Sunday, 30 May 2010

VARNISH - I love you, I hate you!'s been quite a cold day thanks to the icy breeze outside.....definitely cardigan/jumper weather. I've been wearing my ugg boots all day. 

I've been getting a little painting done over the past couple of weeks.  I can't show you just yet as they are Pay It Forward gifts but I can show you this little canvas.  It WAS meant to be for one of my Pay It Forward recipients until I went and ruined it.  I had already given it a couple of coats of varnish but, as is typical with me, I just can't leave well enough alone and I decided to give it another coat just for safe measure....BIG MISTAKE!  That final coat seemed to develop a few little white particles within the varnish layer as it dried.  I have a love/hate relationship with varnish.  For the most part it works great while other times it's a disaster.  Do you have a favourite, fool-proof varnish you like to use for your artwork?

 I can certainly use it for display in my own home as I'm used to my own cast-offs but I just wouldn't feel right gifting it to someone else.  So, now I'm working on a totally different design for this particular Pay It Forward recipient.  Maybe it's just as well because there was something about this piece I just wasn't happy with.  I don't think I like the brush marks showing through from the foundation layer either but that might be just me. It was a difficult piece to photograph for some reason so it looks much better in reality than it does in the photo.

~ Shine on me ~
acrylics on 5"x7" gallery wrapped canvas
© Serena Lewis

ADDED NOTE - This picture was taken before the varnish application. I generally use either Jo Sonja Satin Polyurethane water-based, brush-on varnish OR I use Krylon Matte 1311 Spray varnish.  For the most part, I LOVE working with these varnishes. Nine times out of ten, they work great with no probs.  Sometimes, I find that certain Matisse paints will react to the Jo Sonja varnish so I tend to use the spray varnish when I've used Matisse paints as was the case with this particular piece.  In this case, I think it's been the  spray application somehow...maybe too far away from the piece?  Or maybe I didn't shake the can enough before spraying....not really sure.  I may try spraying it again to see if it makes any difference.

I'm feeling much better now as the asthma seems to have settled down a lot.  The turfing job was delayed until tomorrow due to the rainy days we had last week.  Hopefully, the airborne dirt won't kick start another asthma attack but I'll be keeping all the windows and doors closed just to be on the safe side.

I hope you've all been enjoying a lovely weekend!

~ love, light and peace to you all ~


  1. shame about the varnish :/ but i love the light on the flowers :D

  2. I can't see the white particles. Love these flowers--the way you can get them to look like the sun in shining thru the petals! It's gorgeous! I know you're a perfectionist, but this is gorgeous! :)

    Glad you're finally feeling better. Keep the place closed up--yes! Don't want to set the asthma off again. Hope they get the sod down soon. That will help with the dust blowing about. :)

  3. Oh what a shame this piece didn't turn out like you wanted. But it's gorgeous anyway, and you can send it directly to me at...............;o)
    Hope your asthma stays calm for awhile!

  4. I hate to admit that I use craft varnish. On a few pieces I have used a now unavailable floor varnish that worked for paper/paint also. Ceramcoat is pretty good; and I always try and remember to photograph BEFORE I get the varnish out.....
    I have some decent quality white bristle gessoing brushes that normally work well to lay on the varnish.
    I still think this is a lovely piece!!! ♥


  5. Hi Serena,
    I really can't see anything wrong with this piece. Are you showing us the varnished piece?
    I loooovvvve it and would greatly appreciate this gift as a "pay it forward"

    My favourite Varnish is Chroma-Jo Sonja's Polyurethane Water Based Varnish.

    I do have a suggestion-I recently saw a piece of work that was varnished using a slip slap motion.
    You could really see the brush marks in the varnish and it was quite unusual!
    Yes, I know this sounds odd but it was quite a piece and maybe you could try it out on this piece.
    Good luck,
    Happy Painting,

  6. It is beautiful. Love the color palette and composition. We are are usually own worst critics. Serena you are so talented. Can't believe this is a cast off.

  7. Thanks for the input, everyone.

    The picture was taken before the varnish application. I generally use either Jo Sonja Satin Polyurethane Water-based brush-on varnish OR I use Krylon Matte 1311 Spray varnish. For the most part, I LOVE working with these varnishes. Nine times out of ten, they work great with no probs. Sometimes, I find that certain Matisse paints will react to the Jo Sonja varnish so I tend to use the spray varnish when I've used Matisse paints as was the case with this particular piece. However, I don't think it was the paint this time....I think it's been the application somehow...not really sure. I may try spraying it again to see if it makes any difference. Thanks again for your suggestions.

  8. I always love your paintings and this piece is no exception.

    When I worked with wooden boxes and had some issues with varnish (which was every time :) ) I used a very fine sandpaper to smooth anything , any particles, wiped clean and added more varnish but make sure that previous layer are solid dry before using sandpaper.

