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when can you frame a painting

my understanding is to wait 6 months to a year for the oil paints to dry. So my question is, when people sell paintings that are new and not even 6 months old, and may not be varnished either, can the paint be framed if it is dry to the touch, or must one wait until it is dry and varnished in 6 months to a year?


  • I wondered this too. Then I discovered they're probably using Gamvar varnish by Gambin. This varnish can be used as soon as the painting is dry to the touch. I'm sure some people frame unvarnished and tell the buyer to have it varnished in six months if using some other type. Others here may have more info on this.
  • The six month "rule" is seldom followed. You can put the painting in an attic, un-vented car, in front of a heater, anything to help it dry. Many will then varnish sooner. As stated, Gamvar is a good choice also.
  • thank you. I'm in Florida, so if it ever warms up here, I'll do the attic. So if in the attic, or as suggested in an unvented car. it should stay in there about a week or longer?.
  • I believe Mark's wife suggested that in an early thread. Maybe a search or someones good memory would help. I would just go a week or so beyond dry to the touch. I have used a heater and went a few days.
  • A professional painter I know , if he is stuck for time , frames them under glass,barely dry. I don't think he completely seals the back of the painting, allowing it to dry .
  • Most of my paintings go to the gallery with only a light coat of retouch varnish on them and each will have a note on them that a final varnish must be applied after 3 to 6 months (it depends where they live.) The gallery gives his note to them when the painting is sold. If they are local people they can call the gallery and I will do it at no charge. Now the paintings I have going to the Cheyenne Show at the end of July will have a finish varnish on all of them, because all are finished now and will drying for just over five months and I live in Arizona and oils can be safely varnished in 2 to three months if not heavy impasto. Mine are not So they will be varnished in June and shipped the first week of July.
  • thanks azpainter. I got the gamvar varnish, I'm just not sure I like the glossy finish, and not sure if I put on too thick or not thick enough. Is there another or better varnish that does not have a high gloss? I couldn't remember if Mark gave a specific type varnish for oils.
  • greendl, Grumbacher Damar Spray Varnish says that it is a soft matte finish. Dick Blick sells it as I am sure do lots of other places . Maybe you would like this better. I have put a matte finish on over a gloss finish on an acrylic painting with no bad short term effects. You could write Grumbacher or Dick Blick and ask if you could apply this over the varnish you have already used. I have found that Dick Blick is very helpful when I either call on the phone or send an email. They always answer my questions.
  • I don't remember if it is Grumbacher or Krylon that makes a semi gloss which is very nice and does not "kill" some colors as when they are sprayed with a matte finish. Winsor Newton makes a satin finish and so does Sennellier that are sort of semi gloss. I think, but do not know for sure but I think they may be a 50/50 mix of gloss and matte varnish. The smoother and less brush strokes show or is a painting is in the darker range of values then a Satin or semi gloss would be preferable, Personally I use a gloss varnish (Winsor Newton) and apply a thin even coat using an airbrush. I got tried of spray cans spitting big drops of varnish in one area and sputtering in others, so I buy varnish in bottles and apply with an airbrush. I can also control the spray amount and pattern so I do what car painters call a "dry spray." It is really not dry, but it is sprayed a little farther away from the surface being coated and a little more air to liquid mixture. Actually if I had the space for a compressor I would use an automotive touch up gun, then I could really control the spray. Now, for the airbrush I use a small nitrogen bottle. Similar to a small welders acetylene tank. It is silent, dry air (no condensate in the amount of time I use it) cheap, lasts a long time and is non toxic and uses no electricity.
    Remember what I said earlier though most of my paintings leave the studio with only retouch varnish on them and for that I use Krylon or Utrecht damar retouch varnish.
  • If you spray first with a matte and you don't like it and then spray with a gloss or semi-gloss will you bring back colors that you had "killed"?
  • No. Not to their original color. Matte or even Satin has wax in it to create the matte effect so just spraying a gloss varnish over it does not remove any of the wax. Now the reason Sating finish works a little better, is there is half the wax in it to start with so it does not cause the "milky" dull effect that matte does.
  • If you go to the Gamblin website you will find instuctions on mixing the Gamvar with cold wax medium to create a more satin finish to the varnish. I have mixed this in proportions aas they suggest, and then variations, then tested them on parts of oil sketches. That way I could compare the different effects. I also left part of the sketch unvarnished.
    I generally don't like high gloss as the reflections make the painting hard to read. The problem when you stay too far from that is that you compromise the depth of the darks. Experiment to find what is most pleasing based on your painting style and the values in the piece.
  • i find myself not liking my finished varnished painting. My paintings seem to have dull sections. I read about anothers talk about oiling out, and was wondering if that is something to do to all the painting which could help with the dull parts..
  • @greendl have you seen this video:

    If you varnish the way Mark does, you shouldn't have dull sections. Oiling out is the same process as varnishing, just using oil or medium instead of varnish.
  • I guess I thought from listening and reading on oiling out, is that thy just did it to certain areas of the painting and not the rest. I thought then how do they put a protective varnish on it then. I need to read more about it then. thanks again, I watched the video again. ty
  • You can "oil out" or varnish or oil in any part of a painting, but typically you only "oil in" sections at a time as you are working on it If that's part of your process. But once you're done, you usually cover the entire painting evenly.
  • thanks so much rgr. very helpful.
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