Here’s an art question for ya… varnish, yes or no?
Now that I’m playing with acrylic paint again, exploring pour techniques and using additives and what not, I’m wondering if it is necessary.
Like this piece, for instance. It’s not the best photo… light washed on the metallic sheen, too. Here’s a closeup of the surface.
There’s some texture going on, teeny tiny nooks and crannies for dust and dirt to settle… but then, brush strokes on a traditional acrylic painting also leaves tiny places for dust to cling. And “they” do make a pour-on varnish now, specifically sold for fluid acrylic paintings. It’s supposed to leave a smooth, high gloss surface, almost like an epoxy. Should I try it?
Tell you true, my only regret in art is varnish.
Why? Because varnish has failed the test of time. I’m old, so I have some old art, original favorites that have hung on my walls since the 1980’s and 90’s. Some were varnished, some were not, and now I wish I never did. Those that were varnished have lost a vibrancy. The colors have dulled. It’s almost as if there is a thin dirty film over the paintings that cannot be washed off.
Yes, I wash my paintings. I wash baskets, too. Large paintings go into the shower ye once a year or so for a gentle wash down (not a soak) with a soft sponge dipped in a mild dish soap (usually Ivory) diluted in lukewarm water, followed by a gentle rinse with a hand held shower head front and back, tilted so the water drains off… wetting the back tightens the canvas and the wood needs it, just like a basket. And, just like a basket, let it dry slow in the shade… away from direct sunlight.
Acrylic is a polymer, polymers are plastics… traditional acrylic paintings don’t really need varnished, in my opinion. But, fluid acrylics are not the same… we’re playing chemistry, mixing paint with flow mediums, some made of glue, adding drops of various oils (most use silicone, I’ve tried a fine gun oil, some people use hair products, some kind of hair oil) and heat is sometimes applied. How does this change the composition of the paint film? Does it need sealed with a varnish? Will it pass the test of time?
Odds are, I don’t have 20 years of life left in me. I’m not going to be around to see the results of any long term testing.
So, what’s the school of thought here? Yes or no? Has anyone been doing fluid paintings long enough to observe a difference between work that has been varnished as compared to not?
Thanks for reading!