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How to apply an isolation coat to your paintings

How to apply an isolation coat to your paintings before varnishing

It is a good idea to apply an isolation coat on your paintings before varnishing.

Why?

  • I like that some varnish are meant to be removable. It is a good thing because if you change your mind after a painting has been varnished, you can take off the varnish with mineral spirit. This would not work with acrylic based varnishes which are permanent. The risk when taking off the layer of varnish is to remove some of the paint as well. To avoid that, you can seal your painting with an isolation coat before applying the varnish.
  • I am also sometimes a bit nervous about the way varnish can react with mixed media and want to make sure nothing is going to happen with the varnish or smudge when I apply it, an isolation coat will prevent that to happen.

You might also like: Mounting a watercolor painting on a cradled panel board, a step by step tutorial

Here is how to apply an isolation coat

apply spray fixative on top of your finished painting

Once your paint had enough time to dry thoroughly, I always recommend you apply a layer of spray fixative. You have to do it outside as you are not supposed to breathe that product. The fixative will fix any medium and prevent any smudging from happening.

In a container, pour a small quantity of acrylic medium.

In a container, pour a small quantity of acrylic medium.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

 

 

Liquitex Acrylic Mediums

Gel mediums are ideal for extending a heavy body paint, to create impasto, relief, or sculptural effects. – Gel Medium, Gloss

mix gel medium with water

Add about the same quantity of water. Try to not go over 50% water as this is the ratio at which the acrylic starts loosing its binding properties.

Mix the water and the acrylic medium

Mix the water and the acrylic medium very well in your container. You will get a milky liquid that will dry transparent.

Apply this mix with a soft brush.

Apply this mix with a soft brush.

Try not to go over the same area twice


Try not to go over the same area twice, this is very important as it could make some of your acrylic or ink smudge. Try to go fast and in one go.

Look against the light to see if you missed any part.

Look against the light to see if you missed any part.

let the painting dry overnight

At this point I like to let the painting dry overnight. Then you are ready to apply a layer of varnish. I recommend either Liquitex soluvar or Gamvar by Gamblin. Both are removable with mineral spirits and both are suitable for both oil or water-based media.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

 

Gamblin Gamvar Varnish

Gamvar is a synthetic resin gloss varnish developed by conservators at the National Gallery. It can be used on acrylic paintings as well as oils. Gamvar is a synthetic resin varnish with a high refractive index similar to that of natural resins.

 

when varnishing you can look against the light to see if you missed any part

Again when varnishing you can look against the light to see if you missed any part. Let the varnish dry and you are done!

what is an isolation coat

In Bilbao

Acrylic and mixed media on Claybord

12 x 12 inches