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 How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils

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Janet
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PostSubject: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:04 pm

As per Winsor & Newton:

"Varnishes provide a transparent coating which protects your finished painting from general dirt. Picture varnishes are removable, enabling the painting to be cleaned in the future. Varnishes should not be used as mediums for adding to the colour. Artisan paintings should not be varnished until thoroughly dry (at least 6 months). There are three Artisan varnishes available – Gloss, Matt and Satin depending upon the desired finish. The painting will benefit from being degreased before varnishing. This can be done with either Artisan Thinner or Artists’ White Spirit (mineral spirits). Simply wipe over the surface of the picture sparingly and leave to dry overnight. Apply the varnish using a large dry varnishing brush, immerse the brush in the chosen varnish and apply in long steady strokes across the painting surface. To ensure the desired result, test before use. Matt and Satin should be shaken or stirred well before use and should not be used on absorbent or damaged surfaces. "

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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:35 am

W&N has a new varnish product out (which I have yet to find anywhere) that is a water soluble varnish.

In an email reply from W&N's Technical Advisor, Marla Morrison, she told me that:
"Yes, the Artisan Varnishes may be thinned with water. Keep the amount of water less than about 25 percent of the total volume. The same suggestions as applied to traditional oil varnishes apply to the Artisan watermixable oil varnishes.

We recommend varnishing some test pieces first. You'll get some practice time, and see whether or not you like the look of the varnish sheen. The oil color, whether traditional, or Artisan watermixable oil color, would need to be dry for 6-12 months (depending on paint film thickness) before the varnish is applied.

Two thin coats are better than one thick coat. If you want several layers of varnish but ultimately want a matte or satin sheen, build the thin layers with the Gloss, and finish with the Satin or Matte varnish. This keeps the matting agents in the Satin and Matte varnishes from looking cloudy or hazy, when applied too thickly. Be sure to shake or gently stir the Satin and Matte varnishes before use.

The varnishes may be spray applied with an airbrush, wearing proper respiratory equipment, in a well ventillated area. This application is nice if your work is large scale and/or textured. The varnishes may also be brush applied. A densely packed, synthetic filament brush is a good choice. Our Monarch Glazing brush works nicely:
http://www.winsornewton.com/products/brushes/for-acrylic-colour/monarch/glazing-brush-short-handle
http://www.winsornewton.com/products/brushes/for-acrylic-colour/monarch/glazing-brush-short-handle

Allow each varnish layer to dry before a new layer is applied (3 hours or more between layers).

The Artisan Varnishes may be applied to traditional oils as well, per the 6-12 month drying time as already mentioned. The formulations for the Artisan Varnishes are proprietary, and as such, even I'm not able to see the 'ingredient list.' So, I don't know what makes the varnishes watersoluble. The main point of the Artisan oil line is to offer a toxic-solvent-free oil painting experience. Therefore, a varnish remover was developed that is solvent free. I don't know whether or not turpentine or mineral spirits will safely remove the Artisan Varnishes.

The Artisan Varnish Remover is used just like turpentine or mineral spirits would be for traditional oil varnishes. A soft, lint free rag is used to wipe on the varnish remover. Once you see a faint residue of oil color on the rag, the varnish in that area has been completely removed. Avoid heavy pressure or abrasion of the surface during removal."

Outside of that, I would varnish all water miscible oil paints just as I would any oil when they're ready for it.
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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:39 pm

Thank you Janet and Dave for such a complete review of varnishing. I especially appreciate the part about removing the varnish. I have one painting that was complete and varnished, but I kept feeling there was something missing. I identified what it was and now I can add it and then revarnish later.

Judy Wink

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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Thu Nov 19, 2009 7:17 am

Wow Dave fantastic information. Thank you! Smile

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acadianartist



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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:18 pm

Very useful indeed! Though I think a regular oil varnish might work on ws oils, I would feel better using their product. But availability is always an issue for me... Sad Janet, do you order all your stuff online? I find it very difficult to find anything locally and have found the duty to be exhorbitant on most online orders as most of these companies are out of the US. Any tips?
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Janet
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:26 am

Hi Chantal! Sorry for the delay in replying! I just noticed your question. We created a thread on Where can you purchase Water Soluble Oils? I included every store that I deal with and a few that I've never ordered from but they're Canadian stores so you might find them useful. I think you might find DeSerres a good choice for where you're located for online ordering. Smile

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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:12 pm

Thanks Dave - Something else to buy now!
I've used regular varnishes for my paintings - until recently no other option existed. I have no problems with it. I do wait until the paintings are completely dry, it's usually around a year before I varnish them.

