Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Varnish

Varnish, let’s talk about it.
Are you worried about varnishing because you dont know enough about it? Recently we have had quite a few enquiries about varnishing, so we thought we would supply some tricks and tips to help you become a master varnisher.

The following is an edited version of what can be a complex and tricky process to embark upon. The St. Lukettes have written a distilled list of the essential peices of information to help you understand varnish and to help you varnish better.

Retouch Varnish = is a low resin content varnish that allows the oxygen to access the paint surface for hardening of the oil paint. It is the only varnish to be used before the painting has fully hardened (dried).
Generally it takes 3-6 months for oil paint to absorb enough oxygen to fully harden at which point a final picture varnish can be applied. Retouch Varnish is made from resin and no matting agent so it will not reduce gloss levels on your painting. Aerosol versions of this product require longer drying times to liquid based versions so to be in the safe side please wait until your painting is dry as it is not a true Retouch Varnish.

Final Picture Varnishes (Gloss, Satin and Matt) = Varnishes have two major functions;Firstly to create an even reflective finish of a specific gloss or mattness. Secondly the varnish is a sacrificial coat that will collect future dirt and grime. The dirty varnish can be easily removed at some future point without destroying any of the paint film underneath. All Langridge and GOLDEN solvent-based retouch and picture varnishes (except damar varnish) are based on synthetic resins dissolved in White Spirit. Do not use alternative solvents for dilution or clean-up.

Damar Varnish = A traditional varnish made from natural damar resin dissolved in Distilled Gum Turpentine. Clarified and double filtered, it dries to a gloss finish.

GOLDEN MSA Varnish (Gloss, Satin and Matte) = Synthetic resin based final picture varnish for use on or oil and acrylics paintings. Thin with Artists White Spirits prior to use.

GOLDEN Polymer Varnish = This is a unique fully-reversable, water-based varnish to be used on acrylic paints.

All GOLDEN varnishes include high levels of Ultra-violet stabiliser prevent fading of sensitive colour layers such as digital prints.

For examples of the different reflective finishes come in to see our varnish sample banner instore. To attain more information and MSDS’s please visit the Langridge website.

How To Apply
First you must read the label, then re-read the label. If you need to thin your varnish with White Spirit, Turpentine, water or shake the can for a minimum of 2 minutes then this is what you must do. Always test your varnish before applying it to your masterpiece that is required to be on the gallery wall tomorrow.

Situate yourself in an area away from dust, pet hair and dirt. If you are using a liquid varnish, pour it into a clean non-spill container made of glass or ceramics. With a clean brush dip the first centremetre of hair filament into the varnish and then immediately wipe the brush against the lid of the container disposing of any excessive amounts of varnish. Thinly apply the varnish over a small squared area of the canvas in a vertical and then horizontal motion.

Repeat this process until the entire surface has been covered. With this method you can be sure that the square application of varnish will overlap resulting in no missed areas. It always helps to varnish under natural lighting so that you can identify any dull areas where you may have missed applying the varnish. Always varnish an artwork lying down so that no dribbling occurs. Try to varnish as thinly as possible, more is not better and building up thin layers is always more desirable than pooling the varnish on.

Matte and Satin varnish contains a product called Matting Silica. Matting Silica is a fine particulate that knocks the gloss finish back. Matting Silica is quite heavy and tends to sit on the bottom of the can or bottle, if you do not thoroughly mix the separated out materials before applying the varnish the resultant layer of applied varnish could streak or turn white. If this has happened you must remove the varnish with the correct solvent and start again.

Underbound paint layers, i.e. areas of paint that do not have enough binder will cause varnish to sink in creating a varnish/no varnish streaking effect across your painting. If this is happening you may want to consider completing an isolation coat before you begin to varnish. Please come into St Luke and talk to a st lukette if this is an issue as it is always case sensitive and there are many factors that cause this problem. If you are using acrylics please follow the link below to see some information available on Golden’s youtube channel.

To varnish properly you need a specialty varnishing brush. St Luke recommends a synthetic short handled brush with very fine hair filaments. A varnishing brush should always be used for varnishing alone and great care needs to be taken to clean it thoroughly, then form it back into shape and store it for the next occasion.

St Luke stocks the full range of Langridge and Golden Varnishes. Our store catalogue is now online and can be accessed here on our blogspot.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Black and White Pigments

Got any Blacker?

It's not all black and white, there are shades of grey too. Grey areas can happen if you are not sure you have the right black or white when you are making art. St Luke is in Collingwood so we know how to dress in black and white and how to paint with these tricky pigments.

BONE BLACK Pigment Black 9

Ivory black has a cool bluish undertone and was utilised in painting by Rembrandt. Ivory black is traditionally made by the charring of animal bones, getting it's title "Ivory" form the burning of waste ivory bones. Also known as Bone Black this pigment

LAMP BLACK Pigment Black 6

Lamp Black is one of the oldest pigments and has been in use since pre-historic times. Light and fluffy it is also confusingly known as Carbon Black although it does not have the same production method or properties as Pigment Black 7. it is produced from the soot of burning oils.

CARBON BLACK Pigment Black 7

Intense and Velvety, t

his pigment makes beautiful pigmented ink and is recommended for use with water

based binders (i.e. watercolour and acrylic) as it is a thirsty pigment and slow drying. Made from the carbonising of oils, woods or vegetable matter. Pigment black 7 is a form of Carbon Black that was invented in America by burning natural gas and came into use around 1884, this pigment is one of the blackest blacks.

Also known as Furnace Black.


Pigment Black 11

A high

performance black that is creamy, dense and opaque. Mars is one of the fastest drying of all the blacks. It has a warm brown undertone and is recommended as a superior oil painting black as it is least likely to sink into the substrate once painted out. Also known as Iron Oxide Black

TITANIUM WHITE Pigment White 6

Trying to hide? Titanium White is very opaque and gutsy.

When painting pure white, this colour is the best option. Its tinting strength is high

when mixed with other colours and can tend to bleach out your palette, choose zinc as

your mixing white. The warmest of all the whites, Titanium White is a necessary staple

for all artists, ideal as a pure white highlight.

ZINC WHITE Pigment White 4

First manufactured in 1781 by Chemist Bernard Courtois as an alternative to the lead

based Flake White. Zinc is a semi transparent pigment with a slightly cold, bluish tinge.

Also known as permanent white or Chinese white, Use this pigment to create clean tints

when mixed with other colours.

FLAKE WHITE Pigment White 1
Made from lead, Flake White is one of the earliest manufactured pigments and its popularity only wained when other white pigments were introduced in the early 1900's. Flake white imparts a beautiful warm reddish yellow undertone and is popular for portrait painting because of its hiding power and delicate glow. The painter Lucian Freud is known for using this pigment. Also known as Lead White or Cremnitz White.

Ralph Mayer, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques.