View Full Version : *POP* goes the rainbow

08-20-2002, 11:02 PM
My question is simple; After your oil painting has dried, what do you put on it to make those colours pop again??

I've been finding to my horror that as the oil paint tries the colours seam to go dull. Would some sort of varnish or fixative be good for putting on finished paintings to bring out the colour? Any tips about when it is a good time to apply it after finishing? I am quite interested in knowing, as this whole aspect of my colours dying is driving me insane!

08-21-2002, 12:18 AM
I'm sure someone here can give you even more details on this than I can, but I HIGHLY recommend varnishing your paintings as the way to get the colors to be rich and vibrant. In some cases, they'll look better than they ever did while they were wet.

In general, it is recommended that you wait three months before varnishing an oil painting to let the paint fully oxidize. This is called 'off-gassing,' and if you don't wait, it could affect the longevity of your painting. If you don't care about giving it time to fully dry and oxidize, you might could varnish it after about three months.

The other thing I know you need to keep in mind is this: don't let the painting get dusty before you varnish it!! Varnishing it will make the dust show more, AND you'll have just glued that dust to the canvas.

I'd suggest dusting it somewhat regularly (once a month maybe, depending on how dusty the environment is) and then when you've waited four or five or the full six months, dust it really well again, and then varnish it.

I assure you, you'll be shocked and startled at how rich the colors will become. I use a lot of black and dark reds in some of my paintings, and they tend to look almost the same once they're dried and dull, but the varnish makes it look beautifully creepy.

Hope that helps!!


08-21-2002, 12:23 AM
axl, quite common when different pigments dry on your painting. it is the nature of pigments, not all equal. Lot more pleasant to look at with a uniform lustre of paint film. Varnish solves the problem and brings all to the same lustre value. Most common, damar varnish, other work as well..........L

08-21-2002, 12:32 AM
P.S. I'm sure there are hundreds of threads about the pros and cons of varnishing that have already gone by. I found one that had some good info:

early WC varnishing thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=50945)

08-21-2002, 12:45 AM
thankyou for your comments! You are very helpful to one who knows nothing of this sort of thing *g* I had no idea it actually took oil paintings soooo long to dry either!

All of this reminds me of another question I ment to ask, however I will probably find the answer the next time I go to the art store but anyways....
Is this Varnish like a Spray Fixative, or does it come in like a paint can like wood varnish you use on your deck? That I've also been wondering about.

08-21-2002, 01:04 AM
I've always used varnish in bottle...Damar usually, and I paint it on with a really nice brush that doesn't shed hairs, cuz they'll end up permanent attachments to my painting!

However, as far as I know, spray varnish is available, as well. There's a thread going on right now about varnishing particularly thickly painted paintings, and how to handle the peaks and valleys that exist. In a case like that, spray varnish may be more appropriate. Keep an eye on that thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=55947) , as well.

I don't know if one is considered better than the other by the general artist populous. your mileage may vary, but for me, I found paint-on varnish to work great.


08-21-2002, 04:49 PM
okay, thankyou david you're a doll :D And so impolite of me too... welcome to wc! Thanx for your answers :D

big john gronning
08-21-2002, 08:42 PM
Hello, try looking up what they use to fix the master peices, I know it is some sort of varnish but they may have a great recipee for a better job, that would be cheeper then buying the expensive stuff.

08-31-2002, 08:19 PM
sorry, I got distracted and didn't come back to check on this thread.

wasn't trying to be unresponsive.
.........you are very welcome.

and thanks for the welcoming!


09-01-2002, 12:25 PM
Spray vs brush on..... Yes, as Wayne said if the painting has a lot of serious texture the aerosol can be good for getting into valleys or crevices, otherwise i have found that brushing it on gives a much more uniform finish. I use Damar and a really good brush, which is never used for paint.