Misadventures with varnish

I like experimenting. It keeps life interesting. You discover something new and get excited. It advances the world, ushers in a new era of new found knowledge expanding the horizon of human understanding.

It does not come without a cost though. Sometimes the cost is too much to bear. You start questioning your life decisions while drowning in a sea of your tears. Lots of tears I might add.

Part of experimenting is failing. Oftentimes miserably. I wanted to try out the Conservar Isolating Varnish. I had read about how it is great for isolating the paint film from the final varnish. So, if your painting got dirty or damaged and needed to be restored, you could easily remove the final layer of varnish without dissolving/damaging your painting. What could go wrong?

Little did I know it had really powerful solvents and made the mistake of applying a thick layer with a fat brush. Which would have probably been fine had I not accidentally brushed over already varnished areas again.

The varnish dissolved the top layer of my painting and brushing over it accidentally caused the layers beneath to show up. I guess the fact that my varnish brush was turning blue should have alerted me to stop and asses what I was doing. Lesson learned.

Now I understand why artists stress so much about not brushing over already varnished areas even if some spots were left dry. You can go over those spots when you apply the second layer of varnish.

I am a bit sad that my painting got damaged and I will need to retouch it. But (because I didn’t learn my lesson) I am also excited about painting thin layers (glazing) over the isolating varnish and seeing what kind of affect it will have. Maybe the painting will be as luminous as the old master paintings!

I don’t recommend you try this at home. Painting over a reversible varnish layer means your top paint layer will become removable and will get off the painting when you try to restore the painting . Oh, did I mention it makes it really hard to restore a painting?

My plan is to paint over the isolating varnish. Use more isolating varnish over that paint film then go over the whole thing with regalrez varnish. This should keep all the layers of my painting safe if it needs to be restored later on. Regalrez will come off with Gamsol (or any other odorless mineral spirit). Conservar varnish, I will need more powerful solvents which should (theoretically anyway) keep the paint film intact.

I plan to keep this one in my private collection so I feel safe experimenting with it but I’m making dua as I try to think through my blood soaked tears that this painting will turn out even more amazing than before.

I will post pictures of the painting before and after varnish . See if you can figure out where the paint film dissolved into the varnish .