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View Full Version : Varnishing issues before the 6 month drying time...


LJart
11-19-2009, 08:32 AM
Hi, I'm so glad this sub-forum exists, as I have recently started working with Winsor and Newton Artisan water soluable oils, and I think they're great! However, I'm having some issues with what varnish to use...

I have a painting I completed a few months ago, so still cannot varnish it as it hasn't had the full 6 months drying time. I would like to use a retouch varnish to even out the surface and protect it, as I would like to give it as a gift to a family member as well, but wasn't sure if there was a retouch varnish to be used on these parrticular paints yet. After researching fruitlessly, I emailed Winsor and Newton, and they confirmed that the paints are not intended to be used with a retouch varnish, although they have developed a more permanent varnish for use after 6 months specifically for use with these paints.

This seems slightly odd to me, surely as they work so similarly to traditional oils, I can't be the only one wanting to use a retouch varnish on them? So has anyone else wanted to varnish before the painting is completely dry, and what soloutions have you found or might suggest?

MissVermeer
11-19-2009, 08:42 PM
I have exactly the same problem, I emailed W&N about using retouch varnish on my painting, but did not get a response.
I am wondering what "not intended to use" means... I will do a test piece and see what happens.. will keep you posted.

mawdwyn
11-20-2009, 12:59 AM
I wonder if they mean not to use it while in the painting process (like between layers). I've been putting retouch varnish on my finished wm oils (Artisans) for years, and so far, so good! I just assumed, once they're dry, they're like traditional oils. I wait a few weeks until the surface feels dry - not tacky, then use a soft brush to apply (usually) 2 light coats of re-touch.

I never gave it a second thought, since I've always varnished my paintings (whether trad. or wm). Just slapped the re-touch on, so I wouldn't get impatient to put the final varnish on too soon. :)

Anyone else have any experience with this?

Callie

LJart
11-20-2009, 06:49 AM
I think I was trying to be too brief with my description of what they said, so here is the full reply they emailed me:


Retouching varnish was not designed to be used with Artisan and we have not tested for this, so it would not be something we can recommend or condemn.

If you did decide to try it, I would suggest that you use on a trial piece of work.

Also the Artisan acrylic varnishes have not been tested over the retouching varnish, so I would suggest that the painting is not varnished for at least 6 months (our usual advice) even with Artisan varnishes as there is a possibility of moving the paint underneath slightly if the painting is not completely dry. If after at least 2 months retouching varnish is used, then once dry a conventional removable solvent varnish such as Artistsí Gloss or Matt, or ConservArt Gloss, would be my recommendation.

Retouching Varnish is simply a dilute form of Artists gloss Varnish. The idea is that because it gives a much thinner varnish film than final varnishes such as Artistsí Gloss and Matt and ConservArt Gloss, it is sufficiently permeable to allow oxygen to get to the paint film and complete the drying process.

The problem here is that the thicker the oil colour, the more slowly it will dry and if the Retouching Varnish is applied too liberally it may still interfere with the drying if applied too soon.

It is to avoid these problems that we advise waiting as long as possible before applying a Retouching Varnish, at least a month, and applying it in a single THIN coat.

Kind regards,
Helena

IT does seem odd to me that they would overlook such an obvious area of the paints use, in that we would need to retouch them. My concern about using traditional varnish was highlighted particularly by the fact that they have developed a varnish for use after 6 months specifically for use with these paints, which made me think that using traditional varnish could be wrong, but I think maybe these new varnishs are perhaps just less toxic in keeping with the theme, traditional oils may not allow artisan varnish to be used, but the other way around is fine.

I think if you've been using traditional with no problems, mawdwyn, this helps to confirm that they're fine to use, just the new ones are a less toxic version. Thanks for your replies guys, it really helps to get some feedback! =)

DAK723
11-20-2009, 01:43 PM
There is a long standing debate about retouching varnish. Many believe that it should be used only as a temporary varnish to be used, as in your case, when you want to varnish before 6 months. The belief is that varnishes should not become part of the paint layer and that you should use oil (usually mixed with solvent - perhaps 50-50) when you want to refresh (or oil out) a painting. Others think that using retouch varnish to oil out is perfectly OK, especially given that it is called retouch varnish.

