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    All images are Copyright Protected and the property of Jamie Williams Grossman. Paintings and photos displayed on this site may not be reprinted, copied, downloaded, displayed elsewhere, or used for any reason without her written permission.

    ------------------------------------- CUSTOMER REVIEWS

    "OMGGGGG, Jamie!!!! It's absolutely amazinggggggg!!!!!! I loveeeeee it!!!!!! This is sooo much more than I could have imagined!!! Thank you!!!!"

    "It's spectacular, Jamie!!! How talented you are! We absolutely love it! And you are right-the frame is just perfect for it! "

    "Happy" with it is an understatement! My sister's husband said, "Wow, it's beautiful!" That's a lot of emotion coming from him! haha. And my adult daughter said, "OMG MOM, ITS GORGEOUS!". You have added to your fan club!

    "Jamie, your painting arrived in perfect condition! And, as I expected, it looks even better ‘in person’ than on the computer screen. Thank you so much for your careful packing and wonderful painting."

    "...Today I finally surprised [my wife] with the actual painting! It is her birthday! And I just wanted to let you know the we both absolutely love it!! She was so so surprised, and just speechless.... Thank you again for being so flexible and good to work with! It was such a joy preparing for today and I appreciated your professionalism throughout the process!"

    "I love the new painting! It's actually a little more golden and fluid than it looks in the pic and I love the movement; everything in my house is a little on the warm and yellow and gold side so it could hang pretty much anywhere. It's going to the framer shortly and I look forward to having it up :-)"

    "Jamie, it's lovely!!! Thank you so much for all the time and love you've put into it! You have no idea how much joy your work is bringing to me. I'm very grateful!"

    "I just wanted to share that my father-in-law absolutely LOVES your painting. He loves the frame and said that he's never owned a real oil painting. ???? But most importantly, he loves the subject matter and he and my husband spent a lot of time reminiscing this morning about hikes they took there years ago. This part of the Hudson is, by far, their favorite! Thank you SO much for making this Christmas gift PERFECT."

    "Your paintings of my beloved Hudson Valley are stunning! I've always loved Hudson River paintings, and can't believe that I've found someone who is following in the great tradition of Cropsey and company! "

    "We received your painting yesterday and it's really very beautiful. Thank you again very much."

    "Your beautiful "Autumn at Rockwood" arrived in perfect condition two days ago. It is even more lovely in person than I ever could have imagined. Thank you so much for your artistry and your many kindnesses to me..... I will treasure both of my paintings very much ..."

    "I'm more than happy, I'm thrilled!"

    "I just wanted to let you know that I received [the painting] today! It is beautiful, thank you so much:)"

    "Your [miniature] Caillebotte arrived today. Wow, it's WAY better seeing it in person than viewing an image/photo of it. Spectacular..... Thank you so much!!"

    "It's beautiful. Thank you so much!"

    "Oh, Jamie! It is fabulous!!!!!!! I love it!"

    "Hi Jamie, I received painting yesterday. It's really beautiful! Thank you for sending so quickly. I'm sure it will give my friend hope and strengthen as she faces this battle with Parkinson's. Thank you!"

    "Jamie, My painting arrived Thursday and I love it. I will definitely order from you again."

    "[They] love the painting. They were so surprised. They really appreciate it and the thought and artistry behind it. They received many [wedding] gifts, and said this was one of their two favorites."

    "[My husband] loved loved loved the painting! It is hanging on the wall in my great room. It's just beautiful!"

    "Hi Jamie! The beautiful paintings arrived safe and sound this afternoon. I love them! (Boy you don't mess around with packing them ;) Thank you."

    "Hi Jamie –I thought you’d enjoy seeing “The Red Barge” framed. Until I give it to my husband on his birthday, I have it hanging in my office. I LOVE looking at it all day!"

    "I received the painting this morning. It is SO FANTASTIC!!!!!! I wish I would have had it done larger. Thank you! thank you!"

    "The East from Hunter Mountain painting arrived the other day. It made it through the snow and looks great. Thanks for everything."

