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What finish product do you use on you oil painting and how is it applied?


(Mary Ashley) #1

I would like to know what type of a finishing product do you use and how is it applied to a oil painting.


(Connie McLennan) #2

I like Gamvar picture varnish, which is a thin varnish you brush on. A store employee once told me that unlike Damar varnish, Gamvar is “breatheable,” which allows a painting to continue drying after it is applied. I don’t know if that is accurate, but my paint is not super thick, and I have never had any problems applying it after about a week, when the paint is completely dry to the touch. (A few hours in the sun or under a light bulb can help with that.) It is a gloss varnish, which I like for some things. For a matte or semi-gloss finish, I mix it with cold wax medium.


(Anne Wood) #3

I only use Winsor & Newton Retouching Varnish. It dries quickly and is easy to apply. Most of my customers say they prefer not to have a really shiny surface so this suits the job nicely. I use a sponge to apply a thin coat which ‘lifts’ the oils and protects the surface. I also find it useful for when I want to return to a painting and apply more oil during a re-work.


(Pandalana Williams) #4

Yep; Gamvar picture varnish! It is wonderful! I use the same thing :slight_smile:


(Joseph Mahon) #5

Hi Connie,
I have used Gamvar varnish, but I notice I sometimes get some beading on the surface, after an application of varnish. It can be most annoying.


(Connie McLennan) #6

Two options, either of which can solve the beading issue:

  1. Add a bit of cold wax medium to the varnish
  2. Give it a second coat.

(Joseph Mahon) #7

Thank you Connie, I will try the cold wax medium.


(Mary Ashley) #8

Thank you connie, I went to the Gamblin site and watched a video of how to apply it, very helpful! I have to wait for the order to get here and try it. I have been using a spray varnish and sometimes it seems it never quite dries, always abit tacky around the edges.


(Mary Ashley) #9

Thanks Anne! I will definitely try this!


(David J. Teter) #10

I use a spray varnish, Krylon UV Archival Finish, because it is easy to use, archival, removal and I don’t have to mix and brush it on. They have other products HERE
This works great for smaller paintings, especially with tight deadlines.
I prefer the satin finish since I have always found the gloss too shiny making the painting hard to see with the glare from lights.
What is important to remember is to use one that is a removable conservator recommended varnish (chemically different than oil paint for removal) and UV protectant.

Sadie J. Valeri has a really good article on this HERE and for Joseph Mahon she addresses the beading problem as well as dust removal just prior to varnishing.
I am going to try out this one here since the spray can doesn’t work as well for larger paintings, larger than 24"x36".


(Connie McLennan) #11

The thing is, the product instructions say retouch varnish is not intended for use as a final varnish. I think it is too thin and eventually may dull.


(Gary Westlake) #12

OK here is my dilemma: I paint a small board on one day and photograph it the next day, put it up for auction the next and a week later it sells (This is me thinking positive). So potentially a week and a half after painting, it’s out the door. Normally I don’t varnish leaving that to the purchaser, but I know in some cases parts of the painting will sink and not be as reflective as others. The purchaser may or may not get around to varnishing. What to do?


(Anne Wood) #13

Gary, I have the same thing here…this is why I use a smear of re-touch varnish…I know it won’t last long but it does lift the colours and provide a small protection for a while. Also, many of my buyers say no varnish please.


(Johan Derycke) #14

You can use that as a compositional tool if you like.
That doesn’t mean your collector will agree with you on this, though.


(Pandalana Williams) #15

If you get the “beading” @Joseph_Mahon use a stiff brush and scrub it a bit. It pushes it into the paint, but will not harm the painting. That is recommended from Gamvar and it works.


(Joseph Mahon) #16

Thank you very much Pandalana. I will try that in future. I have to admit varnishing is one job I hate. If I could go without varnishing I would, but all the info suggests it is better to do so, protection, uv, dirt, pollutants etc.


(Pandalana Williams) #17

You are welcome :smile: Here is a wonderful youtube video from Gamvar about Gamvar and Cold Wax Medium:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMla3LlLMRM

He shows how to “scrub” it in.


(Patricia J. Powers) #18

I brushed on Gamvar’s Satin Varnish and had horrible streaks. When the weather isn’t so cold (I live in Maine and it’s mid March) I’m going outside and remove the damage done with Gamsol as they suggest. I bought Winsor/Newton’s Gloss varnish and I’ll try that on some of them and I may try Krylon’s spray on varnish. This is a very informative forum. Thanks.


(Andrea Jeris) #19

Gamvar Picture varnish can be applied as soon as the paint is dry to the touch and it dries very quickly, within an hour. I apply it thinly with a brush or a piece of folded cheesecloth.