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View Full Version : Acrylic Varnishing Beginner-help needed.


DCW
09-09-2008, 02:22 AM
I just finished my very first acrylic painting. I am going to varnish it with Liquites High-Gloss. Questions:

What sort of brush do I need to apply the varnish?

What do I do to keep the brush strokes fromwhowing (I don't have a sprayer)?

Many thanks in advance.

Antony Burt
09-09-2008, 08:20 AM
Congratulations on your first acrylic painting. It's a good choice to varnish it. Not only do the colours enrich, but you protect the painting from light damage.

I use a wide synthetic flat brush. Somepeople use the sponge brushes available from hardware stores. I've read it recommended that any good housepaint brush could work well (there are some with frayed ends which help eliminate brush marks.) Whatever type of brush, just use one wide enough to allow you to work the area quickly and with ease. Dedicate the brush(es) to varnish use only.

Brush strokes should not be a worry. The varnish flows well so it does not keep the brush marks. Don't put it on too thick to pool or run, or overwork an area, and you should be fine.

idylbrush
09-09-2008, 01:14 PM
just a bit more to think about. Use a barrier layer of gloss medium, two coats. Allow to dry for several days and then varnish. Consider a removable UV varnish and dilute with water by 20%. (if it is that type) and then brush using as few brush strokes as possible.

Golden(www.goldenpaints.com) has some excellent articles on varnishing as does Liquitex.

DCW
09-09-2008, 01:31 PM
First, thank you both for the valuable help.

just a bit more to think about. Use a barrier layer of gloss medium, two coats. Allow to dry for several days and then varnish. Consider a removable UV varnish and dilute with water by 20%. (if it is that type) and then brush using as few brush strokes as possible.

What an answer!! I wish that I could appreciate the mechanics of it better.

What is the function of the barrier layer, and why use gloss medium for the barrier, as opposed to high-gloss varnish? Wouldn't the result be the same?

Antony Burt
09-09-2008, 01:35 PM
Excellent point. If you use a removable varnish, you must use a intermediate barrier in between your painting and the removable varnish. Otherwise your painting will be destroyed if the varnish is ever removed.

When using a permanent varnish, no intermediate layer is needed (as it can not be removed.)

For Liquitex, the best protection is the removable varnish, which is non-porous and has UV protection. It is mineral spirits based.
The permanent varnish is still slightly porous and does not contain UV protection, but it is water based and still provides good protection.

halthepainter
09-09-2008, 01:40 PM
You might want to test a practice piece with your gloss varnish. The gloss is a bit too, too for my taste and I use a mat varnish. There is no hurry about varnishing. You can show it without the varnish if that is your wish. Most of the acrylic varnishes are not removable so you may want to follow Idylbrush's advice and look for a removable varnish.

susme48
09-09-2008, 02:16 PM
Uh oh...if I did NOT use an intermediate barrier, is there anything I can do now???? or is it totally too late?

I enjoy learning, but these mistakes of mine are getting frustrating....:lol: First I framed them touching the glass...lucked out there and got them out safely and reframed. Now, what do I do about having varnished with Kumar reworkable or WN removeable spray varnish??

Each time I think I have moved at least slightly passed the newbie stage....I find out how much I still don't know...sigh.

RPut
09-09-2008, 02:23 PM
I use a spray varnish. Guess I go for the simple version.
But, I did recently see a piece that looked to have a brushed on varnish and the varied brush strokes were interesting and so I tried it on a smaller piece and really like it. I suppose it will depend on what effect you want. Each piece has it's different personality.....

pacmanJohn
09-09-2008, 04:24 PM
I use Krylon Kamar Varnish. I spray from about two feet away, progressing down from top to bottom with a bit of overlap. I then turn the painting on its side and do the same again. Dries very quickly. Everyone else is correct in that you cannot modify the painting once you've done this step, so you better be pleased with it, and make sure it's signed first ;).

DCW
09-09-2008, 04:52 PM
Excellent point. If you use a removable varnish, you must use a intermediate barrier in between your painting and the removable varnish. Otherwise your painting will be destroyed if the varnish is ever removed.

