Damar Varnish not drying! oil painting tip

by The Artist
(Blue Ridge Mountains)

Dear Sir

I have a problem varnishing my oil paintings, I used Delmar varnish and it was still sticky six weeks later, I tried to thin it with solvent and still takes weeks to dry, what is a good varnish and what am I doing wrong? How long do I need to wait till I can varnish my paintings? Also do you have any how two?s to paint drapery as I am having trouble putting the color over the dead layer? Any help is appreciated!

Regards R.

Hi R.

It can take 6 months using traditional methods to dry prior to varnishing. It also depends on humidity.

I think I have a demonstration on the website for drape. I know there is one in the ebook. Mostly you put color in areas that are lit well using a thick opaque mixture. In the shawdow areas, it is a thin glaze that you use. The middle or half tones are already done for you with the dead layer.

hope this helps.


ps, you can add alittle alkyd dryer to the damar to help it to cure faster, but it is the underlying paint film that truly must dry before varnishing, or your painting will crack when the varnish dries, and the paint film underneath continues to dry.

Also, never use odorless paint thinner with Damar. It does not have the power to properly dilute this type of varnish. Use only turpentine.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Frequently Asked Questions about Oil Painting Techniques..

Other names for raw linseed oil etc

by Jennine

I live in Brisbane and am trying to source raw linseed oil. Is refined linseed oil the same thing?

Also the odorless mineral spirit- does that have other names. Love your e-book Jennine


Hi Jennine! Check out a boating supply or hardware store. Online also. Raw linseed oil is not filtered as well as refined linseed oil.

It usually is not considered artistic grade.

I do use it to oil out my canvas, but not in mixing with the paint.

It has a distinct honey color as refined linseed artist grade oil is almost clear. It is available here:

Linseed oil

The odorless mineral spirits does not go by other names. There is a product called Turpenoid which is an odorless turpentine. I am not sure of its properties.

If you are using Damar varnish in your mixtures, you must only use turpentine to cut it.

Both are organic and the turps will break the Damar down properly. If you use odorless mineral spirits with Damar, you get jelly.

The OMS is not organic and will not cut the resins within the Damar down enough to use properly.

If mixed, the gel that is created never dries but remains tacky for many months and will weep petroleum by-products to the surface of the paint film for years.

(I'm not a chemist, but I have an artist friend that did some extensive research with a chemist into why his painting would not dry)

You can get turpentine from the vendor in the above link also. They ship world wide. If you are like me, an use turpentine only in your mixtures, then you only need a small amount. (1 quart last's me a year or more)

I wash my brushes in OMG, and a good brush soap. This is enough to remove Damar from any brushes it is in. I also recycle my turps and OMG in separate mason jars that allow solids to settle into the bottom.

Hope this answers all.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Frequently Asked Questions about Oil Painting Techniques..

Did you enjoy, or learn something from this page?  Why not create some good Karma, and pass it on? Facebook like us, Pin the images you love, or Google + and let others feel the warmth!

Care to see more of my work?  Click here to head over to my fine art site at delmusphelps.com