Varnishing Acrylic PaintingsApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
Question asked 2016-10-29 08:45:07 ...
Most recent comment 2016-10-29 08:57:00
Art Conservation Topics
I have heard many variations on this and was wondering if there was any sort of agreement on the varnishing of acrylic paintings.
Answers and Comments
EditDeleteModerator AnswerExcellent question...there is a bit of an divided opinion on whether or not it is considered best practice to varnish acrylic paintings. Of course for artists another major concern often relates to how this may affect the final aesthetic of the painting. However, artists should note that acrylic films tend to be considerably more porous than oil/alkyd films and can therefore suffer from the accumulation of dirt and grime over time. If a varnish is applied, artists should choose a non-yellowing, reversible varnish layer to prevent dust and and other airborne particulates from becoming embedded into the upper paint layers. In the long term, artists should also realize that acrylic films can possess additives that may migrate to the surface over time. This can create a hazy and/or cloudy appearance that may or may not require the eventual removable of the varnish layer. If a varnish has not been applied it may be possible to carefully brush away some of these additives; however; in some cases these materials reappear on the surface as they can continue to remain mobile depending on a variety of factors.
To address this problem (note all acrylic paintings suffer from this), some manufacturers advise applying a thin layer of clear acrylic medium over the surface to serve as a barrier between the varnish coating and the paint. As high quality acrylic mediums do not yellow/discolor significantly with age (as do oil and/or alkyd mediums), this layer can potentially serve as a protective barrier should the varnish need to be removed.
EditDeleteModerator AnswerDavid Frank Bugejia - Thanks so much for your suggestions....one thing that I would add is that odorless or low-aromatic mineral spirits is the one solvent(s) that has been shown to be safe to use on acrylic paintings. Many proprietary varnishes available today are already dissolved in such solvents so dissolving your acrylic paint while varnishing is not of huge concern....however artists should avoid using high proportions of aromatics in this instance....if not for safety purposes alone! More information on solvents can be found in the "Solvents and Diluents" pdf located in the Resources section. Glazing/glass is of course always an option for easel paintings (again check the "Storage, Exhibition, and Handling Tips" pdf in Resources to learn about the wide range of glazing options available today). While certain things may be "nightmares" for conservators, artists are always free to choose what materials they use and the techniques they employ. Whether or not you decide to varnish your painting, please record whether you do so and what you use on the back of the artwork so that conservators in the future will know how best to care for your painting...
This Page Last Modified On: