Q: How can I matte Gamvar?
Like damar, Gamvar has a high shine. To reduce gloss of a varnish, there are three techniques:
Q: How long do I have to wait till I varnish my painting, 6 months, 9 months, a year?
A: The answer is simple and complex. You can safely varnish when the painting is dry. But when is a painting dry?
Some paintings are dry enough to varnish after two weeks. Some are not ready for two years. If you paint thinly with fast drying colors and use a fast drying medium, in a warm and dry climate, then the painting may be ready to varnish in two weeks. But if you painted using Alizarin Crimson to make a half inch thick layer using poppy oil as a medium then the painting may not be ready to varnish in two years, if ever!
How to tell if a painting is ready to varnish is easyjust touch it. If there are impasto areas, gently press your fingernail into that impasto. If it is firm underneath the surface of the painting then it is ready for varnishing.
Q: Do I have to varnish?
A: We recommend painters using alkyd resin painting mediums wait three months before varnishing. Painters using an oil and damar mix in their painting mediums should wait six months. But, if an artist has a painting that is only dry on the surface and that painting is sold, we recommend the artist varnish only with Gamvar Picture Varnish. For this purpose, thin Gamvar with approximately 20% Gamsol or other high quality Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS) to make a very light coating. After application, the surface of the painting will have an even gloss and the colors will look very saturated. The thin coating of Gamvar will slow down the drying process but drying will continue slowly and no problems will occur as the painting ages.
Varnishing is an aesthetic decision. We live in much cleaner environments. For example, coal is no longer used to heat homes and fewer people smoke tobacco so paintings will not get as dirty. Also, contemporary oil colors are much stronger than paints of the past. So if you do not like the way any varnish looks now, consider adding a line of text on the stretcher bars or on the back of the panel that says: "OK to varnish in the future." This way you can let future conservators add a varnish layer if appropriate.
Q: Can I use Galkyd as a varnish?
A: Galkyd is not a varnish. Varnishes need to be removable. Our recommendation is to use an excellent contemporary varnish rather than use a painting medium as a varnish. Our wonderful water-clear varnish, Gamvar, is the best way to finish an oil panting.
Q: Can Gamvar Picture Varnish be used as a retouch varnish?
A: Yes, add one part Gamvar to five parts Gamsol or other brand of high quality OMS to make a retouch varnish.
Q: Can I use Galkyd as a retouch varnish?
A: No, Galkyds are painting mediums so when you apply Galkyds to oil paintings, they will form a paint layer.