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It's been a busy week since I last wrote. Classes started up at the NECTAR Centre in New Edinburgh with both returning and a number of new students. My second class at the senior's residence was even better than the first and we did mixed media birds, being Spring, and then they did their weekly journal entry. I had my private classes at my studio as well as shopping for supplies for classes, preparing applications for upcoming art shows... and, oh yes, getting groceries and other necessities of life! Funny how art always seems to take priority!
With the warmer weather, this week I took some time to start varnishing paintings. During the winter I keep my studio just above freezing when I'm not out there working... about 40'F/4'C. When I want to work I fire up the heater and am comfortable at about 60'F/15'C, but when I'm done I turn down the heat again... I'm a Hydro One customer so electricity is expensive, and should not be wantonly wasted.
When I began painting in acrylics there were some ideas about acrylics that have since been proven wrong. One of those was that there wasn't a need to varnish acrylic paintings, like oil paintings usually are. I was told by more than one paint manufacturer that because acrylic is a resilient polymer film, varnishing was unnecessary. As it turns out, polymer is a soft resilient film and over time can absorb dirt present in the atmosphere. (It does. I have seen it.)
With acrylics being a new medium on the block, it is not unusual for products and procedures to change as the medium develops. After all, it's only been available for the last 50 some years, although it accounts for about 60% of the artists colour market.
So, what I have recently learned is that when my painting is finished and dry, I should apply a coat of polymer medium, as a separation layer and then when that is dry and cured, apply a removable varnish. (Curing time at each stage is about 3 days.)
The separation layer is important because it is what separates the paint from the varnish, and down the road, should your painting need repairs and the varnish have to be removed, that layer prevents the paint from being removed as well.
This brings to mind Damar Varnish, for oil painters. Damar Varnish is often used as part of an oil painting medium to thin paints. If there is also Damar varnish in the finishing varnish then, in the event that the painting needs repair, not only will the finishing varnish be lifted, but also the paint used with Damar as the medium. Something to think about!
The varnish provides a hard finished surface for your painting that does not absorb dirt particles, and does not soften in heat as the acrylic paint does... facilitating the fusion with other paintings... should you leave them face to face in your car in the heat of the summer. (I'm totally experienced on this!)
Varnishes come in a variety of forms, including brush on and spray; oil based and acrylic based; matte, gloss or satin. I like to vary the sheen on some of my abstract paintings as I find it adds visual interest to the work. To do that I purchase both a matte and glossy version of the same varnish and use them on the various parts of the painting that I want gloss and matte. By mixing the two, in varying quantities I can also create the exact satin sheen that I want.
When using varnishes always read and follow the directions carefully. It would be a shame to ruin a finished painting by applying the varnish incorrectly. Once the varnish is applied you can no longer paint on the painting as the paint will not stick to varnish. To continue painting the varnish must be removed, again according to the manufacturer's directions.
Once again I'd like to invite you to subscribe to my blog, now that we have that magic little button in there. Also, please feel free to comment and I really want to know what you would like me to write about in future blogs... a problem you are having with a painting, information about a new media you want to try, how to mix colours... anything that relates to art and artists. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Today's Painting Tip...
When painting in acrylics and oils it is beneficial to paint from dark to light. That means to get your darkest colours laid in first, then your mid-values and then your highlights. What this does is put your shadows underneath the highlights, where they would be naturally, while your highlights are up front, closer to the light source. By using a minimum of three values (dark, medium and light) your subject starts to show form. Of course you can always use more values, depending on your subject or your preferences, but less that three will leave your subject looking flat.
Thanks and best wishes,