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painting over varnished paper

Painting over varnished paper

I am doing a lot of work on paper and like experimenting with techniques that are modifying a bit the texture and water resistance qualities of the paper.

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life drawing classes in North Vancouver

This time I experimented with applying varnish over a drawing I made in our North Vancouver life drawing class.

Here is how you can try that technique:

1- paint a layer of varnish on top of your drawing

I used Gamvar varnish for this experiment. Gamvar is a varnish that is suitable for both water based and oil based media, so it is convenient if you like to work in mixed 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.


Once I painted over the paper, it made the paper a bit translucent at first, but that effect disappeared once the paper was dry.

my original drawing with varnish painted over

My original drawing with varnish painted over.  

Let the varnish dry overnight

2- Paint over the new varnished paper surface

Gamvar varnish won’t make the paper totally water resistant but you will get interesting textures on your washes.

The next step was to apply a light wash of Indian ink over the varnished paper.

The new paper surface makes a wash dry with interesting textures.

3- Add patterns with a marker if you want to.

Here is a video showing me paint the wash and working on some of the patterns.

The finished drawing

Social Fabric III

As always, I would like to hear from you in the comments, ask any question you have and share your drawings !

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