When using a permanent varnish, no intermediate layer is needed (as it can not be removed.)

For Liquitex, the best protection is the removable varnish, which is non-porous and has UV protection. It is mineral spirits based.
The permanent varnish is still slightly porous and does not contain UV protection, but it is water based and still provides good protection.

I guess what I meant to ask was, could the high gloss varnish be used instead of the gloss medium as a "Barrier Layer" to the removable varnish?

AMuse
09-09-2008, 05:01 PM
I guess what I meant to ask was, could the high gloss varnish be used instead of the gloss medium as a "Barrier Layer" to the removable varnish?

No.

the "Barrier Layer " or Isolation Coat is meant to separate the paint from the varnish. so if you use a varnish for the Isolation coat it will be stuck right to the paint. then if for some reason down the road you need to clean or repair the painting and have to remove the varnish you will remove the paint too. the Isolation Coat gives the paint some protection from the removal process.

DCW
09-09-2008, 05:16 PM
No.

the "Barrier Layer " or Isolation Coat is meant to separate the paint from the varnish. so if you use a varnish for the Isolation coat it will be stuck right to the paint. then if for some reason down the road you need to clean or repair the painting and have to remove the varnish you will remove the paint too. the Isolation Coat gives the paint some protection from the removal process.

Won't the gloss varnish be stuck right to the paint if I use it, instead of the gloss medium, between the paint and the removable varnish layer?

AMuse
09-09-2008, 05:18 PM
yes it will be. Which is fine, as long as you never have the desire to remove it or have to clean it extensively.

Blick Art Materials
09-09-2008, 05:22 PM
The Liquitex High Gloss Varnish is a permanent varnish. It is non-removable. Because of this, a barrier coat is not needed. You could, on future pieces, paint a barrier coat with the Gloss Medium and then apply an Archival Removable Varnish such as Liquitex Soluvar. This is a solvent based varnish which cleans up and removes with Mineral Spirits or Turpentine.

Tina B

AMuse
09-09-2008, 05:27 PM
:-) thanks for clearing that up Tina.

I was just talking about you guys today! I got your Fall Sale catalog and want to buy almost everything in it! LOL

DCW
09-09-2008, 05:35 PM
That's not what I'm asking. I'm going to use Soluvar as the final varnish.

What I am asking is if it matters whether I use Gloss Medium or High Gloss Permanent Varnish as a "Barrier Medium," or if either one would be fine if used in that capacity?

AMuse
09-09-2008, 05:39 PM
That's not what I'm asking. I'm going to use Soluvar as the final varnish.

What I am asking is if it matters whether I use Gloss Medium or High Gloss Permanent Varnish as a "Barrier Medium," or if either one would be fine if used in that capacity?

You can't use a permanent varnish as a barrier layer. because it is a varnish and will bind to the paint.

If Soluvar is a removable varnish then you should use the gloss medium as a barrier layer.

Golden's gloss medium suggests thinning the gloss gel meduim 2:1 with water for an isolation coat.

If Soluvar is a permanent varnish then you won't need an isolation coat (or barrier layer) before applying.

DCW
09-09-2008, 05:41 PM
You can't use a permanent varnish as a barrier layer. because it is a varnish and will bind to the paint.

If Soluvar is a removable varnish then you should use the gloss medium as a barrier layer.

Golden's gloss medium suggests thinning the gloss gel meduim 2:1 with water for an isolation coat.

If Soluvar is a permanent varnish then you won't need an isolation coat (or barrier layer) before applying.

Thanks. You rock.

Blick Art Materials
09-09-2008, 05:52 PM
Both the Gloss medium and the High Gloss Varnish will bond permanently to the paint. (Polymer fuses to polymer) The reason you want to add the medium is so that it protects the actual paint layer from future varnish removal. (Whomever removes the varnish would have to eat through one to two layers of medium before they ever got to your painting.) You could use either the High Gloss or the Gloss Medium. The High Gloss just isn't necessary since you are going to cover it up!

