‘Self-Portrait, age 3’
10″ x 8″  Oil on masonite

before varnish

A friend of mine back in NJ recently purchased a landscape painting from my online gallery (whoopie!) and of course it was a thrill, knowing that my work can still touch people’s lives and that they want to own a piece is a great honor to me.

To put the story in context here, I knew him for years when I was living in Lambertville, NJ.  Gordon still is an artist and owns a highly respected gallery, but he was always an important mentor when I was trying to navigate the art world.  He’s given me so much advice that I didn’t learn from school, and some of it actually stuck to me.  Today was a day I put his advice to practice.  What did he say?  Use WN conserv-art glossy varnish after you complete a painting.

I’ve used varnish here and there, but the main reason I haven’t used it, was that I heard you have to wait a year or more to do a varnish.  By then, either I sold the painting or it was hiding somewhere in my home.  But this varnish that I used today was quite special.  First of all, varnish is used to protect a painting from the elements after it’s fully dried, has been used by masters and museum conservators for years.  What I liked about this varnish that my friend recommended me was that it brought out my painting’s colors from the dead.  When oil paintings dry, the colors tend to become a bit muted, and loose that “freshly painted look.”  I had no idea how dead some of my colors on the painting looked until I applied the varnish.  Wow, this varnish not only gave the colors new life, as if it was freshly painted, it gave it extra gloss.   And since it’s a retouch varnish, it can be removed.  If you want a final varnish, that would come after 6 months or a year, and that varnish can’t be removed.  Retouch varnish is more forgiving for the immediate present.

after varnish

After I varnished  my friend’s new painting (ok, it’s “Sedona Yellow Redrocks”) with a large paintbrush, I decided to varnish about 8 more paintings.  Including the child portrait above this post.  I did not manipulate the colors in both photos,( I always take photos in natural light.) Heck, I’m on a roll here, better take advantage while I’m in the mood!  Word of caution though, I had no idea this varnish smells, has a strong odor like turpentine.  I didn’t have a mask, but I stayed away from breathing in the fumes.

Important note:  If you get any on your hands, which I did in fact, wash your hands  immediately. It took a few washes, but thank goodness for Dr. Bronner’s soap, it did the trick.  I was worried my hands would smell like varnish, but it didn’t.  I’ll have to varnish and post some of the newer paintings, but from here on out, I’m using varnish for my art.  It really makes it shine and adds value.  Plus, it makes me feel good that I took good care of my art.  It’s like watching 3-D tv for the first time (which I did in Best Buy last week), it’s hard to go back to your old tv after that experience.

So my recommendation is to use a retouch varnish, I might look into something more eco-friendly if it works just the same, but this is a great product, recommended to me by a great friend.