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Aesthetics of Varnishing Transparent Watercolor

17 thoughts on “Aesthetics of Varnishing Transparent Watercolor”

  1. As a watercolor painter, I have to judge the results against the benefit of framing without glass. Thank you to Golden for continuing research on the use of acrylic materials in watercolor.

    Reply
    • Hello Nancy,
      We are glad you find presentations of our research helpful. One of our goals with this article was to help artists understand potential changes. By surrounding each varnished section with unvarnished watercolor, the test emphasizes the changes that occur. Varnishing an entire painting removes this “before and after” comparison, and resulting changes might appear less dramatic. The best way to see whether the alterations are acceptable for you, is to create your own testing to see what happens with the papers and paints you are using. Should you have any questions, please give us a call at Golden Tech Support!
      Best Regards,
      Cathy

      Reply
    • Hello Mike,
      Thank you! Thank you also for the link to your informative article. We believe varnishing watercolors may offer an alternative option for painters, and through our research we hope to clarify some of the changes that varnishing might create. We plan to expand testing to include more colors in the future.
      Best Regards,
      Cathy

      Reply
  2. Wow! That’s a significant color shift!
    That’s disappointing because museum glass is so expensive!

    Sigh.

    C’mon, Golden chemists! You can do it! Give watercolorists an alternative to museum glass!

    Reply
    • Hello Janet,
      Thank you for your input. We will be doing more testing, and we are always looking for ways to improve our products. We will keep your request in mind! Non-glare UV protectant museum glass or Plexiglas-style acrylic glazing seem the best way to protect without altering the aesthetics or nature of the original watercolor painting. Varnishing almost always changes the way that artwork appears, whether that artwork is a watercolor, acrylic, or oil painting. In this test, we placed strips of unvarnished watercolor on both sides of the varnished sections to emphasize the differences. We have found that the changes are less noticeable when the entire work is varnished, as the original no longer exists for direct comparison.
      Happy painting,
      Cathy

      Reply
    • Hello Bonnie,
      Yupo is extruded from polypropylene pellets, and acrylics do not adhere well to polypropylene plastics. We have not tested Archival Varnish on Yupo, however since Archival Varnish is also an acrylic, we suspect there might not be permanent adhesion. Should you wish to do adhesion testing of your own, you might paint watercolor on a piece of Yupo, allow it to dry, and spray the surface with Archival Varnish. Use enough sprayed varnish layers to seal the surface, let the varnish dry, and then do a cross hatch adhesion test. The article “Test for your Application” contains information on doing a cross-hatch adhesion test. As for changes in color and surface, we suspect they will be similar to what happens in this test, although on the smooth surface of Yupo there might be noticeable brush marks from the application of diluted MSA or Polymer Varnish. The textured surface of cold pressed watercolor paper helps diminish the impact of brush application.
      We hope this is helpful, and please give GOLDEN Tech Support a call if you have more questions.
      Best Regards,
      Cathy

      Reply
    • Hello Lynn,
      We have found that any coating over a painting is likely to change the aesthetic qualities. Using multiple layers of Archival Varnish Gloss without an isolation coat may allow the changes to be less noticeable. We would suggest testing over dark and saturated washes as well as over the paper itself to see if the potential changes to the artwork are acceptable. We hope this is helpful!
      Happy painting,
      Cathy

      Reply
  3. Putting a watercolor painting under any glass changes the appearance of the painting (brightening, deepening and glare) though not permanently.
    I would be interested if your tests included comparing varnish against glass/acrylic, in addition to the bare watercolor painting.
    Archival varnishing seems quite legitimate, especially if removable. Oil painters take advantage of the removable protective quality and aesthetic changes archival varnishing contributes to a painting without needing to call the work multimedia. It seems like a long time coming for watercolorists to have this same tool, and for it to be considered an advantage to a watercolor painting rather than re-labeling the resulting work as multimedia.

    Reply

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