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Learning tools for artists

Varnishing Your Painting

Varnishing oil paintings protects them from dust and pollution but it can only be done after you wait at least 6 months. To test if your painting is ready to varnish, gently rub a cotton bud dipped in Sansodor on a discreet area of your painting. If no colour is disturbed, your painting is ready to varnish. Begin by wiping the surface with a lint-free cloth to remove any dust. The best brush to use is a wide, soft brush to avoid streaks. Dip the brush in your varnish and use smooth strokes in one direction until the painting is covered, then turn the painting 90 degrees and use the same long smooth brush strokes across the first, wet layer to further smooth the surface. Only apply one layer of varnish like this or the result will be patchy. Another thing to keep in mind is the sort of finish you would like in the end, there are gloss, satin and matt varnishes. Choose the one that suits your work best, considering whether you would like a reflective surface (gloss) or one that absorbs a bit of light (satin) or a very flat, light absorbing finish (matt). All of the varnishes are also available in a spray formulation if you prefer that manner of application.