Your reply from W&N seems to indicate that they also believe that retouch varnish is for varnishing finished paintings not oiling out paintings that are still being worked on, or not yet dry. So, I believe you would have no trouble using the retouch varnish now.

And, as many painters do, you can ask the person who receives the painting if they will allow you to borrow back the painting after 6 or more months to put on the final varnish.

Don

Potoma
11-22-2009, 11:46 AM
Does anyone use Kamar by Krylon?

The pros use it on regular oils as soon as the painting's not tacky, so after maybe a week. The theory is that the acrylic spray binds and cures along with the oils. Otherwise, you have to wait until the oil has dried to put the spray or other varnish on.

I'm new to WMOs, but continuing with Kamar is what I plan until I learn otherwise. It makes a painting ready to show/sell pretty quickly.

PS - I generally work alla prima, so I am clueless about retouch stuff.

greywolf-art
11-22-2009, 12:02 PM
never heard of kamar, sounds like good stuff if it can be applied after one week :)

MissVermeer
11-22-2009, 07:51 PM
This is the reply I got from W&N regarding application of retouch varnish:

"Instead of a retouch varnish layer, you may want to instead use a process called "oiling out" to bring the gloss finish back to your oil paint layers. Oiling out replaces the oil from your upper layers that has sunken into the underlayer, causing a flat or matt appearance on your surface. Oiling out will also give your paint layer a bit of flexibility, something the layer will need, especially as it is painted over the more flexible acrylic. To oil out, apply a VERY VERY small amount of the Artisan Painting Medium to a clean, lint free rag and gently rub or buff the dull areas of your painting with the rag. Wipe any excess medium off of the surface and wait 24 hours to see if the process needs to be repeated. This will give your painting a uniform surface sheen but will not provide any protection to the paint layer. You should also know that your surface may be slow drying after oiling out.
You could apply the retouch varnish after about 4 weeks - try to wait as long as possible, wait at the very least, 4 weeks - the retouch varnish will give you some protection, and will unify the surface sheen."


The rest of the email is irrelevant.


So, it looks like different people at W&N give different advise.
As I said, I will do a testpiece.

dcorc
11-23-2009, 08:12 AM
Varnishes impede the drying of oil-paint, by impeding diffusion of oxygen from the atmosphere into the paint-film. One is thus advised to avoid varnishing until the paint-film is well-cured at 6 months to a year. Furthermore, if you use a natural-resin varnish such as damar, early varnishing may allow cross-linkage of the resin into the paint-film, making it more difficult to subsequently remove.

Using retouch varnish as a temporary top-coat on a finished painting is a compromise because, being thinner, it will impede curing much less, while giving the painting surface some protection.

In the case of WMO, a further complication is added, depending on whether or not you have added water to the paint. When water is added, WMOs must lose that by evaporation, as well as curing by oxidation. Water is very considerably less volatile than the solvents used with conventional oil-paints, and thus is likely to take considerably longer to be lost from the paint-film. In the "chemistry, patents" thread here, I give some links to discussions of the physical properties of the paint-film, particularly the finding that it is typically softer than a conventional-oil-paint-film while curing.

I suspect that the advice is to do with the need to lose water from the paint-film on those occasions where it has been used. Furthermore, one of the well-recognised problems when varnishing conventional oils is that the presence of moisture can be a cause of "bloom" in the varnish (that is, the varnish appears milky, rather than clear). If using a varnish designed for conventional oils, this would be another good reason for wanting to ensure that the paint-film is well-dried before varnishing. A water-miscible varnish might mitigate this issue?

Kamar by Krylon...The pros use it on regular oils as soon as the painting's not tacky, so after maybe a week. The theory is that the acrylic spray binds and cures along with the oils. Otherwise, you have to wait until the oil has dried to put the spray or other varnish on.

Err - actually, "the pros" mostly don't. Kamar's Crystal Clear can be used on a wet/tacky oil-painting to rapidly achieve a tack-free surface, but this is an illustrator's trick, used to meet a short deadline for reproduction of the painting, and not something to be recommended for fine-art usage.

