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Choosing the Right Varnish?

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Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby T.Richmond » Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:26 am

So I have done some research in regards to the best varnish that suits you, that being said, I am still in debate over the best option.

My oil paintings have a habit dulling or "sinking" which in that case I would use an Alkyd to bring the pigments back out and show the lushness of the painting again, also as a varnish. The problem with that is, the gloss and having to find the proper lighting when displaying them in shows. I now know this was a big mistake.

So I have decided to purchase actual varnish and these are the choices .

Matte Varnish - No gloss and does not bring out the lush look
Satin Varnish - A bit of gloss and brings out the wet lush look ( true?)
Gloss Varnish - Shiny and lush

Now I want to have that lush look with barley any shine so people can see the paintings from all angles without that having to only stand in one specific position and with out the concern of the paintings only being in one area due to lighting. Is Satin Varnish what I am looking for? Especially for areas that have sunk.


There is one more question that comes to mind, if Satin is the best option, I will be wanting to apply it on all my paintings. But the Alkyd is what worries me, if I apply the varnish over the alkyd finish, will this remove the unbearable shine? Or will it have a negative consequence?
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby ehoeveler » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:32 pm

Members or Joe; I have to leave it to yas - I don't presently work in oils and don't have enough experience from the past. Sorry, E
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby T.Richmond » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:06 am

That's alright , don't worry about it.

I find it quite amusing how more the two dozen people have viewed this page and yet only one responds. I guess the people who viewed know nothing about oil painting.
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby Frank Joseph » Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:05 am

Hello. I paint with oil too, but never use varnish, I don´t like it. I prefer only the oil, not varnish.
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby Singular » Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:53 am

When I was painting regularly, I never applied an after varnish. The medium I used was 3 parts turpentine, 1 part linseed oil and 1 part Damar varnish. So that was good enough in terms of shine and protection.
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby ehoeveler » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:03 pm

Thank You, Joe. Re: the lack of response - I've come to realize that, folks are too busy painting or
working to respond. Having said that I think it would add to the critiqueing/learning aspect of ASC if they did.
All of the knowledgeable talents aboard should pay it forward when they can. :)
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby davideo » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:33 am

Hello. I have a number of paintings that are way too glossy! I am sure that can be amended, and I am not worried about it anymore. My mistake had been ( being essentially self-taught) that varnish was to be used undiluted. Big error! Half and half damar with turpentine is usually recommended, loosely speaking. BUT, there is an additional helper called " Cold Wax Medium". I don't know all of whoever makes it, but I use Gamblin's Cold Wax Medium. ( It may be called 'cold' so it is not being confused with 'hot wax' which is a totally unrelated technique.) It comes in a can, and can be mixed into your varnishes. The more you add, the less glossy will be your 'finish'. Look to the website, the product, ( Gamblin Cold Wax Medium) for its recommendations.
I also use the wax product with my paint, so that even while I am working, the paint won't shine back into my eyes. A large area of black can be distracting if it's shining back at you, and by adding a bit of wax to the paint before brushing it on, you will be stunned by how matte it goes on.
I do suggest you read about it- or even write to Gamblin. They are very generous with their responses and imformation. I have even twice received replies from Mr. ( Robert) Gamblin himself!
Yes, there are a variety of kinds of varnish you can get, but the function of wax does what it does with any of them, as far as I know, and have experienced.
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby ehoeveler » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:35 pm

Thank you for that nice tip, David!
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Re: Choosing the Right Varnish?

Postby Mark_09 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 12:51 am

Nice post!
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