    "Jamie, my wife and I love it. Thank you and great work. It was difficult trying to figure out a special gift for them......I'm very happy that I reached out to you. I know they will love the painting and the special touch you did with the card! "

    "Wow, it looks AMAZING! They are going to love it. I love the name too. Perfect. ... Thanks again!"

    "Your lovely painting of a sweet bird, framed beautifully, arrived last week.... I just adore it!!... I see it and injoy its beauty every day! Thank you so much!"

    "The painting is beautiful! I love it! "

    "Just a quick note to let you know your [miniature] Monet arrived in perfect condition. It looks fabulous!!! Thank you again so much."

    ------------------------------------------ If you haven't seen the two-DVD set, "The Impressionists", you don't know what you're missing!


    I rented it from Netflix and absolutely loved it. It is an enactment of the lives of Monet, Renoir, Manet, Cezanne, Degas, and other Impressionist painters living at that time around Paris. Fascinating and eye-opening!


I have 22 freshly varnished oil and acrylic paintings in these drying racks. Over the past several days they’ve been getting isolation coats and varnish coats. Many artists who paint in both mediums have asked me for information on my varnishing process, so I thought I’d take some time today to describe my process.

There are several different products that can be used to obtain a variety of finishes depending on personal artistic preferences. I love gloss varnish. It pops the colors and values and gives a shiny, professional appearance. I have chosen products to yield that result. There are many other good products on the marketplace too.


I start with Golden Soft Gel (Gloss) and relatively soft, synthetic brushes to do an isolation coat on the acrylic paintings. Oil paintings do not require this step. I use the small container shown above to measure. The Gel gets diluted two parts Gel to one of water. I mix it up thoroughly in a styrofoam bowl.

I clean off the painting surface with a lint free rag to be sure there are no dust particles on the surface. Then each dry acrylic painting gets a thin coating, following the direction of the brushstrokes. One coat is generally enough to seal a relatively non-porous surface, such as my sealed, primed hardboards. Rag paper and matboard, even if sized before painting, generally requires 2-3 thin coats. You can tell when you’ve put on enough coats because the surface develops a soft sheen.

Many acrylic painters make the mistake of eliminating the isolation coat. That results in too much varnish penetrating through the surface of the support, and can cloud your painting. Also, it will leave an uneven finish. Putting on enough isolation coats to prevent penetration of the varnish yields a beautifully even gloss. It is well worth the additional steps! The second isolation coat can be applied several hours after the first if necessary. Be sure the first coat is dry, and not tacky.


I like the Soluvar Gloss Varnish a lot for both oil and acrylic paintings. Be sure your oil paintings are completely dry before varnishing. That will generally take 6-12 months. Acrylic paintings can be varnished as soon as the isolation coat has cured. In dry, room temperature conditions, that should only take a few days.

Soluvar varnish is removable for cleaning, non-yellowing, and gives a great sheen. I used to use Gamvar, but found I had some adhesion problems on sections of some of my oil paintings, and the varnish would bead up as it was applied. I have not had that problem with Soluvar. I use the large, natural hair brush above for paintings 12×16 and larger, and the smaller natural/synthetic blend brush for smaller works. You need to work quickly with varnish before it dries.

I pour a small amount into a ceramic pot that I reserve for varnishing. I dip the bottom section of the brush in and wipe some off on the side of the pot. Varnish your painting section by section, overlapping sections as you go. I lie them face up once done until they are tacky. Although varnish should be applied too thin to drip, I always take that precaution. It’s better to be safe than sorry!


I got inexpensive, small letter holders (above) at Staples, and each can hold five paintings upright. They are only a couple of dollars each, and about 4″ tall. I bought them a couple at a time as I needed more and more of them. Once the paintings have tacked up, I set them in the letter holders. The first photo in this post shows what the paintings look like when they are set into a series of these letter holders.

You can also see on that first image, that a fan above the paintings draws the solvent fumes out of the room while I work. I have another fan on the other side of the room, by an open door to the garage, that helps push air across the room and out. That way, my paintings will dry faster and I can simultaneously vent the fumes out of my work space.

