Why Oil Paintings Need Varnishing

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Varnishing unfinished oil painting is an essential rather than an option, and that for at least three reasons:
1. to protect the paint and surface of the picture;
2.to prevent dirt and other atmospheric pollutants degenerating the image.
3.to help in drawing the various elements of the oil painting together;
4. to protech them from ultra violet light.

1.Oil paintings may accidentally be damaged if people tend to be careless in handling them. Vanish will not protect against everything but it will provide a limited barrier against lighter damaged. Relatively superficial scratches, for example, may affect the varnish but not the oil paint underneath.

2.Elements in the atmosphere can inflict longer term damage to an oil painting. Tobacco smoke, for example, will this colour the appearance, as may other atmospheric pollutants such as dust and (perhaps to a lesser extent today) sort but also other airborne particles.

It will often be possible to rescue an oil painting from such damage but it may need an expert to do it and experts usually require expert sees.

3.When an artist paints a picture in oils he will typically use a variety of colours, types and even makes of oil paints. These paints will tend to vary in their finished appearance. Some, for example, have a greater degree of gloss than others, while some will have more of a matt finish. Applying varnish will impose a uniformity across the whole picture which tends to draw its different elements together and give it a more attractive finish.

4. The pigments used in oil paintings need to be protected from any damage or fadigng which ultra violet light might cause.

The cost of varnishing an oil painting is quite small, even when using one of the better quality varnishes. This cost assumes an even smaller relative value when you consider all the time and effort you have put into it. It is not only a finish which, for the above reasons, should be regarded as highly desireable, but varnishing ought really to be seen as an essential part of completing the painting.

AUTHOR: A K Whitehead

This article is copyright but may be reproduced providing that all this information is included.
This will take you to paintingsinoil.co.uk main page of original images painted by A K Whitehead.
All the paintings in oil here are by A K Whitehead and are original oils and not copies. The approach is traditional, making use of various techniques, including impasto and glazing. This link will take you to the main categories of landscapes, seascapes, snowscapes, waterscapes and still life and all are provided with free frames and fastenings. Free delivery is also included within the UK.

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