OK to use a retouch varnish as a temporary varnish on a touch dry painting? ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
Question asked 2017-09-05 11:13:55 ...
Most recent comment 2017-09-06 13:28:23
I have a painting that I finished recently which I wish to photograph for online entry to a competition. I had a fair bit of sinking in which I've tried to correct with oiling out, with reasonable results but there is still a certain dullness I would like to correct. I am planning to apply a good quality retouch varnish as a temporary varnish to my touch-dry painting as I feel it will bring out the colours etc. I couldn't find much information about using retouch varnish in this way (i.e. as a temporary varnish) in the resources section of MITRA. Apart from careful application technique etc, which I can read about here or in my Gottsegan book, is there anything I need to know or any reason to avoid retouch varnish?
Answers and Comments
I am going to assume that when you write handled by oiling
out that you did this while painting and not as a surface remedy. If the latter
is the case, please read our section on oiling out in our resources section.
First, I discourage the use of the term “retouch varnish”
for this purpose, as it is misleading. Retouch implies that additional painting
will occur over this layer. We do not recommend the use of varnish for this
purpose. Please see our resources section for our reasoning.
There is a history of using thinned out version of the
varnish that will be used a final coating as a “temporary” remedy for sinking
in soon after the painting is dry to the touch. I put the temporary in quotes
because, is it really temporary? Would you intend on removing it after 6 or 12
months when you are going to put on a more permanent varnish. Likely, the
varnish is temporarily fixing the sinking in but will remain on the painting.
In fact, we do not recommend attempting to remove such a varnish after the
waiting period as you could really do damage to the youngish paint film. As
always, varnish removal should be left to conservators whenever possible.
There are brings up a number of issues to think about.
Varnish applied very early will become somewhat incorporated into the paint
film as it dries making the surface have sort of a combination of binders (oil
and varnish). This means that this varnish could be more difficult to
completely remove down the road if it yellows. Additionally the surface of the
painting may be slightly more soluble in solvents than it would have been if
not varnish were applied to the new film. This does mean that one should choose
a stable and relatively non-yellowing varnish for this purpose. We do have to
keep this in perspective, though. The surface is likely to oxidize more quickly
than interior layers and this may not be a huge issue. Very thin applications
of such a varnish should not cause a major problem.
Finally, no matter what version/method of retouch varnish
you are using, please record the constituents and layering on the back of your
painting for future conservators.
Others may have additional thoughts.
There are mixed opinions about oiling out before varnishing but our opinion here is that it is not suggested. Certainly wiping away all excess oil will minimize possible problems. You can certainly apply an appropriate thin varnish to even out the sheen in the short term.
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