Types of Varnish
There are three main kinds of varnish: matte, gloss, and satin, and they each come in a spray and pour on version. Matte varnish gives a more muted, flat look to the painting and it doesn’t make any glare. Gloss varnish is super glossy and really enhances the painting making the colors super rich and saturated. Satin varnish is in between, giving a much softer look than the gloss, but not as flat as the matte. Spray vanish is less expensive and lower quality, and it dries faster than the pour on varnish. This is a great option for paintings on paper. Pour on varnish is thicker and takes longer to dry. It is higher quality and you can control how even the coat is over the whole painting. Pour on gloss varnish is our favorite at the Milan Art Institute. This is the kind those artists use in all those satisfying varnish videos you see everywhere where they coat their beautiful paintings with that juicy glossy thick varnish enhancing all the colors. It is not necessarily the best kind for every painting and every situation, but it is the most showy and impressive.
How to Varnish
When you are finished with your painting and it is completely dry, you’ll want to first lay the painting flat on a surface, preferably inside because you won’t want any dust to be blown onto the surface while varnishing. You’ll want to either be in a well ventilated area or wearing a gas mask because the fumes are toxic. For spray on varnish, spray an even coat moving back and forth horizontally across the painting, until the painting is covered. For pour on varnish, pour a little bit in the center of the painting, and brush it side to side and up and down with a large soft brush. You’ll want to use a higher quality brush because sometimes low quality brushes can lose their hairs as you varnish. Start out with a little bit of varnish in the center and add more as needed. You want to have a nice even thick coat over the whole painting, but if you pour on too much at first, it will spill off the sides and make drips. Depending on the kind of varnish you use, it can take up to 48 hours to dry, and it is ideal to keep your painting flat until dry. Otherwise it may drip and make lines down the painting. We use a fast drying Windsor Newton pour on gloss varnish and it takes about an hour to be fully dry. You should always varnish your paintings before you sell them because this ensures the painting will be fully protected forever. You should wait to varnish your paintings until after you have photographed them, because the varnish can create glare in the photo. Hopefully you learned something new about varnishing and tag us in all your next satisfying varnish videos!