Once the paintings are varnished, I give them a couple of days to dry fully (in dry weather) before framing them. I hope this little demo helps some of you who have been struggling with varnishing. If you’ve been avoiding it, you’ll find it’s a lot easier than you thought, and the result is well worth the little bit of time and effort. Your paintings will glow with a new life!

You can read more about varnish application techniques in this article on the Golden website.

12 Responses to “How I Varnish Oil and Acrylic Paintings”

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for the post. I’m curious about your rack, was that made for you? I can’t tell how the paintings are being held. Can you provide a little more info? Thanks!

Lori, I took a photo of it and put it into the post for you. I hope that helps!


Hi Jamie, after reading your article about varnishing I went out and bought Golden Soft
Gel to use as an isolation coat but it says on the label “not to be used as an isolation coat”
Any idea why? I presume you’ve had no problems with it or you wouldn’t have recommended it.

Margaret, the Golden Soft Gel (Gloss) is the one you need as an isolation coat, diluted about 1 part Gel to 2 parts water. My guess is that you either got the semi-gloss or the matte version instead. Here is the quote from the Golden website on their materials:

Soft Gels – Thinner than GOLDEN Heavy Body Acrylic colors, Soft Gels are moderately pourable. Hold only slight peaks. The recommended acrylic to function as a glue for collaging. Soft Gel Gloss is ideal for glazing and other techniques where transparency is desired. Useful as a non-removable isolation coat, applied over the painting and before the varnish (must be thinned with water – 2 parts Soft Gel Gloss to 1 part water).

Perhaps wherever you got it from, they will let you switch it for the Gloss version.

The Golden website is a wonderful resource for artists. It goes into great detail with all sorts of subjects ranging from application procedures for their own products, to support preparation. There is a link to their site in the “Links” section on my right sidebar. —>


Hi Jamie, thanks for explaining to me. I will exchange it – had no idea the level of gloss would make a difference. Who would have thought?

Margaret, my guess is that the matte medium is not quite as clear as the gloss, and of course as an isolation coat, you want it to be as transparent as possible. If you don’t like a glossy finish, you can always elect to use a matte or semi-gloss varnish over the top in order to make that adjustment in sheen. Personally, I love that glossy, glass-like finish. I feel it brings out the depth to the color and pops the values better. If you go with a gloss varnish, just be sure to photograph your work before you varnish, or you may get a lot of glare in your photos.


Correction: In my first reply to Margaret three comments up, I gave an incorrect ratio of Golden Soft Gel (Gloss) to water for the isolation coat. I am unable to edit comments to change that. It should be two parts Gel to one part water. Ratios stated in the post itself, and in my quote from the Golden website, are correct.

I have a problem with the varnish on my acrylic painting. I made an isolation coat using the gloss medium when the painting was done (I did this in one layer). then I went over it with two coats of the soluvar gloss varnish. The problem is that the initial coat was more matte in some areas (i guess it was applied thinner and i should have done two coats). so now it looks all uneven. I cant get the sheen to be consistent. I want to try everything possible without stripping off the soluvar layers and starting over. is it possible to apply a soluvar matte finish over it to even the sheen and then apply yet another gloss coat (i love the gloss coat and the vibrancy of the colors as well)… or will the matte finish permanently change the finish? I just need the finish to be even.

Hi Jamie thanks for the post. For some time now I’ve been looking for a more convenient way to varnish my acrylic abstract paintings. I generally use to use a non filming solution with water mixed into a sprayer applicator. This wasn’t always the best method so reading your post was most helpful thanks for sharing.

Pelham, did you wait a few days for the gloss medium isolation coat to dry completely before applying the varnish? Was there an even sheen over the painting after the isolation coat? It is possible that your painting may have needed more than one isolation coat, if you were working on a more absorbent support.

As far as what to do now, I’d suggest you contact Liquitex (makers of Soluvar) and ask them, as I’ve not had that problem.

I’m so glad you found it helpful, Fabrizio.

Hi Jamie,
Thank you for the very helpful post! I’m wondering if the same isolation coat and varnish can also be used on an acrylic painting that incorporates newspaper and magazine clippings. I’m guessing that it would work just fine since the Golden Soft Gels can also be used for collaging… Any suggestions?

Something to say?