The infamous gloss or matte finish for acrylic paintings?

Hello I am new to DPW and just started painting again after 13 year hiatus while concentrating on career development and building a family. I have become reinvigorated since picking up brushes again but am mostly self taught. Now after having a few completed works with painting daily, I want to varnish some of them. I know it may be just a preference but in regards to abstract realism and more palette knife work, which would you recommend? Is there dullness or color/details lost with matte? Or does the texture get lost in the glare of glossy varnish?

Thanks for any input I can receive. And I know I may just have to experiment and find my own preference.

For me it’s always just been a personal preference. I always prefer the more glossy look instead of the matte. Yes it can cause glare depending on where your standing, but it seems to deepen the colors more. Others on here may have a better answer, but for me I think it boils down to what you like.

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I did a series and used matte on them and recently have been using gloss. I think the dark colors come out more with gloss. I just bought a can of Satin but haven’t tried it yet because I’m going through the same indecision. Ha! It may depend on the subject, style, and / or colors in the piece. Maybe not be the same for all pieces.

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I mix a small amount of Satin in with Matte varnish, and it gives me just the slight sheen I like. You might consider practicing varnishing on some paintings you are willing to use for “practice” before you decide what you want to use on the ones that really matter to you. BTW, if there is a lot of texture in the painting, you may need to use your brush to remove some of the Matte if it collects or “pools.” If the Matte “pools,” it can leave an area looking white and cloudy. I just use the edge of my brush to remove some. You have to do it before the varnish starts to dry though. Practicing varnishing is highly recommended! Best wishes…

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Gloss always brings out the vibrancy in the paint colors. But I hate the glossy look for a finished painting. What you can do is use gloss first, then after it is dry, follow with a matte.


Is the varnish too thick looking after this method?

I like your idea!

No, I use Golden varnishes. They are in little squeeze bottles and they are actually quite thin.

I just tried the Golden satin spray varnish (2 coats) hoping it would be the happy medium between gloss and matte. I was disappointed. Not only was it more matte than I would expect but it did not even out variations in the sheen of the painting. I plan to write to Golden.