM
Reeta: I don't really anything about oil-based varnishes. Do they contain solvent? If so, that might create a problem - wouldn't the solvent start dissolving the OP? :eek:

I have used Sennelier OP fixative, which they also describe as a varnish. It's especially made for OPs, and I found it can be used between layers as well, although I don't know if that's an archival method, or is recommended by the Sennelier folks. Just thinking about it logically though, it's likely to be more successful than applying any acrylic or other drying sort of product between OP layers because the Senn fixative is made of vinyl, and therefore more likely to flex with the OP layers. It can be quite glossy (depends on the number of coats), which I personally didn't care for, but it did seem to heighten the OP color, so you might like it. I have the old pump spray bottle version; the new product is said to be improved from that, although I don't know exactly what's been improved. Silvia's right though, the fixative doesn't protect an OP piece from damage the way an oil painting is protected once dry and varnished.

I noticed there are a couple of new fixatives for OP on the Dakota Pastels website (http://www.dakotapastels.com/index_oilpastels.shtml) (http://www.dakotapastels.com/index_oilpastels.shtml%29), although I don't know anything about them personally. Also, there are several pdfs available for download on the Oil Pastel Society website that describe methods for framing without glass. Best wishes on finding what you're looking for.

03-23-2008, 09:51 PM
Hi Reeta,

I think you will find the oil varnish will dissolve your OP painting. I tried some on an OP several years back and that's what happened. I was using a brush and thought it was working at first because the first swipe of varnish went on ok. But the 2nd swipe with the brush moved the colors around. It took a few seconds for the varnish to dissolve the OP. Once that happened any subsequent brushing was like brushing on paint stripper. I suggest if you are going to try using a varnish that you experiment on a scratch sheet of OP first. Spray varnish might be doable in thin coats, if left to dry between coats, although I haven't tried that. So no idea if it really works. But be careful!

03-24-2008, 07:57 AM
Thanks Pat, Sylvia, Annie and Paul,
I've continued to experiment since I wrote this post and have had no luck.
Looks like I'll continue to frame under glass for the time being. Thanks again for responding, Reeta

Pat Isaac
03-24-2008, 08:16 AM
Probably the best idea for now, reeta.