Thursday, 30 July 2015

GAMVAR TEST - Season for Ice Wine

I recently reviewed a small painting I did a couple of years ago and completely repainted it. SEASON FOR ICE WINE depicts the time when certain varieties of grapes are left on the vine through the fall and into the first frost. The picking is an icy experience, not for the faint-hearted. The process concentrates the juice and sweetens the grapes, so when the wine is produced it becomes a sweet sipping wine, delicious for drinking by an open fire in the longer nights to come.


If you've used acrylics, you will be aware that they dry darker, less vibrant and with uneven shine, so in my opinion they should always be varnished to bring them back to life. Gamvar made a huge difference to the colour of both paintings I tested and brought the finished look much closer to oil painting. I can see why this product is recommended by museums. I've used other gloss varnishes on acrylics and they also improve the look, but are thicker not as professional looking.

Instructions, a video and details for applying Gamvar here. Gamvar is a high gloss varnish,

This is the first time I've used GAMVAR archival varnish. It was developed by museums for both acrylic and oil paintings so I've also been excited to try it. The product is an archival high gloss varnish which can be removed, but not re-painted. I'm notorious for retouching paintings, so choosing a varnish which cannot be painted over is a big step for me. Applied neat, it gives a high gloss look, but varying degrees of matt to gloss finish can be achieved. This is addressed by the excellent table in the link above. It should be used in a well ventilated room or outdoors.

The product was a surprise, because it has a very thin consistency, almost like water. The look is super shiny, even though I used a sponge a few times to texturize and mattify as it dried. I can see how you wouldn't be able to paint over the surface, because it has an oily feel even when dry to the touch. The canvas panel didn't absorb the varnish, but it dried patchy, probably due to the multiple paints and mediums below, so I will probably apply a second coat with added Gamsol or Cold Wax Medium (CWM), to create a semi-gloss effect.

In the same session I varnished the grape painting from yesterday which is painted on canvas rather than canvas panel and is fresh paint rather than retouched. The varnish worked better on this surface and doesn't need a second coat. I mattified more vigorously than with the small painting, which seems to have taken the edge off the shine.

I'm now excited to try adding CWM to give a matte look. I've recently been refinishing some furniture with clay paint and I love the satin wax I've been using to finish the pieces, so I'm sure I would love that waxy finish on paintings. I will share the results in a blog when I do.

The painting above can be purchased at Daily Paintworks.

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