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Varnish on back order

I have been using oils for a few months now. I want to varnish a few them but all I have on hand is acrylic varnish. I am painting pretty thinly on gessobord and then leaning the paintings against a brightly lit window. Can I use the acrylic varnish? I have some retouching varnish for oils on back order with Blicks but the date keeps getting pushed out. Should I just wait until I have the proper product?

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Hi Sarah. I’ve never used retouch varnish, but I believe it is only used during painting when portions dry before you have finished the painting and you want to bring the colors up to their original brightness in order to continue your painting toward completion. I always use Gamvar varnish by Gamblin after my paintings are dry - and it should be easy to get. Most places sell it, even Hobby Lobby and Michaels.


Thank you so much! I have read that oil paintings need to dry for up to a year before they can have a final varnish? I read that retouch varnish is good for protecting paintings until then? I know these are total newbie questions….I will go reasearch.

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No, don’t use acrylic varnish for oil!!! You actually can try it yourself on small safe piece. Oil will push it out of surface and it won’t stick at all.
Try different oil varnishes - gamvar gloss is good one. I personally use dammar from Chelsea, sometimes it need 2-3 coats to look even


You can safely varnish after painting is fully dried and paint does not smudge

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Yes, Gamvar is the one that most oil painters use. Because it is slightly porous, it can be applied when the painting is dry to the touch. Use gloss or semi-gloss, or a combination of the two.


What brand acrylic varnish?
I paint thin as well sometimes using small amounts of Japan drier when deadlines are short.
Painting thin I can wait only a week and spray varnish them safely. I know because I contacted the company for verification.
I use Krylon Gallery Series UV Archival Varnish Aerosol Spray. I prefer the matte finish because I hate gloss and a spray has the advantage of not brushing, possibly disturbing, the painting itself.
This is archival AND removable as all conservators recommend.
This is an acrylic varnish safe for oils.


I was able to switch out the retouching varnish I had on back order and get GamVar instead. It might be 10 days before I get it. I used to use oil paint for 3D horse sculptures, and I always used Krylon matte spray. I never had a problem. When I recently got I got into proper oil painting I found out that only varnish made for oils should be used :slight_smile: Some of my oil painted horse models have been around 15 or 20 years and no one has said the finish crazed or came off.

This has been very informative, thanks you all!

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Rublev makes the exact same kind of varnish, and they advise against using it before 6 months.

Hello, Sarah, retouching varnish in composition is diluted domarny. I would not use it as a finishing coat, because it is designed for interlayer treatment to increase the adhesion between the dried layers, so it can give a sticky finish, which may not be noticeable at first glance, which can later create problems. Even finishing varnishes for oil sometimes give a sticky film and there you really have to wait from 6 to 12 months from the type of varnish. You can cover it with acrylic before it was not in the arsenal. It has been used for 2 weeks already. I have also seen 12 years of work opened with acrylic varnish without any changes, I can attribute colorlessness to the advantages, some resinous oil varnishes give a yellow tint, which does not always fit into the scale, and so that it does not “roll down” after drying, walk with a brush with any solvent.