Matte and Glossy Finishes in Oil Painting


Matte and Glossy Finishes in Oil PaintingDo you love being able to manipulate the finish in oil painting, making it matte, glossy, or somewhere in-between?

Do you understand the differences between matte and glossy finishes in oil painting?

Understanding matte and glossy finishes in oil painting is easy once you grasp the basic principles. This article will help you understand matte and glossy finishes in oil painting.

Matte and Glossy Finishes in Oil Painting

There are some artists who believe in a very traditional approach to oil painting in that the finish should be consistently very glossy and well varnished.

There are others that prefer an all over matte finish and avoid varnishing at all. Still yet, there are some artists like myself who find it essential to have both matte and glossy areas within the same painting in order to add to the concept and dimensional quality of the rendering.

What are your preferences when it comes to the finish of your oil painting? My thoughts are listed in this article.

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  1. I prefer an all over matte finish so is it better to avoid varnishing? The problem is I am paranoid about dust adhering to the surface of a painting! Obviously I understand that varnish would keep dust at bay, except I cannot bring myself to apply something ‘alien’ to the surface of a painting. Also the application of varnish presumably prohibits future modification of the image. My solution thus far is to wrap the paintings in cloth then store them inside the boxes in which the canvasses arrived. If I wanted to exhibit them would a sheet of glass be ok to protect them from dust, or should I be using some kind of varnish?

    • Hello Richard and thanks for your excellent questions. I think you are too concerned about dust sticking to your paintings. Once an oil painting is completely dry (usually this takes about a year) dust will not permanently stick to the surface. You can just wipe off the dust with a clean cloth. No dust will adhere to the surface itself because the dry oil paint surface will be very hard. It will be exactly like the finish on a piece of furniture. And you can just dust your painting like you dust your furniture.
      Also, varnishes are not permanent and can be removed with any varnish remover. But wait at least 18 months before applying any varnish to allow the oil paints to completely dry.
      Thanks again.

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