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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On a "clear" day . . .

Before I started my stationery company, Pendragon, Ink (many years ago!), I used to do a lot of painting. Painting was always fun. It kept me excited about life and and always thinking of the next canvas to cover or series to start. In a painting mindset, I noticed everything and was constantly ​taking notes or making sketches for the next day's endeavor.

One of my favorite parts was at the end when I often added a coat (or two or three) of gloss varnish to the surface of my (dry!) finished piece.

Just so you know, this is an occasional personal preference, not an absolute. I am not suggesting one has to varnish all their art! But this is an element on my palette of choices that I like the look of. I like how it can add depth and richness and increase color saturation. With a few coats it resembles those beautiful old paintings in museums that I love. Imagine, for example, an old table that you have just sanded, the wood all bare, and then you add a coat of varnish/shellac/urethane . . . what a difference!

Anyone who knows me, knows how quickly I do just about everything . . . I eat fast, cook fast, sew fast . . . well you get the picture. I paint with acrylics instead of oils for the same reason . . . Speed! But to me, acrylics seemed a bit flat or dull, so the varnish provided a look that the acrylic paint alone could not.

I was thinking about this the other day while I was tangling. "Hmm, I wonder what would happen if I varnished a tile?" But just to varnish a tiny tile every time the need arose would be a lot of work and clean-up . . . not what I wanted.

So I tried something different. I grabbed a bottle of clear nail polish and went to town! It was a dream come true! Here was this miniature handy-dandy brush, right in the the bottle, just the right size and I did not have to clean it afterwards! I had so many half filled bottles of all kinds of clear coats. The one I used here  has a very subtle pink tint to it, just a whisper. But it brought out a whole new feeling of life wherever I applied it.

These tiles have about 3 coats on them. The first coat seals the paper, the second adds a bit of luster (you can stop at this point) but I added another for depth. Wait for each coat to dry before putting on the next. Of course follow the directions on the bottle. I use this in a room where the smell won't bother anyone. (Molly tells me that I can also try ModPodge, a water based varnish, for a similar effect. Ah . . . another project to look forward to!)

You can see on this diptych (a 2-paneled artwork) . . .


. . . that I varnished the right side panel, and not the left so you can see the difference.

On this next heart piece on which I varnished the upper left corner . . .


. . . to create a dramatic difference dark to light.

Next, I was experimenting on a tan tile, (one I had in my collection, that I did not mind if I screwed it up) and just varnished the "orbital cone-shaped whatch-a-ma-callit" in the middle.


It was pretty dark to begin with and got darker. When the coats were dry, I went back in and added white dots on the surface, and they just popped right off the paper!


If you decide to try this, start with a tile you don't mind experimenting with. You don't have to cover the whole tile. In fact, on each of these I only varnished small portions. I liked how it was more interesting than covering the whole tile.

That marvelous feeling I got from varnishing my old paintings returned. . . like a dear old friend. . . .


I'm not going to do this to all my tiles for sure, but once in a while it might be cool. It's just a nice addition to my growing bag of tricks!

What have you added to your bag of tricks that you can share with us?

12 comments:

Cris said...

Wow! I love this. I sometimes use clear glaze pens for the same effect, but that takes way to long. Never would have thought of nail polish! Brilliant!!!

brenda shaver shahin said...

Nail polish! Oh my! What a fabulous idea! Maria, your creativity and imagination always amazes me. Thank you for sharing!

Stephanie Jennifer said...

Another Zentangle teacher, Debbie New (she's from Singapore, too!) taught me to use Multi-Dimensional Mod Podge to make the gemstones we draw with our tangles look real and 3D. You have to use the multi-dimensional version otherwise the glue will create bubbles as it's drying. (I learnt the hard way.) You can apply just a thin layer, to make the gem look shiny, or you can apply a thicker layer to give it the look of an actual gem. Very fun!

Susanpugs said...

Be sure that the polish wont turn yellow with time. I've had some products that have done that.

Megan Hitchens said...

These look really interesting. I've got some Mod Podge so I'm going to give that a try (can't stand the smell of nail varnish - and if you can smell it you are breathing in particles of it).

As to paintings, great with acrylics, but if anyone wants to varnish oil paintings, be aware you have to allow six months for the paint to be fully dry before you varnish, and Damar is about the only thing that's worth using.

Karin Godyns said...

I will have to try this!

Eleanore Miller, Ed.D. said...

Nail polish--such a versatile resource! I've applied ModPodge or Diamond Glaze on occasion just to mix it up, and the effects are quite interesting, especially when I thin and lightly tint the medium before applying ever so carefully. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful idea!

Jenn Sklener said...

A few years ago, I made a NFL table - covered football cards with white glue. Glued them to the table. Then applied resin over the whole table. It turned out gorgeous.

Jump ahead now to my new love of Zentangle. . . I'm working on making several black tiles to cover a wooden frame that borders a mirror. I want to try the same technique to the tiles and attach to the mirror. Hoping it works.

Antonine Koval said...

This is so smart! I ran right into the bathroom and grabbed a bottle of polish. After three coats, the result looks like one of those old Polaroid photos. Like you could look deep inside it! Wow!

Heidrun2733 said...

Hi - just a quick tip about sealing your project. I had classical art training when I was younger. I remember we started out with charcoal and pastels, then moved on to oils. At the art supply store I bought a can of spray sealant. I showed it off at my next art class. My teacher told my not to pay that kind of money again on a sealant. Aquanet hair spray works just as good. I have been using hair spray on all my pencil and watercolors ever since. I have charcoal drawings from 1975 that are still holding fast with Aquanet. Of course on my Oils there is nothing like varnish.

Pat Floerke said...

I've been wanting to make a pair of ZR earrings but didn't know how to seal them and didn't want to buy a whole jar of modge podge for such a tiny project. I'll be delighted to try clear nail polish.

Antonine Koval said...

So - an update to my previous comment. Since a little bottle of nail polish is probably more expensive to use than Mod Podge, I thought I would try that, and also an acrylic gloss varnish. Both of those had annoying brush marks. I tried thinning out the gloss varnish with some water, which worked better. I haven't tried a thinned out Mod Podge yet, but imagine it would be similar. However, neither of them had the rich "antique" look that the nail polish gave it. I plan to add a touch of gold or pink (or both) to the varnish and see what that looks like. Also, I had best results with the nail polish when I thinned it out a bit with some acetone. My old neglected tins full of "non-featured" tiles are getting some new life! The glaze looks, well, gorgeous on Gourdgeous!