The belief is that varnishes should not become part of the paint layer and that you should use oil (usually mixed with solvent - perhaps 50-50) when you want to refresh (or oil out) a painting. Others think that using retouch varnish to oil out is perfectly OK,

There are two different circumstances when using a varnish between paint-layers - one is to use a varnish which really separates the paint-layers, and this is called an isolating varnish. Hard-resin varnishes may be used for this such as copal or amber, applied very thinly. The other circumstance is using a retouching varnish comprised of a soft resin to bring up gloss between sessions - the thing about a retouch varnish is that application of the new paint-layer should re-solubilise the retouch so it isn't sitting as an intervening isolation layer between paint-layers.

I think maybe these new varnishs are perhaps just less toxic in keeping with the theme, traditional oils may not allow artisan varnish to be used, but the other way around is fine.

I think if you've been using traditional with no problems, mawdwyn, this helps to confirm that they're fine to use, just the new ones are a less toxic version.


Sorry, but from now on, every time someone mentions the word "toxic" in here, I'm going to challenge it, because it contributes to the idea that conventional oil-paints and their associated mediums are somehow unsafe. In fact it is perfectly possible to paint safely with conventional oils, as many many members on this site do. I can understand that WMOs offer a way of painting without solvents for those who wish or need to do so (though conventional oils may be used solvent-free, too). But the continued implication that conventional oils are somehow intrinsically "toxic" is one I'll no longer let go unchallenged.


Dave

MissVermeer
11-23-2009, 02:38 PM
Uhhhh, the more I find out, the more I think I am doing everything wrong.
When I painted my first oil painting with traditional oils about 10 years ago I knew nothing about oils. The painting is still in perfect shape.
I should go back to knowing nothing..:lol:

dcorc
11-23-2009, 02:40 PM
Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. Edgar Degas

:D

Potoma
11-23-2009, 06:21 PM
Err - actually, "the pros" mostly don't. Kamar's Crystal Clear can be used on a wet/tacky oil-painting to rapidly achieve a tack-free surface, but this is an illustrator's trick, used to meet a short deadline for reproduction of the painting, and not something to be recommended for fine-art usage.

I have a thing for going to demos and I always ask this question. This year, I have asked three very highly regarded artists independently, one of whom is a nationally recognized plein air artist of the highest echelon, another who is down a tiny notch from that, and another who is on the cusp of this. All three use Kamar. Everyone I know uses Kamar.

Now I will assume that you will shoot my observation down, but these artists do not use it "as a trick" and are highly successful in their field. I trust their methods enough to employ them.

dcorc
11-23-2009, 06:46 PM
Kamar Varnish and Kamar Crystal Clear are different products. When I said "the pros mostly don't", this was on the basis of the low level of responses on a recent thread discussing Kamar Varnish at another site which is largely comprised of high-end classical realist painters.

kbaxterpackwood
11-23-2009, 11:11 PM
never heard of kamar, sounds like good stuff if it can be applied after one week :)


You can purchase it at your local paint stores such as Sherwin Williams.

Kimberly

kbaxterpackwood
11-23-2009, 11:13 PM
Kamar Varnish and Kamar Crystal Clear are different products. When I said "the pros mostly don't", this was on the basis of the low level of responses on a recent thread discussing Kamar Varnish at another site which is largely comprised of high-end classical realist painters.

there are painting sites other than WC???

K-

LJart
11-26-2009, 07:50 AM
Wow, lots of replies! Seems to be a confusing debate! Miss Vermeer, I think when I emailed them I was clear on the fact I just wanted to varnish a finished painting, so they didn't bother going into other uses of the varnish. I don't think I would want to apply varnish in between layers as I like the feeling of keeping the painting together, but maybe that thought will change as I learn more, and this advice is certainly useful to know!

dcorc, thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed post, it has made me consider the use of the varnish more. Also, my apologies if I caused any offence by using the word toxic. I was just going for the most easy way of describing what I believed to be the difference between the two mediums, as I was trying to have a guess at why the new varnish for WMO's had been created if using normal varnish seemed to be ok as well. As a W&N tech advisor has said themself, "The main point of the Artisan oil line is to offer a toxic-solvent-free oil painting experience." By your reply I see that maybe water has to be treated in a different way during the drying process, as you say it will take longer to evaporate than solvents, which could be another reason for the creation of the new varnish. I think I might try retouch on the painting I have as it has had nearly 4 months to dry already, and if a bloom appears I should be able to remove the varnish again?

