View Full Version : Varnish?

05-26-2011, 04:15 AM
I have never to this point varnished an acrylic, but read that some of you seem to.

Does it make a difference?

05-26-2011, 05:48 AM
I find that it does Dominic. Most acrylic colours tend to be rather dull when dry and a coat or two of varnish relivens the colours to the vibrance they had during application. The varnish also provides a degree of protection against accumulations of dust and grime. However, not everyone varnishes their acrylic paintings so like all things connected with painting it is question of choice. If you do decide to give varnish a try it is worth going the extra mile and applying an isolation coat between the actual paint surface and the varnish. I use two applications of satin glazing medium for this so that if the painting has to be cleaned in the far future the varnish removing solvents do not directly contact the paint surface.

05-26-2011, 11:09 AM
If you are finished painting and are supremely happy with your result, then apply isolation coats and varnishes. If you still want to fix this or that or expect to completely paint over, then do neither.

05-26-2011, 06:02 PM
There really should be other options than these Dominic as there are other reasons you might not want to varnish although you would normally (a piece done on paper for example would usually not be varnished).

Varnishing is necessary to protect a painting from certain kinds of surface damage - lots more info in some of the past threads on the subject.

Technical note: when creating polls please remember to add a closing date in the Poll Timeout section, immediately under the poll options; two weeks to a month is fairly typical.


05-27-2011, 04:19 AM
Thanks Doug, old hobbyist, and Einion..

Sorry if i am causing you greif, but if you dont know the question, you cant ask the proper questions, and searching for varnish brought up too many threads.. mostly irrelevant

So about this isolation layer, is that just good practice? do I need to make any changes to the painting, if I am to aplly varnish, ie make it a fraction lighter than normal..

You say wouldnt usualy varnish paper, can you give me an example where you might choose to..

Sorry to ask so many Questions but its how we/I learn..

05-27-2011, 07:58 AM
I can't answer the poll.
Sometimes would be my answer.
Or if possible.

I usually have a HUGE amount of texture in my paintings, so any varnish would have to be the spray on kind, because the brush on kind on top of so much texture makes nasty bubbles which film up and are not clear when dry.

At the same time I can not use a spray because various areas of the same painting will be very matt and require a matt varnish and others are high gloss, requiring a gloss varnish. And I am not going to mask out the whole painting just to put a varnish in some areas.

If the whole painting was glossy or matt it would be easier. Plus I ocassionally touch up a work, so this is difficult if it has been varnished already.

I would varnish more if it was possible. But with my work, it is not usually a realistic option.

05-27-2011, 10:50 AM
Dominic, there's a few different reasons to varnish a painting. An important one is just to give it a layer of protection. Acrylics are pretty tough, but even the toughest paint films can be damaged. You can also varnish to give the painting more gloss or give it a matte finish or a satin finish. Some varnishes also add UV protection. You don't need to make changes to your painting in order to varnish it.

So it just depends on what you want for your paintings. For me, I generally do varnish my paintings just to give them an extra layer of protection. If my painting was primarily for reproduction (such as an illustration) I'd probably go with the matte varnish so it could be photographed easily. Some pigments don't gloss up as well as others so you might use a gloss medium to equalize the gloss of the painting. So in that case you'd use a glass varnish.

You'll want to wait until your painting has cured also, before you varnish. This depends a lot on how thick you paint and what brand of paint you use. Some paints are ready to go in 24 hours some take longer. Just make sure your painting if fully cured before varnishing.

M Douglas
05-27-2011, 02:47 PM
Varnish tends to brighten up a painting, I varnish all my paintings using a mix of matte varnish with gloss varnish added to give the right amount of shine. I don't like super shiny. I've come home from some shows to find that people have splattered stuff on my paintings, the varnish helps protect.
Just remember it takes 10 coats of spray varnish (can) to equal 1 brush applied varnish layer.

I have used spray varnish on paper as well, mostly for things like my colour charts.


06-02-2011, 05:20 PM
Thanks melodie, and all, after testing a few pieces painted with W&N Galleria have found varnishing to be ESSENTIAL, it has brought my pieces back to life, stunningly so, have gone for the satin varnish, which seems like your 50-50 mix

06-02-2011, 06:35 PM
Hi Dominic, I just recently finally signed some paintings and for the first time varnished them....wow! they look "finished" now, I think I will varnish all of them in the future. I also used the satin varnish.

06-07-2011, 04:13 PM
Did anyone tried varnishing acrylic color that is metallic?
I painted with metallic acrylic but I am afraid that it can become dull if varnished.

06-07-2011, 04:59 PM
let me see - I did one a few days ago, its drying..

I use w&n galleria and satin varnish - looking good still nice and shiny after 1st coat, gold silver and copper used

06-07-2011, 05:10 PM
I can't answer in the poll because, Sometimes I do.. sometimes I don't. I have found varnishing the piece.. makes it even more difficult to get the piece photographed..or copied. But I love Love the gloss, the increased color vibrancy. So.. it depends on the piece.