  9. Hi Serena, I love these flowers. I usually use Jo Sonja or Atelier varnish. Sometimes I also use Micador spray varnish if I dont want brush marks or if I am doing a lot of fiddly bits like en masse xmas ornaments. Sometimes if it is very cold or very hot I have had troubles too. Seems like it has its own temperament at times.

  10. I think it's great. I love the white of the flowers and the dark blue background with the limey green is totally awesome. Great work! Have a great week.

  11. This is just beautiful Serena...too bad about the varnish but the painting itself is really lovely...quite etherial.

    I'm glad you're feeling better now and hope it've had such a difficult time with your asthma this past year.

  12. Bummer about the varnish. But wow!!! What a gorgeous painting!
    It's beautiful and looks so 3-dimensional with the light in just the right places.
    You are indeed an inspiration!!

  13. So luminescent, and full of gentle, blue-tinted peace. Your cast-offs are fine art, Serena. :)

    It's wonderful to hear you're feeling better, and crossing my fingers about the turf job not stirring up the asthma again. If it gets bad, do you have a plan for where you could go hang out for a few hours while the dust settles? Maybe you could take an artist date...

  14. Oh Serena! this piece is dynamic! i love it...and I don't imagine that you'd cast it 'off' even if there are a few bubbles of unsettled varnish on it!

    maybe you shook the bottle too much...?

    either way...could you not put an aging layer of stain and then sand and scuff it in certain make it look like it wasn't an accident!

    enjoy your monday!

    ciao bella
    creative carmelina

  15. I think it is beautiful!

    I'm sorry your winter has begun.

  16. What a beutiful painting! I see you got your fav color in there...purple! This is just YOU!!!

  17. What a lovely piece! I also find it hard sometimes to let something be truely FINISHED - sigh.
    Surprising to *remember* you're heading into fall - been such a wet cold spring here, it doesn't feel much like the beginning of summer!
    One thing you might consider with the Asthma - gluten sensitivity! It's on Celiac Nurse's list of symptoms that may go unrecognized as connected to gluten. In the States, gluten is in SO MANY things it's challanging at times - but been SO GREAT to be GF!! is the link to some of her info on this (you can type ailments into the search box, & see which issues she's IDed!)
    I'm of the 'try going GF for a week or two, & see how you feel' school - our new receptionist was exhausted after lunch, & did that about a month ago . . . no longer tired, looking great, & still GF!

  18. Ergh! Sorry to hear about the varnish problem. Please ... don't spray it again. I tried that after a varnish incident with the Krylon spray last summer. The additional sprays didn't help, but actually made the paintings cloudy. I think it was a humidity issue here, but I sprayed 13 paintings all at the same time ... 6 were fine and 7 looked awful.

    Those 13 paintings were for a show and I needed to drop them off the following week. I got them redone, but of course didn't like any of them as well as the first go around. I've read articles both for and against using varnish, so I'm going to stick with the against and never use it again.

    Hope you continue to feel better. AND I agree with everyone that you are extremely talented and that painting looks amazing.

  19. Maybe it is the gods above...

    because my asthma and emphysema are much better now and I actually felt good the past two or three days.

    When I used to paint and sell my paintings all the time, I used a varnish made to work on any kind of paint but for the life of me I can't remember the name of it. Try this link for some of the secrets I practiced a long time ago.

    Living is so difficult these days.
    The cost of breathing is high.
    When I think how it used to be
    I think I'm gonna cry.

    Abraham Lincoln
    My Birds Blog

  20. By the way. I like the painting.

  21. Thanks for the wonderful thoughts and input.

    Carmelina - I may well consider your suggestion of aging and scuffing...I guess it can't hurt to try.

    Karen - Thankfully, I hadn't sprayed the piece again as I was considering options and, after your comment, I realise it may not be a wise idea. What a bummer that 7 of your paintings were ruined through varnish. How upsetting that would have been.

    Dia - Thanks for the info on Celiac Disease. My bronchial asthma condition is apparently hereditary and showed up when I was in my forties. I was totally fine prior to that which makes me think it may not be gluten intolerance. However, it is definitely worth taking into consideration. I'll be sure to check out the link, thanks.

    Meredith - Thanks for the concern. The turf has now been done and I'm still feeling much better. I think my preventer inhaler did it's job as well as lots of hot black tea.

    Kate - Thanks. Yes, ever since the severe dust storm we had back in October last year, my asthma has played up more consistently.

    Abe - So glad to hear that your troubles with asthma and emphysema have eased off. Thanks so much for the link re. varnish application....I will be sure to check it out.

  22. hey Serena! it's great to see Sheila and the donkeys over here too.... no matter that you are continents still is pertinent that we get the word out about animal cruelty and support those who do their best to stamp it out.

    I am pretty excited that they managed to raise that much money for the auction and birthday bash.... it will sure help care for all of the animals who have found their way to Primrose....

  23. wow! its so beautiful. I am glad I cant see the ruined version. I hope you can fix it.....

  24. But that is beautiful!!!