How I Finish my Paintings

I posted last about how I start a painting, so it only seems appropriate to tell you how I finish a painting. Everyone has their own set of final steps and mine have worked well for me for many years. It took a lot of experience and trial and error to develop a routine to get a consistent result.

A few weeks ago, I posted an underpainting with some evident energy that developed into the relatively calmer finished painting pictured below.

THUNDERHEAD…acrylic on canvas …8×24

I always use professional quality acrylic paints, usually Golden and Liquitex brands, to paint the image and finally glaze certain areas of the painting using paint combined with a Golden satin glazing liquid. This medium keeps the paint stable…diluting with water may make the paint less adhesive to the underlying layers.

I let the painting dry for at least 24 hours and then start the finishing system that protects the painting so it will last a long time.

The first step is to apply the isolation coat, a gloss barrier coat between the painting and the varnish. The gloss finish adds depth to the color and provides a uniform finish across the surface. Some acrylic paint colors have a glossy finish, some matte, some in between, so this step solves that issue. The isolation coat also protects the painting should the varnish layer be removed…the original paint will not be disturbed.

The second step is to paint the edges of the canvas a color if the original painting image is not continued around the edges of the canvas. I have done both, but I personally prefer a black edge.

The isolation coat needs to dry for 24 hours before I can apply the final varnish. For this, the third step, I use the Golden products above, by personal preference, mixing the gloss and satin finish products. I use a VERY soft brush, laying it down in one direction and letting it dry thoroughly before applying another coat. I gently dilute the varnish with water and this product just glides on. The final product dries to a uniform finish with good protection.

I follow these steps so that I can feel confident that I am offering my customer a complete and long lasting painting that they can enjoy for a long time…from the studio


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