Sealing your work is important and you’ve got a lot of options when it comes down to it. One question I get asked a lot is ‘can you use Mod Podge on oil paint?”. While it’s not the preferred medium for sealing, Mod Podge acrylic seal is advertised as being effective for both acrylics and for oil-based paints, so you should be okay doing this. Still, call me old-fashioned, but I prefer a traditional varnish any day of the week when it comes to oils.
Today I’ll tell you a little more about sealing your oils, whether or not you can decoupage oil paint, and a bonus-bit we’ll talk about making your oils glossier – because gloss rocks!
Let’s talk about preserving and presenting those oils!
What do you seal oil paint with?
First off, before you go and varnish your oil painting, you want to wait at least 3 months – though I recommend waiting at least 6 and some artists will even wait a year! This is because the process of drying and curing for oils is a very slow one and you don’t want to varnish it too soon.
After that, you can go with the varnish of your choice. I like gloss varnishes, as they make your work shiny and the colors look a little deeper, but it also makes your work a little more reflective so it’s a matter of personal tastes. You can go with a satin varnish, and that won’t be as shiny but it still looks good and protects your work, or you can go with a matte finish or even a matte mixed with gloss.
Even though you’ll have to wait awhile, it’s best to mark your calendar, since varnishing is what’s going to protect your work and ensure that you’ll be enjoying it for many years to come (and if you varnish it, so will your kids and their kids, etc etc).
Can I decoupage over oil paint?
This would be an experiment better suited for acrylics. Oil paints dry to the touch after about 24 hours, but they also need months to cure, and so decoupage over oil paint is probably not the best idea. Plus, your standard Mod Podge used for decoupage is water based and so it’s really not a good fit for oils.
Granted, there are some special type of Mod Podge available these days and the clear acrylic variety is touted as being able to seal and otherwise work with oils, but I haven’t tried it myself that way and so I really can’t recommend it.
You’d have better luck with acrylics, which are also water-based, and that way you aren’t mixing oil and water-based mediums in the same spot. Generally that combination is going to give you grief (at least in my own personal experience), so I can’t really recommend it.
What can I add to oil paint to make it glossy?
The best way to make your oil painting glossy doesn’t really have to do with paint additives. You can simply select a high gloss varnish. Glossy varnish is my personal favorite and it will deepen up your colors nicely and make your painting look shiny and a wee bit reflective.
As far as additives for the paint itself, damar works well and you can also try liquin, as both of these will make the paint shiny right off of the palette. There are also some specific oil paints that you can get, such as Schmincke Mussini, that already incorporate a little damar in them and which will be shinier than your usual paints if you don’t feel like mixing in the damar or liquin yourself – it’s all up you.
Personally, my favorite is still just the glossy varnish. After you’ve waited a good 6 months for the oils to cure, varnishing it up and seeing that final shine and vibrant coloration feels little bit like Christmas and your birthday, all rolled up into one!
Some closing words on sealing your oil paints
So, can you use Mod Podge on oil paint? You could conceivably use the clear acrylic seal, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The stuff is water-based and I don’t like to mix oil and water-based products, even if the fine print says it should work. It’s better to go with what you know, by sticking to standard varnish after you’ll allowed the paint to properly dry and cure.
That’s just my personal preference, of course, so feel free to experiment if you are so inclined!
I’ll be leaving now, but I’ve got a 3rd party link for you that will tell you about sealing acrylics and oil pastels. You can find it here and I hope that you will enjoy it. After all, you can’t have too many art tricks, can you?