I do like the idea of the remover made to work with these.
As usual, good info from you Dave, thanks for taking the time to fill us in
Good topic, Janet.
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:31 pm

Thanks for all the useful information. When I first began using water soluble olis I was confused by all the complex information on varnishes that was out there. It's nice to get such clear and concise instructions. If anything gets too complicated I tend to just avoid it. Wink

Because I've been painting with WSOs for less than a year, I've not had the opportunity to varnish many pieces yet. I've got one, this first one I did back in March, that I put a coat of varnish on. I used an Eco-House Damar Varnish which is made with natural orange terpenes. I'm quite happy with the result.

I also found a Winsor and Newton product that I can use on paintings that have only dried for about a month. It is Artists' Retouching Varnish, so the work will be protected but can still be gone back into. It suits my needs well because I can protect my work and take it to shows earlier that 6 months after completion.

Now all I need it some warm dry weather so that I can open up windows and get some ventilation going - I've got a bunch of paintings ready for protection.
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:23 pm

Sofie, thank you for sharing your experience with the retouch varnish.

I have read about people making their own retouch varnish with the 1/2 Artisan varnish and 1/2 Artisan thinner. Smile

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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:27 pm

I use W&N spray re-touch - quick and easy.
Maybe Dave will fill us in on Damar vs acrylic or synthetic varnishes?


These come in matte, satin, glossy and re-touch
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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:59 am

I personally would not use a spray can. I often find it too awkward to get an even coat. A brush on application is easier for me and more economical.

A damar varnish is fine, but can be a pain to deal with if you ever need to have the painting restored. Discoloring can appear in a relatively short time frame, and I've seen some turn cloudy. Spirit based varnishes, like Gamvar or MSA varnish from Golden, are my personal choice. They handle about the same as damar, but I feel more confident that they will hold up better in the long run and cause less problems. Since I also sometimes also paint in acrylics, I can use the same varnish on both.
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:39 am

I always hesitate to provide a view. Being a basic, self-taught painter I know little about the correct 'mixtures' and practices. On the question of varnishing I have followed the practice of providing an intermediate varnish after about four weeks. Then the wait for a further nine months at least. I use W&N artisan varnishes but that is only because I bought a stack when I started out in WSO. I don't think it matters whose make the varnishes are they exist purely to protect.
My major mistake occurred when I read about Turner applying varnish after his paintings had been hung. I spoilt one very large painting by finishing the varnishing with horizontal strokes. I've never been able to remove the resultant lines of droops. I now always varnish with the painting lying flat. But I don't think it matters what varnish is used. I have read that normal household paint varnish will work just as well. And it is cheaper.
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:54 am

Thanks Dave. My old paintings have all yellowed and darkened from the Damar varnish, but I'm too lazy to bother with removing and re-varnishing. I've had no problems with the spray varnish - except where to do it when it's too cold/windy out on the porch. I've got some bottles of W&N varnishes I bought several years ago; they've never been opened - still look clear. Would they still be OK to use?

On a related note; Dave has a blog entry about varnishing here:

http://dbclemons.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/varnished-paintings-solve-uneven-surface-shine/
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Callie
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:07 pm

Kopo - too bad about your painting Could you remove the old varnish and re-do it?
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:09 pm

Well
this is the large painting I spoilt by varnishing on the wall. It now
hangs in our hallway with a table in front so people can't get too
close.

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dbclemons



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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:22 pm

kopo wrote:
...I have read that normal household paint varnish will work just as well. And it is cheaper.

I wouldn't recommend anything that wasn't designed as an art material unless I was completely certain what it was made of. There may very well be ingredients in a cheap paint varnish that would do more harm than good.

Thanks for making that link to my blog, Callie. I hope people find it helpful.