My reasoning for using the word 'toxic' was that it has always seemed to me that the invention of water soluble oils was to get around the use of solvents, which on their bottles do have warning stickers of 'harmful' and 'dangerous to the environment.' I myself have used traditional oils for many years, but as my studio is in my flat I switched to something that would allow me to clean my brushes and mix mediums without turps, as that is how I prefer to work.

LJ =)

sros007
02-23-2010, 07:47 AM
water...and oil?????????? water AND oil??? no no no just use acrylic!! i tried THOSE paints once and im sure the painting is still drying somewhere on the trash heap where i threw it after waiting 6 months for it to dry...but seriously...they just don't work, if you want to avoid toxins either just use acrylic it dries instantly and can be varnished straight away...OR learn to use the oil paint straight from the tube, just avoid the paints that have long drying times or lots of chemicals...and thin with a tiny drop of oil...also i clean my brushes with Baby oil im not sure what its called in america but ANY oil will do just dip the brush in oil swish around and it cleans it fully no need for turps or solvents. Also re: Retouch i have had the same trouble with it not drying and found that you really idd have to wait for the paint to dry for a month before applying otherwise it would remain sticky...seemingly forever...so it kind of defeats the purpose because a lot of retouch brands claim that its good to apply straight away but its not you must wait so it kind of defeats the purpose you may as well wait until its totally dry and use a proper varnish....SO the answer of course is the oiling out method...just apply some of your medium on top of a dull later which will shine it up again enough to hang on a wall and if you still have access to it six months later use the proper varnish....re: retouch varnish over water mixable oils...my advice is rethink the water mixable oils not the varnish.

greywolf-art
02-23-2010, 10:46 AM
water...and oil?????????? water AND oil??? no no no just use acrylic!! i tried THOSE paints once and im sure the painting is still drying somewhere on the trash heap where i threw it after waiting 6 months for it to dry...but seriously...they just don't work, if you want to avoid toxins either just use acrylic it dries instantly and can be varnished straight away...OR learn to use the oil paint straight from the tube, just avoid the paints that have long drying times or lots of chemicals...and thin with a tiny drop of oil...also i clean my brushes with Baby oil im not sure what its called in america but ANY oil will do just dip the brush in oil swish around and it cleans it fully no need for turps or solvents. Also re: Retouch i have had the same trouble with it not drying and found that you really idd have to wait for the paint to dry for a month before applying otherwise it would remain sticky...seemingly forever...so it kind of defeats the purpose because a lot of retouch brands claim that its good to apply straight away but its not you must wait so it kind of defeats the purpose you may as well wait until its totally dry and use a proper varnish....SO the answer of course is the oiling out method...just apply some of your medium on top of a dull later which will shine it up again enough to hang on a wall and if you still have access to it six months later use the proper varnish....re: retouch varnish over water mixable oils...my advice is rethink the water mixable oils not the varnish.

Err excuse me but this is a water mixable oils forum - why would we choose to abandon our chosen medium just because YOU had a problem with them, I don't go on the acrylics forum and tell them that they should stop using acrylics because I don't think they are any good so why are you coming in here telling us to use acrylics instead?

if you had a painting that still wasn't dry after 6 months you must have either done something seriously dumb or used some incredibly cheap and nasty brand of paint because my paintings are touch dry within a week at most - and usually in 3-4 days (I use W&N Artisan paints, and seriously - they DO work!)

As it happens I do use Acrylics sometimes, but I prefer painting in oils and always will because of the longer drying times and superior feel of oil paint - both traditional and water miscible, acrylics are just a convenient solution when I require very fast drying times - such as in life painting where I only have an hour to paint anyway :eek:

And whats this nonsense about baby oil? maybe that's why your painting never dried properly! baby oil is not intended for use with paints at all - its for moisturising baby skin :rolleyes:

JamieWG
02-25-2010, 08:10 PM
....... This year, I have asked three very highly regarded artists independently, ...... All three use Kamar. Everyone I know uses Kamar.



Ditto. Most artists I know are using Kamar. I use it sometimes too, or Liquitex Soluvar, but I wait a lot longer than most seem to wait!

Jamie