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Forgive me, I am sure this has been asked, but I did a quick search and didnt find anything. I feel like I remember hearing Mark talk about this in one of his videos, but I cant remember which... 
So I know you have to wait 6 mos. to varnish, but what about when something has to go to a client or gallery before that time period? Do you use a spray retouch varnish, or just leave it unvarnished? I have a painting that is dry to the touch but only completed about 2 months ago. 


  • You can use Gamvar from Gamblin. It can be applied when the painting is touch dry.
  • edited April 25
    I use Gamvar and I had to remove it from one painting to re-varnish and ran into one problem. The painting had been touch-dry for weeks, but when removing the varnish (with gamsol and a cloth following Gamblin's directions) some of the paint colour was coming off and showing on the cloth. This suggests to me that varnishing when touch dry isn't necessarily long enough.

    By Gamblin's advice this should not have happened. So even when using Gamvar I plan on waiting at least a few months from now on.. or longer... as long as possible.

    To varnish sooner I think retouch varnish is the way to go... but only after the painting is dry to the touch
  • okay good to know! is there any reason why Gamvar couldn't be a final varnish? I would rather peel my skin then have to remove varnish. LOL 

  • I want to hear what @dencal has to say on this.  I believe that Gamvar, being retouch varnish is somewhat porous, and therefore isn't a complete seal, meaning the protection isn't complete.  I think.
  • Folks

    Think of retouch varnish as being the same product as a final varnish but with a higher proportion of solvent. Therefore when the solvent (dispersion medium) evaporates a thinner coat of resin remains.
    This allows the entry of oxygen, needed to form the polymer in the lower paint layer\s.

    No, not a complete seal, but a waterproof coat that will stop particulates, mold spore and fly spots making a home in the paint.

    Paint being taken off when varnish is removed usually indicates that the varnish has bonded at a molecular level with semi dry paint

    An easier solution is to lightly oil out. This may attract dust, but can safely be restored with a damp sponge.

    In either case, oil or retouch, a final varnish can be applied on top of a dust and lint free painting.
    A final varnish is a must to protect from temperature, humidity, insects, abrasion etc.


  • Thanks @dencal and everyone else! I ended up using gamvar. Should i hamg the painti.f verticle after 20min like carder suggests? Or is gamvar different from what he uses. Just dont want a ton of dust to settle on it. 
  • edited May 7
    Do not follow marks advice on varnishing with gamvar or it will lead to failure like it did with me.

    There are a few vids out there including an official gamblin one showing how to use it properly. Use as little varnish as possible to cover the painting. Do it the way gamblin advises.
  • JessicaArt

    Gamblin states that Gamvar will be tack free dry in 18-24hrs. Much will depend on number of coats, thickness, temperature, humidity. I assume you applied two thin coats.

    After 20 minutes I suggest inversion of the painting, so that it lies face down supported at the corners by upturned nail points in scrap wood. This will work for stretcher frames but large Dibond panels for example will sag too much. Damp sponge the surface the painting will rest on to avoid static charge dust attraction.


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