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varnish top coated

when does one know when an oil painting is ready to be top coated

Comments

  • PaulBPaulB mod
    edited January 18
    The truth is that we don't know.

    Some advice says six months, but we all know that six winter months is a different environment than six summer months, and furthermore it depends where you live.  It also depends on how thick the paint was applied.

    One option is to wait a year, which is a period that we all here believe to be sufficient.

    Alternately you can use a retouch varnish, which creates a porous layer, and this allows the paint beneath it to continue to cure, despite being varnished.  Retouch varnish can be applied to touch-dry paint.
    BOB73Summer
  • I had heard that there is a finish that can be applied immediately after an oil is dry to the touch?
  • I am starting my 8th DMP - my first few attempts are just past the touch dry stage and I live in a warm climate - time wise that equates to about 12 weeks since I have been a member thereabouts - but I will not varnish them, as they are only for my historic record - my wine and cup will be varnished but I can wait until they are ready, I just got them sat on top of the kitchen high level cupboards drying 

  • With most varnishes you want to wait at least 6 months if not longer (if you paint thickly). 

    However I highly, highly reccomend Gamblin Gamvar Gloss varnish. It's a final varnish not a retouch. However like retouch varnish you can put it on when your painting is touch dry. It's what I use and I love it!
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    edavison said:
    With most varnishes you want to wait at least 6 months if not longer (if you paint thickly). 

    However I highly, highly reccomend Gamblin Gamvar Gloss varnish. It's a final varnish not a retouch. However like retouch varnish you can put it on when your painting is touch dry. It's what I use and I love it!
    To be precise, Gamblin say differently:

    https://www.gamblincolors.com/oil-painting/gamvar-picture-varnish/

    All Gamvar can be applied when the thickest areas of your painting are thoroughly dry and firm to the touch.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited January 19
    For those of you concerned about conservators being able to replace dirty varnish from your paintings in order to add a clean new layer long after you are deceased, I'd look for the word "removable" on the container of the final varnish you decide to use.  I believe it is recommended by Mark Carder as part of his teaching method.  And, I believe that I have read elsewhere that conservators have a difficult time removing retouch as well as permanent varnish.  I know it's difficult and sometimes impossible to wait let alone know when paintings are dry, and that my stuff will end up in the trash anyway, but I only use the removable type of final varnish.  Only have experience with Winsor & Newton.     
  • @PaulB I did lots of research and it only needs to be touch dry. Here's what it says in their FAQ: 

    "When can I varnish?

    Gamvar may be brush applied when the painting is dry to the touch and firm in its thickest areas. For some oil paintings, that may be two weeks, for others, 2 months. To check if it’s dry, gently press your nail into the thickest part of your painting."


    So it's safe to apply as long as touch dry and there is no softness to the paint...which as it mentions you can test with your fingernail. They reiterate this in their product video around the 1:30 mark. 

    Also, a very well respected landscape painter named Mitchell Albala discusses this here: https://blog.mitchalbala.com/gamvar-an-easy-to-use-varnishing-solution-for-oil-painters/

    And another painter that talked to their customer service to confirm received this answer to the question of when can I varnish?


    • How soon can you varnish a painting? Best to wait 3 – 6 months, but you can varnish with Gamvar as soon as the painting is dry to the touch, or if thickly painted, when it is firm underneath the surface of the painting. The mild solvent in Gamvar won’t dissolve the surface paint.




  • In other words, if it's completely dry to the touch and firm then it's fine. I'm not trying to argue, I just really respect this product and I want to make we don't give anyone the wrong idea. 
  • You mentioned keeping your finished painting in the KITCHEN to dry, @alsart; I highly recommend that you find a better place as normal cooking produces all the bad things you don't want on your canvases and especially on your finished or WIP paintings including steam, warm moisture, residues from cooking with oil or fat and even the errant solid particles of flour, baking powder and others even soap bubbles from washing dishes can get on there and cause problems.
    edavison
  • I have placed then under cover - and high up once my outside closet is re built I will have cool storage then so it's a temp measure thanks for noting the risks though @BOB73
    edavisonBOB73
  • here are the Gamvar instructions
    edavison
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