Problem with varnish not sticking to the painting

I varnished a painting today and the varnish kept leaving space where it would not stick to the canvas.  Has anyone ever had that problem? I used Winsor and Newton gloss varnish.  Last spring the painting was in an exposition and it was still a bit too early to varnish so I oiled it with linseed oil to bring the colours back to life.  Would it be the problem?  Or is it the Venice Turpentine that creates the slippery paint?  Not long ago a tried the Gamvar varnish on a recent painting and I had the same thing happening.  I was able to get rid of this by keeping brushing the Gamvar varnish as it has a longer working time before becoming cloudy.  But today with the Winsor and Newton varnish I was not able to do this as the varnish was becoming sticky.  I hope it will go away on the second coat, anyone has a suggestion?  

I will try to post pictures.


  • dencaldencal -
    edited December 2015

    Thanks for posting the photos. Vey helpful.

    This common problem is called beading. Likely a slick incompatible area with fingerprints, or contamination with a silicone product.

    The solution is to lightly abrade with a nylon scourer and re varnish the local area.
    Personally I would try a touch of alcohol and a Q Tip. (I might even use some of the alcohol on the painting).

    Have a look at this discussion

    The other suggestion is to rub the surface with a cut onion. Allow to dry and re varnish.


  • Dennis, said "Personally I would try a touch of alcohol and a Q Tip."  Alcohol a great idea, Q Tip not so good, use a straw, too slow the other way !   B) 
  • Mark_CarderMark_Carder admin
    edited December 2015
    Rub the surface with a bit of rubbing alcohol in a soft cloth first.  Is there high humidity where you are?  The only time I ever had an issue like this was when I lived in a rainforest in Hawaii.
  • Thanks Denis and Mark, I will wait for the varnish to dry some more before using rubbing alcohol.  It's the first time this happened to me with this varnish.  I live in a relatively dry area so I don't think this is the problem.  I think in the futur I will start using the Gamvar on all my paintings.  So much easier to apply.  Mark have you ever tried the Gamvar?  I would be interested to hear what you think about it and why do you prefer the Winsor and Newton glossy varnish?  
  • I watched a video on Gamvar and I remember they suggested that you apply a thin layer and really scrub into the painting.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited January 2016
    @Lucie If you are interested in knowing what type of alcohol to use, Mark recommends using "the purest, but keep watching the cloth to make sure you're not starting to pick up paint. Rubbing alcohol can dissolve paint if you leave it on long enough."  Summer
  • I use a Gamvar/OMS mix (still playing with the ratio) and use a China bristle brush to apply. I apply a layer, wait a few minutes, brush it again (with no added varnish), wait a few minutes more, brush again and repeat for maybe 15 minutes or so. I actually end up removing some of the varnish that I originally apply and wipe the brush on a paper towel to remove excess. That helps to take care of areas where it doesn't cover initially and also cuts down on the glossiness.
  • I just wanted to let you know that I used alcohol (not the purest) on a small cloth and gently rub the surface where the varnish had beaded, let dried and gave the second coat of varnish.  It was a success.  Thanks to all for your help on this.  I will try to post a picture of that painting on another thread. 

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