Varnishing trial

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I am ready, or I thought I am, to start varnishing a few pieces for group exhibition.

I got this idea that I actually want to add a little bit of soft pastel to the images, to brighten and texture some places. Thus I wanted to verify how the pastel would look with the same finish I was intending with plain watercolor.

Overall, it works great, as long a slight darkening of the pastel is not a concern 🙂 (so use a bit brighter/lighter values if possible)

I have Golden Archival varnish in Gloss and Matt for the first layers and for finishing Dorland’s Wax Medium.

Since this was just a test, I put two layers of Golden Gloss and then one layer Matt. And then I spread and buffed wax to the upper half of the panel. Even though I rushed a bit and did not put that many layers, I still let the layers dry in between (20min).

I used my earlier wooden panel that I used in watercolor ground and watercolor tests. I added soft pastel to the right side and few places over the watercolor.


Since I used matt spray as last, the overall look was not that glossy but I prevented with the first glossy layers ‘cloudiness’ that could occur with matt varnish as first layer. Actual cloudiness can be caused by applying additional layers too soon (not dry) or the colors can just look a bit de-saturated if matt varnish is applied first. I did not trial this, but that is what I’ve come across online. Which is why, just in case, I opted to use gloss first no matter what the final finish will be.

I was not after a look, that is also why I chose to use wax and not any liquid acrylic varnish as final layer. Also none of the layers I now put are permanent (I did not put any isolation coat either).

Regarding the surface, as you can maybe see best from the little heart as I photographed the panel, there is a slight sheen from the wax, but it is not that glossy anyway. You can see the sheen also in the beginning of the below video:

Thus I am now prepared to varnish the pieces, when ever I truly decide that I really am done with those 😀 I was too strict on using just watercolor with them, but still I feel they still need something else before I am happy. So I think they will become mixed media.

(I did post the paintings earlier, so I could post my thoughts on the panels and ground, but there was still plenty of time for the exhibition. Now that I have the entire trio ‘finished’ I can re-evaluate what they need as individuals and together)

3 comments on “Varnishing trial”

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