How to Varnish an Oil Painting

Variations in the mediums or type of paint used will often result into patches on a painting, some of which may be glossier than other parts, when the painting has dried.

When you apply a coat of varnish, the painting will get a uniform sheen, and it will regain the brilliance it had when still wet, keep the artwork safe, and give it a professional touch.

Contrary to common notion that varnishing an oil painting is a hard and mysterious process, it is in fact simple, fast and foolproof.

In the steps that follow below, we’ll explore how to varnish an oil painting using any of the numerous types of art varnish for oil paintings. In this article, we’ll use Darmar varnish.

• Find a well ventilated place that is properly lit. It’s always great to varnish your paintings outdoors, for instance on a screened porch if the weather is good. You need to thin Darmar varnish 50 percent with turpentine.

• Put some hot water in a measuring cup and place the bottle of varnish in the cup. In the mean time, you can assemble the rest of the materials. Fill the cup with hot water in intervals until the bottle of varnish is at the same temperature with the varnish.

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• Select the right type of brush. A 2-inch gesso brush is a good choice for this varnishing task. The brush you choose should be of high quality such that it does not drop bristles on your paintings. The varnish ought to be applied all over the painting pretty fast so you should avoid a brush that would not be able to apply all the varnish before it begins to dry.

• Get a small ceramic pot or glass container to hold the varnish. Ensure that the mouth is wide enough for the brush to fit. Run some hot water over it to het it up, then dry it thoroughly. Place it into another container with hot water to keep it warm. To get started, pour about ½ to ¾ of varnish into the container.

Change the hot water that warms the pot each time you add varnish to the pot. You will want to avoid electric heating devices near the varnish as it’s highly flammable. The hot water method is always a safe option.

• Prior to starting your work, cross-check to make sure all your supplies are where they ought to be. Remember to have a tweezer nearby in case brush bristles fall off on to the varnished area. You need ample flat surfaces where you’ll place your paintings after varnishing. They need to be kept flat for some time.

• You can now start varnishing your paintings. Simply place the one you want to start with on the table near the varnish. Saturate the bristles by dipping the brush into the varnish. Take off the excess varnish by rubbing the brush on the sides of the container lip.

It’s always good to start in a corner and then brush across the painting before you return to the same section. Dip the brush in the varnish and start again from the other side, overlapping the last strip of varnish by a few centimetres. Continue brushing until there’s a uniform coat.

Continue this process, reloading the brush with each strip until the whole painting is covered. To even out the coating, brush the painting slowly in a perpendicular direction, overlaying strokes and brushing across the entire painting.

At this point, your varnishing job is as good as complete and your painting will have a high gloss finish.

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