How to varnish your painting

Varnishing your painting protects the paint from scratches, dust and ultra violet light. There is varnish that can be removed after a time but must always be replaced. You can varnish acrylic and oil paintings on canvas.

What kind of varnish to use
There are several sorts of varnish. Matte varnish, Egg shell and High Gloss. An oil painting must dry at least six months before being varnished to ensure that all the layers of paint are dry, if your oil painting isn’t completely dry, cracking may appear. Each colour of oil paint has it’s own drying speed.

To use up existing varnish you can use a mix of 2 thirds Matte and 1 third Gloss mixed together, make sure you use the same brand of varnish. This produces a varnish that is not to shiny and not to matte either. I prefer not to use pure Gloss because it reflects too much light and is difficult to hang without glare. If you use Matte it brings out the colours but is rather dead and has no lustre. Dropping names, I use Winsor & Newton, this dries very quickly and gives good results.

What kind of equipment to use
You need a large wide soft bristled brush to work with. Make sure you work in a dust free area and that your canvas is free from dust and dirt. Lay it down flat on a flat surface. If you are mixing matte and gloss varnish pour the two on to a saucer and mix them carefully and slowly, trying not to create any bubbles. Make sure you have mixed enough to varnish the whole area in one go. Once this has been done, soak your brush in the mixture and apply the varnish. Make sure that you distribute the mixture evenly over the whole canvas. Going from left to right and right to left and from the top to the bottom.

When you are finished tilt your canvas and check it in the light to see if you have covered all the areas. Any bubbles should disappear when it has dried. Make sure to leave your canvas flat in a dust free area. Usually the canvas is dry enough to frame after twenty four hours.

When you have finished varnishing your painting you must clean your brush with terpentine or white spirit. Unfortunately soap won’t work for this. Make sure you do this is a well ventilated room as all fumes from terpentine and white spirit are toxic.

Don’t put terpentine or white spirit down your sink as this causes damage to the environment. You can keep it in a jar and let the sediment settle on the bottom and pour off the residue and reuse it.

Best creative wishes,

Jean and Jocelyn