You go into the art supply store to buy your paints, canvas, and brushes.  But also available are the varnishes and mediums.  You may overlook these items as you're unsure what to buy and how they are used.  I am here to tell you I used to be like that.  What you don't know can't hurt you, and all that.

     But finally I got curious, then I started doing research, and then I actually tried out these products.  Now I would not be without them!  It started with varnish.  I didn't like the flat look of acrylics and the fact they looked uninteresting and unfinished when dry.  So I looked into the varnishes at the store.  I decided to try a spray varnish in gloss.  Since then I have tried several brands, but always came back to KRYLON UV ARCHIVAL GLOSS VARNISH. It comes in Matte, Satin, or Gloss and is designed for long term protection especially from the sunlight.  Now I do not consider a painting finished until it has been varnished.  NOTE:  Acrylic paint MUST cure for 48hrs to one week depending on your climate before varnishing!  I wait a week to be safe.  Otherwise it will crack! If you are painting in oils, they must cure 6 months to one year before varnishing!  Always check your varnish to see if it is safe for your medium.  Some can only be used on acrylic OR oil, but not both! If you are unsure, be sure to ask for help. The wrong product will ruin a painting!

     Since then I have learned more, and now I use the spray for a base coat and then when it is dry, I go over it with a brush-on product called GLOSS VARNISH by LIQUITEX.  It comes in Matte or Gloss.  I have always preferred the gloss because it gives the painting the look of oil paint, but you can use whichever you prefer.  Brush on varnish gives a thicker, more permanent coat of protection to the painting.  I use a sponge brush or a silicone makeup pad to apply the varnish.  It is important that you go in only one direction with the applicator when you apply the varnish, not back and forth. Tilt to check your coverage or hold a light at a 45 degree angle to pick up any dull/dry spots you may have missed. Photos of these products are below.
Base coat of varnish
I previously posted about all the different spray varnishes available and how to use them in the blog entitled VARNISH & FINISHING SPRAYS....on June 18, 2018, if you'd like to go back and read up on the subject.

These are three of the mediums and varnishes that I use in acrylic painting.  Sorry for the paint spots on the bottles.  The left bottle is the GLAZING MEDIUM that I use. (discussion is below) The next one is the SLO-DRI BLENDING MEDIUM that is added to the paint to extend the working time of acrylic paint. The third one is the GLOSS VARNISH.  These are all liquids that are easy to work with, go a long way and have very low to no smell.  They are available at Hobby Lobby, Michael's, on Amazon, or any art supply store.  None of these are really expensive.  I have photos at the bottom of paintings that have been varnished with both the spray and the brush-on varnishes.

     Now on to using GLAZING MEDIUM.  I wanted to get a really nice depth to my dramatic sky I painting for an art show coming up this fall.  It is called the " FLORIDA WILD" show held at our local art association.  Mine is a painting of a sawgrass prairie or salt marsh.  Consisting of lots of water, sawgrass, small islands of palms and the dramatic early morning sky. it is a low key or darker painting.  Because it doesn't have a lot of bright colors, I wanted the depth of color to be the eye catcher here.  ( I have a separate blog on the painting itself) So I decided to use glazing to get that depth.  So far I have 2 coats of glaze and I am loving the look!

     To use glaze you pour out the amount you need on your palette, add a SMALL amount of paint by proportion and mix with a palette knife. I would experiment first using about a quarter size puddle of glaze and a VERY small bit of paint.  You can always add more, but cannot take away if you use too much. Mix thoroughly! This process only works with transparent or semi-transparent paints because you need to be able to see through the glaze coat!  Yellows, blues, reds and greens are usually safe to use. Once mixed, dip a VERY SOFT brush such as a watercolor brush into the glaze mix and brush over your DRY paint on the canvas.  It dries quickly and is slightly shiny.  It takes a few coats to get a dramatic effect but it is wonderful when done as it takes your paintings to a new level!  There is a really good video on this technique on YouTube called "HOW TO GLAZE WITH ACRYLICS".  It shows a piece of cheesecake with a cherry & sauce.  If you watch it, you will want to try glazing for sure!

              Below are the photos of the two varnishes.  I like gloss, you may prefer matte.

 BRUSH-ON VARNISH - I had to tilt the canvas so you can see the gloss.  If you look at the painting straight on, it looks normal, or without shine.  As I said, I prefer gloss as it looks more like oils and I just don't like the matte look.  Within minutes of posting this painting online, I had someone ask to buy it! I said OK, but it had to go to the photographer for prints first!

SPRAY VARNISH -  I had a hard time getting the shine to show on this one.  It just looks hazy.  This one has 2 coats of spray varnish on it.  I will go back and apply the brush-on varnish soon. Be sure it is completely dry before using the brush-on over it.  I wait 24 hours.

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