How to Varnish an Oil Painting

How to Varnish an Oil Painting

Hi everyone it’s Carole Rodrigue with
another art tip, and today we’re going to talk about how to varnish an oil painting
Do you need to varnish an oil painting? No. Should you varnish
oil painting? Yes, absolutely! Why? It unifies the painting. It
gives a nice glossy satin or matte finish depending on what you use. It also
brings all the richness of the pigment. It intensifies the pigments so to
speak. Varnishing protects against dust, dirt,
smoke, and other pollutants and it also gives your work a nice professional look. A
painting looks so much better when it’s professionally varnished. So, what do
I do? I first start by taking a dry clean brush and I wipe off any excess dust or
anything else that might be stuck on the canvas. So, I make sure that the
painting itself is absolutely clean before I begin to varnish. The
varnish that I prefer using is Gamvar by Gamblin. Why? Because I can varnish
an oil painting as soon as the paint is dry to the touch, and unlike traditional
varnishes you don’t have to wait six to 12 months. Also with retouch varnish,
it’s not a permanent varnish. Gamvar is a final varnish and you can put it on as
soon as the paint is dry.
So, you take an of varnish. Normally your painting
should be lying flat. I only have it standing up here for demonstration
purposes. So lay your painting flat. Start applying the varnish and make sure you
apply it vigorously and cover the whole painting. Don’t miss any part at all and
once that’s done, or while you’re applying, if you have too much varnish on your
brush you can you can get any excess off using a paper towel or cloth and get any
excess varnish off. You want to make sure that there is no varnish running off of
your painting. Once it’s all been applied, you want to lay your
painting flat somewhere where there won’t be any dust falling on it and away from
traffic, so a nice quiet area house where there’s nothing that’s going to disturb
it. And leave it laying flat. It should be dry within a day. I wait two to three days before
shipping. After three days, it’s usually perfectly fine to ship. And that’s it.
It’s easy and it’s a great varnish. It’s museum quality and it’s the only thing
I’ll use now. So that’s how easy it is to varnish an oil painting. So, good
luck! If you have any questions, just make sure to leave them in the comments below
and I’ll get back to you.


  • Carole Rodrigue says:

    Do you have any art questions? Leave them in the comments here or send me a video with your question through YouTube Unlisted and it will be featured in a future Q & A video!

  • Ela Steel says:

    Hi Carole- How many years have you been using the Gamvar? Do you have any long-term pros/cons to report re: yellowing, cracking, etc. I'm wary to switch varnishes, but applying as soon as the oils are touch-dry sure sounds tempting! (Hoping not in a 'too good to be true' type of way.)

    Thanks for the vid! 🙂

  • Ioanna Kyriazi says:

    Do those bubbles that form after brushing on the varnish dry like that?

  • Sara says:

    Hi Thankyou this is so helpful, but I have a question, does this type of varnish has a spray technic ? And if I just want to protect my painting and make its color strong without make it matte of glossy what should I do?

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