Once you’ve finished your paint-layering on your work, do you really have to seal it? If you’re wondering when to clear coat acrylic paint then the answer is simple. As soon as you have completed your acrylic painting you need to apply protection. Varnishing the painting is going to help keep the UV rays from fading your painting and it will help to minimize dust and yellowing as well, so it’s important to add that protective coat as soon as possible.
Today I’ll tell you a little more about why this is so important, as well as tell you a little about what constitutes a good top coat, and finally what can happen if you decide not to varnish your painting.
Without further ado, I present the reasons behind those extra sealing steps!
Do you need to clear coat acrylic paint?
Yes. You will definitely want to add that protective layer, which is most commonly going to be done with varnish or an enamel. Acrylic paintings tend to attract dust, even when varnished, and that’s a good enough reason on its own. The last thing that you want is dust compromising your work or any moisture getting in between those particles and working mischief on your layers of paint.
If you don’t like the idea of varnishing, I’ll share a little tidbit that might help you to feel better about it. Aside from all the protection that it provides, varnish is actually designed to be occasionally removed. You want to think about your art from a long-term perspective and this will make good sense.
As time goes by, dust and yellowing effects can start to build, and when that happens then you can simply remove that varnish, do some touching up, and revarnish the piece to protect it again. It’s all about extending the lifespan of the art that you’ve just created – you owe it to yourself to complete your work by protecting it for the future.
What is a good top coat for acrylic paint?
The sealing process is going to depend on a lot of factors. First off, you need to decide the type of varnish that you will be using. This is going to boil down to either the brush-on or the spray variety. Spray is quick and you can get fairly even applications with a little practice, while brushing is a little slower but you have a lot more control. These options are available for varnish or enamel, whichever you prefer to use.
Next, there are some different types of varnish, and we’ll use polymer and resin as examples. I like acrylic resins because they are clearer and have a nice gloss to them that I feel compliments the work a little better. You do want to apply it in a well-ventilated area though, because the caveat of that good looking resin is that you’ll get toxic fumes (and you’ll want to be careful about dumping the cleaning water from your brushes).
Acrylic polymers don’t have this problem, as they are non-toxic, but if you want to go with those then I recommend applying an isolation coat. This is a gel-coat that provides an extra layer separating your paint from your varnish, and this allows for easy removal of the varnish whenever you like. That way, if you don’t like how the varnish looks you can do the coat again with relative ease.
Either of these options can provide great results but if you don’t mind the smell, I recommend the resin. The gloss level of the finish, however, I’ll leave up to you!
What happens if you don’t varnish an acrylic painting?
So, what happens if you decide not to varnish anyway? The best way to drive the point home is to look for a time-lapse video on YouTube that demonstrates the accumulation of dust over a long period of time. As the years go by, things like smoke, dust, and even gross things like particulates from coughing or sneezing in the room where your art is housed all end up on that painting.
Next, consider that you’ve got layers on that painting, and now you’ve got particulates getting into that as well, creating nice, uneven surfaces that are excellent at catching moisture. Also, assuming your painting is in a room with windows, you’ve got invisible UV light fading your colors slowly, but effectively.
It’s a recipe for disaster. Varnishing your art once you’ve gotten that paint on canvas is vital if you want to continue enjoying it for a long time. After all, you’ve spent hours putting it on that canvas, why not preserve your work?
When it’s taken care of, that acrylic painting has the potential to last CENTURIES, due to the synthetics used in its composition. That means generations of your own family can be enjoying your art for a long, long time.
Besides, varnish and enamels are cheap and easy to apply… so don’t be lazy!
Protect your work.
So, as a quick recap, if you’re wondering when to clear coat acrylic paint, the answer is ‘as soon as you’ve completed your work’. Protecting your paintings is not just a good idea, it’s really the ONLY idea. That varnish keeps the sun and other elements out and if you ever need to, you can remove it easily to revarnish your painting after you’ve freshened it up to your liking.
For a little more info on varnishes, you can check out this 3rd party link and get some great additional info that I didn’t have the space in this article to share today. Whatever option you choose, just make sure that your work is protected!