Tina B

DCW
09-09-2008, 05:57 PM
Both the Gloss medium and the High Gloss Varnish will bond permanently to the paint. (Polymer fuses to polymer) The reason you want to add the medium is so that it protects the actual paint layer from future varnish removal. (Whomever removes the varnish would have to eat through one to two layers of medium before they ever got to your painting.) You could use either the High Gloss or the Gloss Medium. The High Gloss just isn't necessary since you are going to cover it up!

Tina B

The reason I wanted to substitute was that I want this painting to look really, really slick and plasticky. However, I'll just use the gloss medium, since I really don't know what I'm doing yet, and it is the most recommended method.

Thank you.

Another question: How long after the painting's dry may I begin to apply the medium? I touched up the corners of the panel today, but haven't otherwise applied paint since Sunday.

Blick Art Materials
09-09-2008, 06:25 PM
Typically, it is recommended to wait from 3-5 days. If it isn't dry you could pull up the paint layer and the medium would end up with a scumbled look. (This would be impossible to undo.) After applying the Gloss Medium you will have to wait at least another 1 - 3 days before applying the final varnish. Of course, if your painting is thin and it is not humid, you can probably cut off a couple of days. I'm a believer of 'better safe than sorry'...so I recommend at least 5 days!

Tina B

JamesDFarrow
09-09-2008, 07:18 PM
Uh oh...if I did NOT use an intermediate barrier, is there anything I can do now???? or is it totally too late?

I enjoy learning, but these mistakes of mine are getting frustrating....:lol: First I framed them touching the glass...lucked out there and got them out safely and reframed. Now, what do I do about having varnished with Kumar reworkable or WN removeable spray varnish??

Each time I think I have moved at least slightly passed the newbie stage....I find out how much I still don't know...sigh.

So you have paint, and then only a removable varnish?

Well you can treat that varnish layer as a isolation layer, and now put a non-removable isolation layer (gel or varnish) on top of that, then a removable layer of varnish on top of that as your last coat.

You will just end up with two isolation layers instead of just one.

As long as the layer under the last removable varnish is non-removable it will end up O.K.

James :)

Bizkit
09-09-2008, 07:21 PM
I actually mix Satin varnish with Gloss varnish...I like the finish. I apply with a 2" sponge brush, one or two coats and Im there.

JamesDFarrow
09-09-2008, 07:28 PM
For the other issue, the isolation layer (whether you use gel medium or permanent varnish - it doesn't matter) will adhere to the paint. It is supposed to. You don't want this layer to be ever removed. It becomes part of your painting.

Now the last layer on top of the isolation layer should be removable. The reason being is that when you want to deep clean the painting you have the top layer (with the dirt on it) removed. And the chemical they use won't remove the permanent isolation layer and therefor your painting is protected. Once cleaned you apply another new top coat of removavble varnish. For the next time you want it cleaned.

James :)

JamesDFarrow
09-09-2008, 07:52 PM
Almost forgot,

When using different varnishes, lacquers, whatever, make sure they are compatable with each other and your paint.

Mixing different varnishes, that may have different chemical bases, together can really end up a chemical time bomb sometimes and have disastrous results.

The best, and safest, way to go is with the Liquitex suggestions previously mentioned. They have been proven to work well together with no reported problems.

James :)

awerth
09-09-2008, 10:00 PM
For some additional information, there was a thread a few weeks ago that includes some detailed instructions on how to varnish an acrylic painting:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=513090&highlight=varnish

DCW
09-09-2008, 10:31 PM
Thank you all.

Antony Burt
09-10-2008, 10:41 AM
You can't use a permanent varnish as a barrier layer. because it is a varnish and will bind to the paint.


According all the instructions regarding Soluvar you should use Gloss Medium/Varnish as a barrier coat, but actually Permanent Varnish can be used.

Here is what Liquitex said about using Permanent Gloss Varnish with Soluvar:

"The principal reason for the barrier varnish is so that the mineral spirits doesn't remove paint during the varnish removal process. It also gives color protection from the solvents in the Soluvar.

You can use Gloss Medium and Varnish or regular Permanent Gloss Varnish as a barrier. There is no adverse effect. You are also creating the recommended clear acrylic barrier before applying the Soluvar."