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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Alkyds and varnishApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2019-01-28 06:48:52 ... Most recent comment 2019-01-29 17:03:16

    I read in another post that "Alkyds dry quick to the touch, compared to oils, because of the long polyester polymeric chain component to them." ... but   

    "After this first drying step, they dry much like traditional oil paints, which is by auto-oxidation and cross-linking.  So, they dry to the touch faster, and can get ‘stiffer’ faster, compared to oil paints, because of the polymer component, but they eventually dry in a similar fashion to oil paints."

     The key advantage of alkyds then seems to be that they quickly provide a touch dry layer that can be painted over. However, am I correct in assuming that paintings done using alkyd paints and mediums still come under the recommneded 6 to 12 month drying time before varnsihing. 

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Alkyd mediums render the paint fairly resistant to solvents early in the process, so I think with alkyds it's less likely that varnishing the touch-dry picture early will cause the coating to mingle with paints (compared to traditional oils). There is still the chance, however, that dimensional changes in the paint as it cures could affect the varnish layer. That said, I believe the 6-12 month wait is a long-unchallenged  "rule" established before the introduction of synthetic solution varnishes. A.P. Laurie taught that an oil painting should be varnished (with mastic) no sooner than 6 months after completion, and like his often-quoted, similar advice about waiting 6 months to use an oil-primed canvas, while it couldn't hurt, I don't think these rules are based strictly on science. In my studio, I generally proceed with a light coat of varnish when the paint is firm without tackiness, and top-coat later with the same product for a final varnish.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2019-01-29 17:03:16

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