Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best?

Many artists choose to varnish their paintings, and if you’re at any level above complete novice you probably already know why.

For the sake of this post, let’s assume there are some readers who haven’t ventured into “Learning About Varnish” territory and break things down. 

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply


What is varnish and what is the point of using it?

Varnish is a layer of protection that is brushed on after a painting is finished. It’s kind of like a clear coat on your car or a top coat on your nail polish. However, the kind of varnish you use on a painting can be removable, so that every hundred years or so the painting can be refreshed.

Varnish has traditionally been used to protect artwork from dust, debris, smoke, and whatever other atmospheric nonsense decides to cling to it. 

Other than protection, artists want to use varnish to deepen/saturate the colors of the painting, and to create a consistent sheen.

Varnishes come in gloss, semi-gloss, and matte finishes, so depending on the look you want, you can choose a varnish formula that will achieve it. 

Trekell offers Gamvar varnish in all 3 finishes, each of which comes in 3 sizes to fit your needs (4.2 oz, 8.5 oz, and 16.9 oz). They are pre-mixed, saving you extra time and trouble, and are low-to-no-odor which will obviously please your senses.

In case you need further convincing, Gamvar came about as a result of Gamblin working with the National Gallery of Art to come up with a fabulous varnish, so there’s your ace in the confidence hole. Gamvar can be used with oil & acrylic paint.

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply


So, what Trekell brush works best and why do you need a special one for varnish?

Trekell and Gamblin collaborated to make the perfect varnish brush, and it has just been released. The Gamvar varnish brush comes in 50mm and 75mm sizes and features synthetic bristles. It’s made in Germany and will give you that saturation and depth of color you’re looking for, as well as a consistent gloss level every time. To make it even cooler, both the Trekell and Gamblin logos are showcased on the white handle to remind you of this fab collab. 

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply

 

Trekell also has its own house line of varnish brushes--the 105 series. This brush comes in 3 sizes--50mm, 75mm, and 100mm for all your coverage needs. You’ll get an application in consistently thin layers with its soft natural bristles and lots of control with the firm handle. 

 

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply

 


From varnish to application, Trekell and Gamblin have your paintings covered!

How to varnish your painting -

Step 1 - Select the varnish and varnish brush of your choice. Gamblin has 3 varnishes to choose from, and these come in 3 sizes. If you prefer a shine to your painting, the gloss varnish is best for you. The satin varnish offers a subtle shine, where the matte varnish has no shine at all.

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply

 

Step 2 - Pour the varnish of your choice into a cup or bowl. Do not pour the varnish directly onto your painting.

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply

 

Step 3 - Dip your varnish brush into the cup or bowl where you've poured your varnish. 

 

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply

 

Step 4 - Apply your varnish in even coats.

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply

Step 5 - Once this has fully dried, you may repeat steps 3 and 4 until you feel your painting has the coverage you'd like.  Gamvar can be cleaned out with Gamsol, or you can leave it in the bristles and it will reactivate when used again.

Varnishing Your Work--Why Varnish and What Brush is Best? | Trekell Art Supply
Artwork by Ramon Hurtado

6 comments

Hi Dennis,

You want to make sure your paint is fully dry before varnishing. Gamblin suggests taking your fingernail and pressing it into the thickest piece of paint on the painting to test if it is dry or not.

Trekell Art Supplies

When is it safe to varnish?
I use a lot of colbalt reds and they seem to take a really long time to dry.

Dennis Murphy

Gamvar can be used with oil or acrylic paint.

Trekell Art Supplies
Gamvar can be cleaned out with Gamsol, or you can leave it in the bristles and it will reactivate when used again.
Trekell Art Supplies

What’s the best way to clean brushes after varnishing?

Joyce Delario

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