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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm a new painter and I think I made a big "beginner" mistake. I painted two pictures for my relatives who chose to hang them over their wood burning fireplaces.

One has been hanging a year and the other is yet to be hung but it is about 6 months old.

Neither were varnished. Is it too late to do so now?

I THINK the older one that has been hanging for a year looked a tad faded the last time I saw it. I feel terrible about it as she loves it and now it may be permanently screwed up.

Thanks for any advice!!
Sissy
 

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Hi Sissy and welcome to the forums...No it's not to late. Before varnishing the pieces I would wipe them down with a real mild wash just to get any dust and dirt off the piece. I spray varnish everything I do these days and that should bring back the color to your piece that looks a bit faded as long as it's not to far gone. Take a photo of it and post them if your could.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, George, for taking the time to respond so quickly. I'm kind of embarrassed to ask for them back - one is out of state but I will have to do it.
Can you recommend a type of spray varnish? Just one coat over lightly and let dry for....a week?

Sissy
 

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Sissy, technically you don't have to varnish your acrylic paintings. I stopped varnishing a few years ago without ill effects. If you use higher grades of paint, they should not suffer excessive UV deterioration over time without a varnish. A fully cured paint layer is pretty tough and impenetrable, and I'm not convinced that varnishing really does anything besides create a top layer that is consistent in it's finish (like matte or gloss). That's my 2-cents. Happy painting!
 

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Sissy - To me, it depends on what material the paintings are on. If they are on canvas, I might suggest moving them to a location away from the fireplace. Depending on the proximity of the painting the actual heat source, the canvas can expand and shrink with the fluctuations in temperature, causing the paint to come loose and peel. Not only would I be concerned about the potential for heat damage, I would be concerned about the film that soot can leave. If they are on wood, you may not have such a problem. However, acrylic is very stable and durable long term, so the paintings may not sustain any damage for a long time while hanging over a fireplace.

A few more words on varnish - Once the varnish dries, it adheres to the paint layers beneath it effectively creating one paint film once the work is completely dry. Matte varnish has more tooth than gloss or semi-gloss, and can take on external environmental elements like soot or spilled liquids and stain the painting. Gloss varnish will always be smooth and slightly sticky, and may take on soot just as readily as matte varnish.

Essentially, if the painting has been okay so far, it may be for many years to come. Acrylic is extremely durable, water resistant when dry, and ultimately a great medium for all sorts of applications. I would just advise watching the amount of heat that the painting is exposed to - meaning, I would worry more about the integrity of the support that was used opposed to the paint itself. Again - my 2-cents, you must use your best judgment when exposing paintings to fluctuating heat/ cold, and potential stainers like soot.
 
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