My wife and I are using water mixable oil paints, and are varnishing these canvas paintings approximately 6 months after finishing them. We are finding that some lint and dust tends to collect on the surface of the painting while it has been curing (drying).
The lint resists a quick brushing with a clean brush, and even a lint free cloth is not a lot of help. Yesterday, my wife even tried gently vacuuming the surface of the painting, but the lint was resistant to coming off. In addition, we have applied dabs of Artisan Thinner with a lint free cloth, thinking that it might do the trick. ( it didn't, the lint would not adhere to the cloth)
Finally, we varnished the painting "as is", using Artisan Water Mixable Oil Gloss Varnish, applied with a large clean brush using long slow strokes.It was applied horizontally on painting, then another coat vertically.
We are puzzled. Our studio is in our basement, so it will (always) have some dust here and there, but it is relatively clean, and the windows are not left open, etc. It bothers us that we are varnishing some lint onto the surface of the canvas, but we have no other solutions.
I would love to hear how other oil painters clean their paintings before varnishing them...
Check out our blog at http://helenalanspinney.wordpress.com/
Thanks for the reply, and I agree that watercolours should not be varnished.
Actually, my wife and I are working with oil paints, but they are water mixable oils, which might be where the confusion lies.
The water mixable oils handle and dry like traditional oil paints, but we don't use terpentine to clean the brushes, just soap and water.
Watermixableguy, I hope I am not getting way off topic here, but you mentioned the problem with turpentine to clean brushes. While I can't vouch for this product yet because I am waiting to get the brushes that I ordered, I have found something called Jack's Linseed Studio Soap that you might be interested in if you ever decide you want to paint in oils -- just a tidbit of information that might help on another project.
That is an interesting thing to think about with water mixable oils. Don't the oil painters just wipe their paintings off with a damp no-lint rag? You can't exactly do that with water mixable oils.
What about air in a can or whatever they call that stuff? It is literally canned air and people in the computer industry and other industries use it to clean dust out of delicate hard to get to areas.
Margo, interesting idea about the spray canisters. The air pressure might be enough to get the lint off the surface. We would need to stand the painting up rather than flat so we would not get "frozen air" coming out. Might be worth a try.
The water mixable oils do dry "waterproof", just like regular oils, so there is no problem using a damp cloth. But when we tried using a cloth, first just dry, and then with thinner, the lint just wouldn't come off, it just kind of moved around on the canvas. Pretty pesky stuff.
Could static electricity possible be your problem? I'm not an engineer on that, but do know in causes problems in other situations.
tinacci, I don't know what is causing the lint to land on the paintings, maybe it is just a factor of them being stored in the basement where we paint. Our basement is relatively clean, but not spotless of course. We stand the paintings vertically (not flat) to dry after we have finished painting them.
Maybe an antistat cloth could help..
I'm curious whether other painters run into dust and lint adhering to the surface of their work, and what they do about it to clean them before varnishing.
Thanks, all, for your comments so far.
I do "dust" my work before I varnish, but I paint in acrylics, so my method might not be right for you. Acrylics can be very susceptible to dust and moisture and I usually let my paintings dry for several weeks before I varnish. They need the time to really cure, but they collect dust in the meantime. One advantage that I have is that my work is usually very very smooth, so I can dust easily with a soft cloth. However, sometimes my work requires a little more "cleaning', so i use a very clean soft cloth with a little mineral spirits to wipe off dust. Water is more damaging to dust with. Mineral spirits won't harm the work at all and it removes as much as possible.
In order to see what works best for your oils, I'd create a test painting and then some sample cloths. You might find that using a "dry dust" method will work. Like eraser dust, and spreading that over the painting and then lightly brushing off. Eraser dust, or pads, like draftsman use. Or, you might find the mineral spirits method that I use works for you as well.
Some interesting ideas, Karyn, the dry dust method and using mineral spirits.
There is probably nothing really unique about our situation with dust and lint, it's just that we don't have other artists nearby with which to compare notes. Thus the value of Artist Daily forums like this one, where advice can come to us worldwide.
I completely understand.
Let us know what you decide upon and how it works for you. I'm interested to hear.
Here is something that may just do the trick for you; A "Tack cloth." That wood workers use.
(from google search) When crafting a woodworking project or restoring an old piece of furniture, tack cloth is used in a step between sanding and painting or varnishing. Tack cloth is only slightly sticky so that it will easily pick up small pieces of sawdust and debris left on the wood but will not leave behind any residue. Many expert craftsmen will brush a surface with a dry paintbrush and then go over the surface with tack cloth before painting or staining.
The hardware stores have this?
tinacci, thanks for your detective work! I have checked a Canadian hardware chain, and the item is indeed sold in my city's store, at a cost of about $2.40. Maybe I'll swing by on my lunch hour and pick up a sheet. I'll test it on one of my "lesser works".
Here's a description of the item for other artists who might be interested:
Thanks for the information. The price is right, and as long as it is safe for painted surfaces, it sounds great. Thanks for the information.
Would a Microfiber Cloth used for dishes and/or dusting be similar to a tack rag?
Hmm, good question, ValerieMalley. I was wondering the same thing, but felt better about the tack cloth because the description specifically said it was safe for any kind of paint. Seemed like it had been developed for the very thing I wanted it to do. Maybe art shops should sell them!
I wonder if the household cleaning cloths ( like J cloths, etc) might have a bit of cleaning solution already embedded in them. Anyway, I DID pick up a couple of tack cloths at lunch today, so we'll see how it goes.