Question about protecting paintings

Hey all,

I have recently discovered that dried paint on gessod canvas is very easily scratched, smudged, or otherwise damaged even if lightly bumped.

I'm wondering whether a thin layer of gamvar offers much protection from this or whether it's best to use a more heavy duty varnish and do a thicker layer... And whether that offers much protection.



  • CJD I use a mix of 1/2 Gamvar and 1/2 Gamsol to varnish my paintings. I have never had a  painting damaged, but I take care to protect them when they are not hanging on a wall.  
  • 2 coats and a frame that extends past the surface of the canvas.
  • CJD

    I reckon dry oil paint is a pretty tough and durable polymer. That being so, I still want the protection of a varnish.

    Oil paint that has dried on my palette or elsewhere can be tough to remove, this is on glass and it is really cohesive and adhesive. More so when I use Liquin.

    Consider the regular and frequent assaults the surface of a painting must endure, even sitting quietly on a wall: diurnal humidity, diurnal temperature, seasonal temperatures, damp walls, feather dusters, vacuum nozzles, dust, insect spray, insect droppings, sunlight, kids, pets etc.

    If your dry paint is fragile, look at the quality of the pigment and the mediums. Mark recommends Geneva and Winsor and Newton gloss varnish. Gamvar has a good reputation.


  • I've never heard of a polyester resin used as a varnish for paintings but they are very good at protecting against UV light. Has anyone tried it or heard of it as a final coat on oil paint?
  • Folks

    A gossip snip from MITRA.
    Nat Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth's brother, was the person who discovered how to form PET  (Polyethylene terephthalate) into a bottle.
    Who knew?


  • BOB73

    Polyester varnish is a beautiful finish, pianos and powder coatings use polyester.
    If your paintings will never need cleaning for dirt removal or yellowing it will be an excellent varnish.


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