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Why is my varnish still sticky and how can I fix it?

The painting remains sticky after several months. How can I remove the varnish? I tried mineral spirits but did not work. Can anybody suggest something to do?

Hello dear R_R_Perry
I am having the same problem with a picture a varnished with dammar varnish. I can’t send it away …
I thought maybe I should put it in the sun to hurry up the drying process.
I haven’t tryed yet ^^
Anne Karin

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I have the same problem before, when I was painting on panels that I prepare myself (MDF panels primed with acrylic gesso) and varnish after finished.
But when I change the surface to a canvas panels the varnish dries faster in a few hours.
That make me think the surface has a lot to do with how the varnish dries. (BTW I use Winsor & Newton Dammar Varnish)

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R_S_Perry You did not say what varnish you used. It could be a number of things. Humidity when varnish was applied. Not fully dry before varnishing. Varnish applied to heavy…


From now on if you use Gamvar instead of other varnishes it is removable with mineral spirits. It can also be used sooner than other varnishes because it is light and allows the oil paint underneath to continue to “breathe”

Thanks for the tip. Where do you buy it?

Also had that problem long ago, since then I have used a very thin shellack solution.
Maybe it is possible to apply a little over the dammar ?.
Lately I have experimented with galkyd and used a little as a varnish, seems to work fine,
could maybe also be possible to apply it over the dammar ?

Thanks for your response. I never even considered that the surface of the panel might be to blame! The panel I was using was one that I bought. I noticed that it was made in China. I have prepared my own, however, and will take your response seriously!

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I like the idea of applying shellac over the dammar varnish. What is Galkyd and where do you get it?

Alas! I think I used one of those cheap varnishes that I had on hand for a craft project. Learned my lesson! The humidity here in Arkansas could also have been a factor. Never thought about that, either. Thank you for the help.

Thank you for your response. Never thought of sun drying!

Galkyd is a pure alkyd medium from gamblin, it is very flowy, not like liquin,
(An alkyd is a synthetic resin and oil chemically combined )

Thank You ! Sounds like something worth trying.

I just want to share what i heard from an artist who uses only dammar varnish. He said paintings need to dry 3-6 months, depending on tickness of paint layers, before varnishing. In proces it streches and sink into canvas creating flexibility while the varnish on contrary shrinks and harden in process of drying. If the painting was varnished too soon the paint cant strech and sink across canvas treads, so the varnish cracks or tickest paint layers chip off…:dizzy_face: I hope this spare time and trouble for someone​:framed_picture::wine_glass::call_me_hand: