How to remove varnish from an oil painting

remove varnish
It would be a tragedy to damage a valuable painting by trying to remove the varnish if you have not had any experience in varnish removal. The best advice is simply to take it to a conservator.

Solvents
However, there may be occasions when you feel you can remove the varnish on your own and the best product to use is Winsor & Newton Distilled Turpentine.

Dammar varnish can be removed using any of our three oil colour solvents: Distilled Turpentine, Artists' White Spirit and Sansodor.  It is recommended to use Distilled Turpentine as this has the strongest solvency.

Technique
Starting in a corner of the painting, dip a lint free cloth into the turpentine and gently rub the surface of the painting.  The varnish should come off onto the cloth - remember to keep a close eye on the cloth and if you see colour coming off then stop. Working in small squares, make your way across the surface of the painting and try to keep using a fresh piece of cloth, as this will help lift the varnish rather than simply spreading it about.
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COMMENTS ON How to remove varnish from an oil painting

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  • Bill Berry
    1142 DAYS AGO

    Bill Berry

    I have wrongly applied Damar varnish to a painting that I finished last week hoping o get rid of the apparent blotches of the oil paint. If I am successful in removing the varnish, what can I do to get rid of the blotches, use a layer of oil?

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