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East Oak Studio - Question on painting into retouch varnish

Has anyone experienced intentionally letting an under painting or initial sketch dry as Michael Klein in the second portrait session of the free live-stream,  and then coating the entire painting with a layer of retouch varnish, before painting the second paint layer into the varnish?

I never saw this before. I have seen and oiled out a painting with linseed or walnut oil after it dried, but I have never painted into retouch varnish.  What are the advantages of this?  His only explanation on the live stream was that this was the way he did it, his process.  What are the advantages?

Comments

  • It will be interesting to hear what our scientific genius @dencal says.  One of my instructors only used retouch varnish - this was before I ever heard of liquin.  He used it like one would linseed oil - no difference.  Other than it does dry quicker. It just brings it back to life - no sunken in places.   I had another instructor who only oiled out and varnished with liquin - quick drying and even finish also.  

    I have heard of many people using re-touch varnish in a medium concoction - cut with turpentine/linseed oil.  I witnessed my instructor only using retouch when I was younger - I thought that was how you did it back then.  

    This will be interesting to hear thoughts.
  • Quoted from another forum, this may be a reason for the retouch varnish. "One of the uses retouch varnish is formulated for is to bring back the glossy appearance of paint that has dried matt ("sunk in") so that new, wet paint can be judged properly against it. It also helps the adhesion between layers of paint. Use the thinnest layer possible, though. You want to just bring back the gloss without leaving an appreciable layer of dried resin behind."

    Read more: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php/49184-retouch-varnish-do-s-or-don-ts?s=1455b691489c6bbfee3869f1f5a82bda#ixzz5OlU8sMfz
  • Folks

    Isolating paint layers with varnish is a common practice. Done for the same benefit as oiling out. I have not done this, so l will rely on the experience of experts.

    Brian Baade writes for MITRA. https://www.artcons.udel.edu/mitra/forums/question?QID=344


    This use of isolation varnishes in oil painting should be discouraged for a number of reasons. First, it is generally a bad idea to reduce the mechanical tooth of a paint layer, which could promote delamination or flaking of the superimposed layer. 

    Second, adding the varnish layer between paint layers will introduce an unnecessary solubility issue. Even if it is covered by additional oil layers, the varnish could be attacked and undercut during a restoration campaign resulting in the loss of all subsequent layers. For instance, a layer of natural resin between paint layers will create a paint stratigraphy that is sensitive to hydrocarbon solvents, even those containing a low proportion of aromatics. A layer of shellac between oil paint layers introduces a sensitivity to alcohols, etc.

    Additionally, the use of varnish interlayers creates a more complicated paint stratigraphy. We know from examination of historical paintings that the more complicated the stratigraphy, the more likely there will be some failure in the future. This does not mean that one has to create paintings in only a few layers, but you should aim to use as few layers as is necessary to create the desired effect. 

    The varnish interlayer will also respond in a different manner to movement of the substrate than will the paint layers below and above it. It will also age differently. The flexibility of the varnish may change drastically over time making it less flexible than the layers that it is covering. Etc, etc. So, for the above reasons, and likely many that I am not thinking of at the moment, it is really best to avoid the use of isolating varnishes in oil painting.  

    Brian Baade

    Denis


  • So, was Baade talking about varnish or retouch varnish or any kind of varnish? Could be Baade advice.
  • BOB73

    Baade’s points, namely, reduced tooth, solubility, complicated stratigraphy and differential movement are common to all types of varnish.

    That’s good advice.

    Denis

  • edited August 21
    Thanks for the feedback.

    It sounds like the science involved would lead one to not use varnish to 'oil out' a painting since the same objectives described by @BOB73 can be accomplished with known oils such as  linseed or walnut oil without the risks involved with using varnish.

    However, individuals who have incorporated this practice into their work process will still stand by it and promote because they have not personally encountered problems and it seems to work well for them.

    Once, again I thank @Julianna for introducing me to this artist, @BOB73 for his humor and common sense, and @dencal again for his always informative and helpful comments.
    dencalBOB73
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    edited August 21
    However, individuals who have incorporated this practice into their work process will still stand by it and promote because they have not personally encountered problems and it seems to work well for them.
    That’s called an anecdotal fallacy.  An example is “my uncle ate bacon and smoked cigars every day and live to be 93”.  Isolated cases do not counter statistical evidence.

    The point is here is an important difference between an artist (not a materials scientist) saying “this is still fine after 20 years”, and a world full of deteriorating art.

    If we are to follow advice, it should be that of a materials scientist, definitely not an artist.  Similarly you also don’t want the scientist choosing art for your walls.
    tassieguy
  • @PaulB, who chooses the art for your walls? Your innerscientist and innerartist must be in conflict.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    BOB73 said:
    @PaulB, who chooses the art for your walls? Your innerscientist and innerartist must be in conflict.
    Well, it’s not me.  Nothing of mine is on the wall.  Which is fair, because none of it is framed, and I’m sick of looking at it all.
    BOB73
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