Friday, January 20, 2012

A Painter's Worst Nightmare

For years I have managed to dodge the bullet of varnishing nightmares, and every time I have to varnish a piece I do it very cautiously and with fear. A little bit of patience goes a long way too, and to my luck I have never had issues with dripping or uneven spots. I always tell people use a soft brush and you should be fine.
Unfortunately this was not my lucky day with varnish. Last night, for some reason I felt rushed to varnish a number of paintings and this morning as I walked into the studio I come across this dripping horror on my most cherished painting. I spent almost three years working on this still life and in one night I managed to ruin it.
Varnishing paintings on panel can be tricky because they show more imperfections and brush strokes than a work on canvas. Knowing this I tried varnishing this painting flat. After noticing I had missed a few spots I added more varnish on top with a little turpentine to reactivate the first layer so that both layers could meld together and not look blotchy in the final outcome. I knew it was too much varnish but I felt that keeping the painting flat would level it out, and it did at first. Besides, I was using a retouch varnish which tends to dry thinner than damar varnish.
I didn't give the painting enough time to dry flat, I thought a few minutes for retouch varnish would be enough, and it usually is since this type of varnish dries to the touch very quickly. I hung the painting back in its spot in the studio, and overnight the varnish started coming down, like clear lava and wrapping it's drippy lumpiness on half of the painting! So what now? I called a conservator today, still waiting to get a call back with an estimate which I was told should not cost much. All I know is that I will not try to remove this varnish myself, I don't want to risk ruining my three years work more than I already have. Wish me luck yall, I will post pictures once I get this mess fixed!

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