Friday, June 10, 2011

Liquin as Varnish

I've expressed my distaste for Winsor and Newton's Liquin in the past, but on no firmer grounds than that I hated the smell and the color it dried in the bottle. Today I ran across (at the Rational Painting forum) this quote from David Pyle, Director of Communications & Technical Education at Winsor & Newton: Because Liquin is used as a medium by so many artists to speed the drying of the paint layer, it has been an easy conceptual leap for many to presume that a layer of Liquin on top is just as good as Liquin added inside. It's not. Since its introduction in the 1960's, Liquin has been, and always will be, intended only for use as a medium. The problem with Liquin isn't the clarity or the resiliency of the film (it has both of those in abundance); it's that it dries too darn fast and to a solid and highly impermeable film.

If used to seal a still-wet paint layer, Liquin will fully block any further access to the atmosphere and the oxygen that is absolutely essential to the drying of the paint film. Without oxygen, the oil is incapable of forming all those nifty linkages that turn it into a highly durable layer. The paint layer will never fully dry, eventually proving unstable in a number of ways. Moreover, Liquin isn't soluble or removable (at least not in a way that leaves the painting beneath intact), making it virtually impossible for a conservator or restorer to work on the paint film when needed at a later date.

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