August 18, 2006

Varnishing Acrylics

Poppies In Brass Bowl, Acrylic, 18x24,1971

Back in July, Mark Golden of Golden paints wrote about the value of varnishing acrylics and I wrote a reply giving reasons for not varnishing. This morning I happened across his response, which pleased me since there are often strong opinions in this regard. Any nagging suspicion that I might be short-changing my paintings by not giving them that final coat is now irrelevant. (This is the painting I reference.)

Posted by Karen Jacobs on July 25, 2006, 9:26 pm
I'd like to run my reasons for not varnishing. Back in about '73, we had a house fire that did considerable smoke damage. I lost only a few paintings to the fire, and set aside the others for cleaning at a later time. These were my early career years but I did have a few works that were important to me. One was an acrylic done on the cheapest canvas board but it was thick with paint (don't think I'd discovered Golden at that time.) I sprayed it down with 409, rubbed and rinsed with a sponge and that painting is as good as new even today. If there is a slight yellowing, it doesn't affect the overall quality of the work itself. The board is a little warped but that's a different problem. Today, I'm looking back on a really decent career, using mostly Golden acrylics over a highly textured surface (I mix dry spackle powder with gesso.) Not all paintings sell and when I get them back from the galleries, I often find I want to repaint them. To totally remove varnish from all those crevices would be quite labor intensive, so I don't varnish. I have found that GAC 500 gives a nice hard finish, countering any tackiness our humid climate might cause. Enjoying your blog... great service!

Posted by Mark Golden on July 26, 2006, 7:22 am
Karen, Absolutely great comments! Folks here are cheering your response. As we've always discussed with any technique, including varnishing, the first choice is an aesthetic one. Our goal has simply been to try to provide the best information without some sort of spin or sugar coating. I am confident that our materials have been formulated to be as durable and lightfast as possible. I am still very excited about the entire field of acrylic technology and what it offers us as formulators and artists as new opportunities. But I also want us all of us to be realistic about the effects wrought by time on all things. I am hoping we can get some comments here from the conservation community as to how valid they see my crystal ball. Should be fun! Regards, Mark

1 comment:

CMC said...

Yeah....I've been doing the same, using the GAC 500 unless it's a commission and I KNOW it will never come back, then I varnish with the Golden Poly gloss varnish.