I was in Quebec City last week and saw something interesting. I’ve been toying with using varnish for some time now. Although increasing the lifetime of a painting is certainly worthwhile I don’t want to use solvent based varnishes because of the smell. Acrylics are likely long lived just as they are so unless I want to equalise their reflectivity I don’t see the point. An artist in Quebec City is doing something different, he is applying varnish to highlight certain parts of the painting.
As a graphic artist I should have thought of this because printers use it quite a bit. I knew about it and used it a couple of times but it is expensive since you need two additional inks; one matte varnish and one gloss varnish. You need the matte varnish to ensure everything has a matte finish, then the gloss varnish prints on top. The two additional inks means a 6 colour press has to be used instead of a 4 colour press. Costly.
This particular artist used drips of gloss varnish on the background and painted some on areas he wanted to highlight. The effect of the gloss varnish is quite striking, it adds a great deal of life to a painting. I’m definitely going to start using this technique. Unfortunately it won’t photograph but a walk-by video might show it.