I opened up windows downstairs this lovely spring weekend in order to do some varnishing. In the foreground is my triptych: Poppyscape, which has just been purchased. Behind it are several plein airs I'm entering into the Columbian Artists Juried Spring Show this month. Everything is laid out on the wrinkled sheet I use to protect furniture and the floor.
I've tried every type of artist varnish out there, including semi-gloss and matte versions, and have concluded that I prefer gloss. Why? It makes the painting look wet, as if I just finished it. If you've ever stood in front of a Van Gogh (and I have) you know that his paintings look like he just finished them. Example: I stood in front of a Van Gogh at SAM a couple of years ago, restraining myself from touching it (the museum guards would have put me in handcuffs), because it looked like he had just painted it, right down to a brush hair embedded in one glossy, broken brush stroke. It brought tears to my eyes and I cannot describe how I felt other than it was like Mr. Van Gogh was standing right next to me with his paintbrush in motion.
The varnish that gives me the best result in Winsor & Newton Artists' Gloss Varnish. It dries overnight leaving a glossy finish that can be removed later if needed. When my paintings finally hang, they look as if they were wet, which is exactly what I want!