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Old 01-12-2004, 09:15 AM
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rossism rossism is offline
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Arrow Varnish?

In several posts, artists have mentioned varnish with acrylics. Why? I have never used a varnish, how does varnish affect acrylic work?

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Old 01-12-2004, 11:07 AM
ahab ahab is offline
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Re: Varnish?

I have no long experience with acrylics but i started to use it to seal a painting from dirt. I heard that the surface of an acrylic painting is very sensitive to dirt due to its porous nature. But that might be only information i got from a varnish salesman .
I like the look as wel it looks more like a real painting. The colors also apear more shiny. But until now i only used it twice.

hope this helps.


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Old 01-12-2004, 01:51 PM
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Re: Varnish?

Thanks ahab,

What type of varnish do you use? Does anybody else have much to say about varnish?

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Old 01-12-2004, 02:07 PM
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Re: Varnish?

I've not used varnish. But I use matte or gloss acrylic medium to thin when I paint instead of water. If I only used water, then I would probably either varnish or put a thinned layer of acrylic medium as a final coat.

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Old 01-12-2004, 02:47 PM
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Re: Varnish?

From my own experience, I'd say that for acrylics, a varnish layer will the give the painting surface a more even sheen. Look at an acrylic painting in different angles of light and you will probably notice patches of the canvas that have a different surface sheen then others, some may appear flat, while other areas shiny, etc.. A varnish layer will help smooth that out and give the entire canvas a nice even surface consistency, which makes the painting much easier to see in a variety of different lighting environment, in my opinion.

As for archival protection.... I'm no expert on this. I know most varnish has UV protection, which should protect against fading and color shift ("lightfastness"). I've been thinking about doing an experiement on my own to see this protection in action. The idea was to paint two large colored squares on canvas of the same color, varnish one square but not the other, then leave the canvas in my window in the direct sunlight and see what happens.

Dirt, dust, smoke (say 10-15 years worth) can also stain a canvas pretty heavily, and without a varnish coat, I'd imagine it would be tough to clean an acrylic painting and get all the gunk off without compromising the paint. Varnish provides a layer that makes it safe to do a more heavy cleaning of the painting surface (providing the cleaner used is not one that will penetrate the varnish). I've also heard that acrylic paint is self-sealing, but I'd imagine that depends on the amount of paint used, I'm not sure I'd trust a thin or transparant area of the painting where the canvas shows through quite a bit to a heavy soap&water scrubbing without knowing a solid layer of varnish was there for protection.

Again, I'm not an expert, so if anyone wants to offer clarification, please do


Last edited by scandia3815 : 01-12-2004 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 01-12-2004, 02:57 PM
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Re: Varnish?

If you care to do a "forum search" - type in the word, varnish. You'll find something like 200+ threads on the subject of varnishing acrylics - the pros, the cons, the difficulties, the benefits, and of course the preferences of the individual. Plenty to read up on, anyway. If you also go to the "GOLDEN" website - do an inquiry on the matter of varnishing. They give excellent advice, imo.

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Old 01-12-2004, 03:45 PM
piazzi piazzi is offline
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Re: Varnish?

here's the lonk to Liquitex's varnish page

part of the lit is marketing, but still there's valuable info in there


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