Varnishing a Painting

How I varnish my paintings:

Click on the image below to watch a video on my varnishing process. Plus more details written below as well.

First I start with an isolation coat. I put two isolation layers on my paintings to make the painting permanent and protect it. For archival purposes the varnish layer is a removable layer that can be taken off (in about 50 to 100 years) and then reapplied to make your painting look fresh and brand new. If you don't first apply an isolation coat, the painting can potentially be damaged when/if the varnish is removed. For the isolation coat I use Golden Soft Gel Gloss medium and I mix it 2 parts medium to one part water. I prefer to add a quarter portion more water to the mix to thin it out so it doesn't have a white milky look when I apply it to the artwork.

I place a large painting on my kitchen table and I put newspaper on the ground around it to catch any drips. If I am working on a painting that is smaller than the table I use old paint jars to raise the painting off the table so I can varnish the edges of the artwork. Next I use a large soft brush to sweep over the painting and remove lingering dust particles. I like to apply the first isolation coat in the afternoon, then apply the second isolation coat approximately three hours later. I let the painting fully dry over night and start the varnish layer first thing in the morning. *An important step, after every layer I closely inspect the painting for any dust that might have got caught in the isolation or varnish and I remove it using a toothpick. This is why it is so important to dust off the painting before applying varnish.

Now it's time to varnish the painting! I use uv varnish on my artwork to protect the painting from the sun and to stop the colours from fading. The varnish also slightly enhances the artwork making the colours vibrant and the surface look uniform. I use Golden Gloss Polymer Varnish w/UVLS, mix 4 parts varnish to one part water. I like a satin look for my paintings so I mix 3.5 parts gloss varnish with .5 part matte varnish and one part water. (Golden now makes a satin varnish, but I haven't tried it yet). I apply two coats of varnish and I try to have three hours of drying time between each coat.

Now it is time to add the hanging gear and label the back of the painting. Stay tuned for this info in the next blog post!