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Author Topic: To varnish or not to varnish?  (Read 206 times)


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    • Maryna Moolman Art
on: September 26, 2017, 09:42:17 AM
Dennis, must a n oil painting be varnished? Is it a personal preference? What if I never varnish any of my paintings?
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 11:55:15 AM by Maryna »
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Reply #1 on: September 26, 2017, 08:31:54 PM
No, it is not absolutely necessary that an oil painting be varnished. However,  having said that, it is much better to varnish a painting for the following reasons:

1.  It is a protection for the actual surface of the oil painting. Dirt eventually accumulates on the surface of the painting, the worst of which is the tar deposit from cigarette smoke. Just ask any technician who has had to work on the circuit board of a television set that has been exposed to prolonged cigarette smoke :tickedoff:
The varnish protects the actual painting during the cleaning process. I have had to clean such paintings in the past. I had an example post on our old website. Unfortunately all my demo photos disappeared with a hard drive crash.
2.  Varnish brings out the brilliance of the colours.
3 It prolongs the life of the oils. Nearly all of the Old Masters paintings have survived mostly because of the varnish protection.

I personally prefer to varnish all my paintings.
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Reply #2 on: September 27, 2017, 01:32:22 AM
Good question Maryna.  I did not know oil should be varnish.

Now come the big question Dennis.  When?   Since it takes decades to cure...


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Reply #3 on: September 27, 2017, 01:54:03 AM
I recently found a varnish called Gamvar by gamblin. It allows you to varnish as soon as the painting is dry to the touch. I have used it a couple of times and it seems to work well.