• shellyrae1

If you purchase an oil painting from me, chances are there will be a second date.


"Sir Diablo" copyright Shelly Denning 2017

UPDATE July 24, 2018: I am now using Gamvar to varnish my oil paintings. This is a final varnish that can be applied when the painting is touch dry and still allows the paint to cure properly. However, the below is still good information for those who wish to varnish their artwork.


All of my oil paintings are delivered with a temporary varnish to help protect them from environmental pollutants. Oil paint is a special medium that doesn't “dry”, by definition. It “cures” as a chemical reaction takes place between the oil and oxygen. This is a slow process that can take up to a year to complete. Once a year has passed since it's completion, I will send you an e-mail notifying you that it's time for your final varnish. This will provide long-lasting protection to your artwork and ensure that it will maintain is richness and vibrance for generations.

Why do I need to varnish my painting?

Technically speaking, a final varnish is not 100% necessary. However, it adds the following benefits to your artwork:

  • It allows you to change the surface finish to gloss or matte.

  • It provides a more unified finish to the various areas of a painting.

  • It increases color saturation.

  • It provides environmental protection for the paint surface.

  • It allows for ease of cleaning.

  • It provides protection from UV radiation.

There are a few ways in which your final varnish may be done:

Option #1: Do it yourself – It's easy!

A couple of different varnish options are available. Instructions for application of both follow. I recommend a gloss varnish to enrich the colors of your painting, but satin and matte finishes are available as well. Make sure you purchase a varnish suitable for oil paintings. Visit your local craft store (Michael's, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, Asel, Dick Blick, etc.) and purchase your preferred varnish (recommendations may be found a the end of this post). Most of the large chain stores have 40% (or more) off coupons that can be accessed through their app. Regardless of the method used, I recommend listing the varnish brand and type on the Statement of Maintenance that was provided with your artwork.



BRUSH-ON VARNISH

  1. Prepare the area in which you will apply the varnish by laying down painter's plastic or a cut up trash bag. I recommend applying your varnish in a clean, indoor space so as to lessen the chance of insects, dust or other debris becoming embedded in the varnish as it dries.

  2. Prop your painting on wooden blocks or bricks so that you have access to the edges of the painting. By raising it up, you ensure that the varnish won't cause the painting to stick to the prepared work surface.

  3. Prepare your painting by gently wiping it with a damp cloth to remove any dust from the surface. Allow to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

  4. You'll need a cheap nylon brush. I recommend at least a 1-inch brush for smaller paintings or a 3-inch brush for larger surfaces.

  5. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application. Some varnishes need to be diluted while others may be applied directly from the jar.

  6. Use the brush to spread it around in a thin layer, making sure to cover the entire surface, including the edges of the canvas. Keep in mind that some brush strokes may be visible in the final product. You can brush the varnish in long, parallel strokes, a criss-cross pattern or you can brush in the direction of the painting underneath. It's up to you.

  7. Allow the varnish to dry for the specified time on the container.

  8. Apply additional coats as suggested by the manufacturer.

  9. That's it! Your artwork is ready to be enjoyed for a lifetime!



SPRAY-ON VARNISH

  1. For a spray varnish, you'll want to work in a well-ventilated area. I usually work outdoors or in the garage. Be sure to wear a dust mask or ventilator so that you are not inhaling the varnish into your lungs.

  2. Prepare the area in which you will apply the varnish by laying down newspaper, painter's plastic or a cut up trash bag.

  3. Place your painting on wooden blocks or bricks so that you have access to the sides of the painting. By raising it up, you ensure that the varnish won't cause the painting to stick to the prepared work surface.

  4. Prepare your painting by gently wiping it with a damp cloth to remove any dust from the surface. Allow to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

  5. Follow manufacturer's instructions for preparation of the varnish. The can should be room-temperature and needs to be shaken vigorously for up to 2 minutes.

  6. Begin your spray stream off of the edge of the painting and use long, even strokes to move across the painting at an approximate 15 inches from the surface. Slightly overlap each stroke until the surface has been covered completely. Do the same for the edges of the canvas.

  7. Allow to dry per manufacturer's instructions.

  8. Repeat the process for a minimum of 3 coats. Apply as many coats as is preferred for a high-gloss effect.

  9. Your art is now ready to be enjoyed for generations!

BONUS OPTION: RESIN

A current trend in artwork is to encapsulate the final painting in a thick layer of resin, giving a glass-like appearance to the surface. Resin is usually purchased as a two-part liquid system that hardens when the two parts are mixed. The technique is fairly advanced and I would not recommend doing this yourself unless you are very familiar with the process.

Option #2: Let me do it for you

I am happy to complete the varnish for you, at no extra charge. If you prefer the resin option, a fee will apply based on the size of the painting. Get in touch with me at shellydenning1@gmail.com to arrange a time to deliver your painting or to work out shipping arrangements. If you will be bringing it by, you are welcome to wait (unless I am applying resin). We can chat over coffee while waiting for layers to dry. Otherwise, I will let you know when it is complete and we can arrange a time for you to pick it up. If you need me to pick up and return the painting, I may be able to do so for an additional fee.

Option #3: Hire someone local

If you are not local to the Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton area and prefer not to ship your artwork, you may be able to locate a service near you. Do a search online or contact your local art supply store or framing shop for recommendations. Be sure to check references to ensure that the person or shop that you hire possesses the experience and knowledge to complete your varnish or resin properly.

Recommended Supplies

BRUSHES

Folk Art Smooth Basecoat Brush Royal and Langnickel Large Area Brush Set

Craft Smart Large Area Flat Brush Pack

Artist's Loft Necessities White Synthetic Flat Brushes

BRUSH-ON VARNISHES

Gamblin Gamvar

Winsor and Newton Artist's Dammar Varnish

Winsor and Newton Artist's Gloss Varnish

SPRAY-ON VARNISHES

Grumbacher Picture Varnish

Winsor and Newton Artist's Varnish

Golden Archival Varnish Spray

Additional Resources


3 Reasons why artists varnish their work (and why some artists don’t) 7 Questions every Artist needs to ask before Varnishing an Oil Painting All You Need to Know About Varnishing Paintings Varnishing Help Video: How to varnish an oil painting

Video: How to Varnish Spray an Oil Painting for Beginners

Video: What Happens If You Varnish Oil Paintings Too Early? Real Life Experiment


#varnish #grumbacher #winsorandnewton #golden #oilpainting #gamblin #gamvar

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© 2020 Shelly Denning