Getting Ready for Artigras Art Festival

Paintings for Artigras FIne Art Festival

 Amber's Artsy Notes

It is January 1, and I am making good on my New Year's Resolution to also include a post once in awhile on art tips and things I have learned on my artistic journey.  I hope to help other artists in some small way---it is about paying it forward.  I hope that you find the tips and resources helpful.  I've started off on the right foot  with two posts about my new easel and one on applying an isolation coat and varnishing!

Applying Isolation Coats on Acrylic Paintings:

Look who came to dinner!  Over my Christmas break from my job, I was working on getting all my paintings ready for my first art show-Artigras Art Festival. Some of my acrylic paintings are shown on my dinning room table where I was working assembly line style.  Preparing your paintings for varnishing is an important step.   

Each of my acrylic paintings received three isolation coats (two is probably sufficient). Because I paint with lots of texture, I like to put an extra isolation coat on.   I thought the 3D look and feel would be lost with adding the gel but it only increased the luminosity and the depth and dimension of my paintings.  If you have never applied an isolation coat and varnished before, pick one painting and try it and see if you like it.  I know it can be scary, but just try it with one painting you don't care much about.  Sometimes, you just have to experiment to see what works best for you and your style of work.  Acrylic paintings don't have to be varnished (there are different schools of thought on this), and I really don't want to get into the pros and cons of varnishing-there is plenty out there on web to make you dizzy and confused.  Here is one article on pros and cons of varnishing that I found helpful.  I think varnishing adds some protection and luminosity, and allows for ease of cleaning.   Some customers like the soft matt look and sometimes I do too so I don't always varnish my acrylic paintings. I am not fond of  matt varnish because I think it can dull colors-particularly dark colors (you can see a comparison in the last link above).

When an isolation coat goes on, the colors became fresh, bright and wet looking again.  The surface does take on a glossy sheen, but if you use a satin or matt varnish over your isolation coat, that sheen will be reduced.    On another note, the paintings where I had mixed gel gloss heavy medium with my acrylics, the soft gel gloss isolation coat enhanced the gloss that I had previously mixed in my paints when I was painting. It is easy to get these two mediums mixed up (I remember I was confused about which type of gel to use for an isolation coat when I first started painting).  So just to clarify-- I use Golden Soft Gel Gloss for my isolation coat and in some of my paint applications I used Golden Gel Gloss Heavy Medium. (I like Liquitex Heavy Gloss Medium too).    I don't use glazing medium as an isolation coat either (I think I read some people use that, but I am not sure if that is the correct thing to do).  When in doubt, contact the company that makes the product.  I have found Golden and Gamblin very helpful in answering my questions via e-mail about varnishing. 
When using Golden Soft Gel Gloss as an isolation coat, I adhere to Golden's mixing and application standards before applying the varnish. Here is a video on how to mix an isolation coat.  You may find this video helpful on how to apply an isolation coat.  Here is some information on  why you need an isolation coat before you varnish an acrylic painting. 

Varnishing Oil Paintings with Gamblin Gamvar Picture Varnish:

My oil paintings for Artigras have already been varnished with Gamblin Gamvar Picture Varnish (I purchased the premixed version). "Robert Gamblin formulated GAMVAR, a low molecular weight (LMW) synthetic resin varnish, based on research at the National Gallery of Art."  It was easy to apply, no noticeable odor, has a beautiful satin sheen!  Here is a video on how to apply the varnish which can also be used on acrylics.  I will be doing a test this weekend to see how it looks.  I was so happy with the finish on the oils  so I may also use it on the acrylic paintings too! 

I will be varnishing my acrylics this weekend I will either use Gamblin's Gamvar or Golden's Polymer Gloss or Satin Varnish.  I have not decided yet.  I was so happy with the finish on the oils when I used the Gamvar so I may also use it on the acrylic paintings too! I will post an update next weekend.

Tip:  It is best to photograph your artwork before your apply varnish-especially if you apply gloss varnish!  Some artist take their photograph after the first isolation coat.    It just helps get a good picture because if the surface is too shiny, you may get some glare!

That's all for now. Have a joyous  New Year!