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Varnishing looks aweful!

I waited 3 months and watched Mark's video a dozen times. I varnished with W&N professional artists gloss varnish and see the below result. Any advice?!? I was thinking of applying a satin varnish over it, but do I need to strip the initial varnish before I do that?

Any advice?!?

@Mark_Carder Help!!!


  • @jimbo ; Excellent painting.  I love it.  While I'm mulling this situation over, may I ask how you applied the varnish?  Spray or painted with a brush.  By the way, if I varnish at all, I have learned to wait at least 6 months.  I know you exposed the photo so we can see the problem, but does it look like this in other lighting situations?  Summer
  • I initially set it up in great studio lighting and it looks the same. Varnish applied with brush (vertically), I don't have a place to spray and I was following @Mark_Carder demonstration video.

    i only waited 3.5 months since I have a light touch and the paint was applied extremely thin, it isn't tacky anywhere in the picture.
  • I should note that the varnish leveled nicely once I finished applying.
  • Jimbo

    I think you have just described your problem. How many coats? Light touch and extremely thin.

    Probably fixed with another light coat, or maybe two more. Do a small test area this way before committing to the whole surface. No need to strip first coat.


  • Thanks. I'll try that first.
  • FlattyFlatty admin
    I wait 8 weeks and varnish never had any issues. I lay flat and apply a liberal coat. Wait 20 minutes or so the place vertical. I'm no expert but I think a thicker coat would have done the trick for you?
  • @jimbo I meant to respond when this thread was still new but was too busy. Hopefully this is soon enough to help.  I lay my canvas flat.  Then I take the highest quality gloss varnish and the clearest artist turpentine and make a 1:1 mix.  Then I apply 3 thin even coats with a good brush and make absolutely sure I have no puddles.  I also try very hard not to over work it.  If it gets tacky stop immediately.  If your canvas is loose, add some wedges to make it tighter.  Do it outside or with exceptional ventilation.
    In the picture above I see no problem with the varnish.  I just see a blown out photo.  At the bottom I see a clear, glare free, well varnished painting.  At top I see a camera flash.  Have a look at the various threads on photographing your paintings and see if that makes a difference.  Mark has a new video on it.

  • Just a comment regarding high gloss varnish.

    If you are displaying and selling work, you will quickly come to realize that not everyone likes a high gloss.  It is much harder to light properly, and most people's homes are not outfitted ( nor are the buyers prepared) to do it the way we do.

    I know its the recommended product here, but just a reminder that its not gospel.

    Do you use satin? You may have said already but if so, I've missed it.
  • edited May 2017
    @jimbo ,If you don't like the gloss varnish, you can add a coat of matte or satin varnish directly over what you have already done no worries, just as is (just don't miss any spots). The glory in this is, if you do this, your matte or satin varnish will perform better over the gloss finish. It is the same in the reverse, if you add a coat of gloss varnish over matte or satin varnish, the result will be a higher gloss finish. This is very simple.
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