Of the varnishes out there I'd probably recommend Gamvar the most for those people interested in reducing their exposure to solvents. Gamblin advises diluting it with an odorless mineral spirits. MSA varnish on the other hand is to be diluted with regular mineral spirits only, whose odors are as strong as turpentine.
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judyfilarecki
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:27 pm

Do you wait at least 6 months or a year before varnishing WSO's?

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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:44 pm

Yes, same as regular oils. After any water used with them evaporates, you still have the linseed/safflower oil just like with other oils. Still have to be patient!
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:00 am

I would recommend applying a temporary "retouch" varnish at least a couple weeks after the final layer of paint has dried, and then wait 6 months for a final varnish. This will give your painting the extra protection it will need as it continues to cure. You also need to make sure all the water has evaporated, as mentioned. 2-4 weeks is what is recomended for waiting to varnish acrylics when water was present. You can make a retouch from Gamvar and OMS, as I mentioned earlier.
http://www.gamblincolors.com/faq/varnish.html#q4

I'm not sure about using W&N's wmo varnish as a retouch. There's nothing in their literature about it I can find. Technically a retouch is a final damar varnish that's been diluted 50%, but this varnish is not supposed to be diluted with water more than 25%, and I don't know if that's enough to allow the oil to cure properly, or if the thinner would work better.
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:10 pm

I've sent a query to WN tech support on whether a retouch equivalent can be made from mixing Artisan Varnish and Artisan Thinner, and if so, what ratio to use. I'll post as soon as I get a response.
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:00 pm

What do people do when a painting is sold shortly after finishing it? Is the retouch varnish enough?
Judy

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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:30 pm

I use the regular W&N Retouch (spray). Usually 2 light coats of it, around a month or so after the painting is finished (I don't paint in thick/impasto style).

Judy - you can attach a card to the back of the painting with info about when and how to varnish the painting. If it's sold to someone near by, I put my contact info and tell them to arrange for me to varnish it (included in sale price), if out of town, I recommend they take it to a professional framing shop (they pay for it in that case). The retouch varnish keeps it looking good in the meantime.
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:55 pm

Debra, Thank you for contacting Winsor & Newton! I'm looking forward to hearing what they have to say about mixing the Artisan vasnish with thinner. It certainly would create an option for retouch varnish that wouldn't contain solvent. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:10 am

I didn't expect an answer to my query until the morning, but was pleasantly surprised to find this in my mailbox this evening:

"Thank you for your inquiry regarding using Artisan varnish diluted with Artisan thinner in order to make a retouch varnish.

I've actually been getting quite a few questions regarding this, and recently received a reply from our office in the UK that addresses the issue. The feeling is that it may be alright to use the Artisan gloss varnish, actually undiluted, as a retouch varnish. It should be noted though, that using the varnish in this way would be a sort of "trial and error thing", as testing for this kind of application has not been conducted.

As you probably know, solvent based retouching varnishes are simply more dilute versions of final picture varnishes, which give a thinner coat of resin on the painting, and therefore interfere less with the drying of the color.

Because solutions of water-soluble acrylic resins have naturally higher viscosity than solvent based varnishes at the same resin content, the Artisan Gloss Varnish is actually closer to Artists' Retouching Varnish than Artists' Picture Varnish in resin content - otherwise it would be too thick to brush easily.

A brush coating of Artisan gloss will give a similar thickness after the water has evaporated to a coating of Retouching Varnish after the solvent has evaporated, so you should be able to treat the Artisan Gloss Varnish as a retouching varnish and apply it undiluted in a THIN layer to your painting on a small area first to make sure that you do not get film faults such as re-wetting. If this is successful and shows no problems such as stickiness after a week, you can repeat the application over the rest of the painting."
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PostSubject: Re: How to varnish a painting completed in Water Soluble Oils   Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:04 am

Thanks for sharing this Debra. Good additional info.

I would not refer to a varnish used in this way as a "retouch" since it implies you could paint over it or mix with the paint medium, which they don't say is possible, though it might be. The procedure they describe is more of a temporary varnish only that would be finished later.

Hopefully this attention will make them do more tests for this or release a retouch version.
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