Com-Art and a protection layer/varnish?



Hi Folks,
I hear that Com-Art paintings should be protected but that they can be damaged by water based varnishes. I painted my self portrait with Com-Art paint on 250gr Bristol Board and I would like to protect it but I don't want to risk doing any damage to it. What should I do?

I have Golden acrylic varnish that I could spray on with an airbrush, would this work or could it damage the painting? If I spray a few light layers would that work? Or I could put the painting in a frame behind glass which would protect it.

Any suggestions welcome
Cheers Mel
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melbee, I'm not sure about com art paint but I use Golden brand paint and I'm also not familiar with the Golden acrylic varnish that you spray with an airbrush but I have used the Golden archival acrylic varnish in a spray can and it worked fine as a clear coat on the golden paints. I would think that what you have will work fine with the com art. But I would like to add my opinion and it's only my opinion, I think you would get better results with the spray can than you would with an air brush. I'm thinking that you could get a better consistent layer of varnish on your painting.
Hope this helps you out.
I have used Com-Art but I use automotive clears on them .
But I have put the trans base from Wicked on them with out issue.
All I can say is take a piece and do a test panel to see if it works out prior to trying it on your portrait.
as far as i know fixative is a better choice than a varnish.nevertheless i will suggest you that the best way is to make a that way you´ll play it safe.:02.47-tranquillity:
krylon makes a clear acrylic finnish that youy can use and it comes in clear gloss and sattin but you should spray in well ventalated area it s stinky
Thanks a lot folks.

Your right I should do some test pieces and see what works.

Herb, I have some Trident Transparent Base, is that similar to Wicked Transparent Base? And if so would a coat of that be enough to protect the picture?

Harborbill, I have ordinary Golden Acrylic Varnish which I used to hairy brush onto my hairy brush paintings. It says on the bottle it can be diluted 2:1 varnish to water for spraying. This might be too wet for Com-Art as it is re-wettable. I will try it.

I don't want to use a Solvent Spray Can varnish if I can avoid it. The Golden Archival Acrylic Vanish in a spray can sounds more interesting and it's possible my local art shop might have some in stock. Or something like it.

I'll do some tests with what I have at home and if they don't work I'll try an Acrylic spray can varnish.
Cheers Mel
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Trident to my understanding is not 100% like wicked , But being water based it should act the same way , and I only give mine one coat mainly just to lock down the painting. Plus on certain board stock it lets the final clear coat go on more evenly .
Again I would still do a test panel .Better safe than sorry.
Com-Art is easily reactivated with water... A waterbased varnish can be used provided it is sprayed on in light layers.
I either use the acrylic painting varnish, plain artist fixative or Molotow clear coat. Nevet had an issue.
I'd use aerosol fixative. Any art store should have it. I use it over charcoal work. I use com-art and find it pretty tough compared to etac and wicked illustration paints. But yeah. If I wanted to protect it I'd use a matte fixative.
Thanks so much everyone for this info. I took your advice and did some tests using the products I already have at home.

I cut an A4 sheet of 250gr Bristol Board into 6 pieces and I sprayed Com-Art paints on to each piece in the same patterns. I used Com-Art Opaque Black and White then 3 Transparent colours and let them dry for a couple of days. One piece was left as a control the other 5 pieces I sprayed (Eclipse HP-SBS 0.3mm at 30psi) with 2 light coats of different products, I used a hairdryer to dry in between coats and then left them for 3 days to really dry. I then lightly rubbed each piece with a white slightly damp cloth. Here are the results;

Schmincke Aero Medium - rubbed down to the paint layer and damaged the paint.
Trident Transparent Base - rubbed down to the paint layer and damaged the paint but took a bit longer.
Golden Airbrush Transparent Extender - rubbed down to the paint layer and damaged the paint.
Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS - Satin - left a matt finish and fully protected the paint, no damage.
Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS - Gloss - left a slight gloss finish and fully protected the paint, no damage.

Conclusion: The Varnish worked very well and the other products did not work at all as a protective layer. To get a true Gloss or Satin finish I would spray more thin layers of varnish till the desired effect is reached (let each layer dry before the next application). With the Satin varnish, 2 coats left a good Matt finish and was enough to protect the paint from damage. Mixing the prescribed 2:1 Varnish to Bottled water sprayed very well although next time I might try a bit more air pressure for even better atomisation. Spraying light layers did not re-wet the Art-Com paint but care is needed to not spray too thickly which could do damage. Spray from 20cm distance.

The Varnish did make the card curl up so to counter act this you need to spray a coat of varnish on the back as well.

I prefer using the Golden Varnish rather than Spray Cans, as it is Water Based, I can mix to whatever reduction I choose, I can mix the Satin and Gloss varnish together to get a different effect (I did that on my brush paintings) and there is no Can to get rid of. Golden Polymer Varnish comes in a plastic bottle, is water resistant, flexible and protects from UV rays and dusting.
I read somewhere that Fixative is simply watered down/reduced Varnish so that should work fine although I did not try it.
Cheers Mel
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Good exercise. I just finished my paintpal piece after giving it several coats of rattlecan clear and polishing it. It looks great and helps the colours come alive.
Why dont you tryout the varnisch from comart ?

Because I want to use products I already own like the Golden Polymer Varnish (I have bottles of both Satin and Gloss) and all the other products I tested above, I already own. Or I want to use products I can buy in my local art shop so I can buy what I need when I need it and not have to wait and especially don't have to pay expensive postage costs. If the varnish costs 10 euros it will cost 7 to 8 euros to post it and I'd rather spend that money on paint :)

I already own a lot of paint that I don't like and some different mediums I never use which is money wasted and I just can't afford to keep doing it. As much as I might love to Ha Ha Ha! That is why I ask for peoples advice on the forum because if they have tried a product they will know how it behaves and can maybe help me out. However up until now most people seem to use solvent based rattle can varnish/clear coat or Transparent Base as an intercoat and no one had mentioned using an airbrush to spray water based varnish.

Anyway Pat, thanks for the input, I bet you wished you hadn't asked Ha Ha :) I hope my test results will help other people out.
Cheers Mel
Aa ok , no problem. I understand what you are saying. I always try to order big so I can have it without paying for postage. But having a shop round the corner is even better..

greetings, Patrick
Hi Pat,
Yes that's what I used to do, buy more stuff in one big order to keep postage costs down, but I can't afford to do that anymore. My local art shops have loads of artist stuff but not much for airbrushing so I'm trying to find products they have that I can use.

Anyway I have done 3 portraits, 2 were with Trident paint (hardy) and 1 was with Com-Art (delicate) on Bristol Board. Because Com-Art is a much more sensitive paint and being re-wettable I was worried about which type of varnish to use on it. I thought that if I find one that will cover the Com-Art then it would be fine for all the other Acrylic water based paints I use as they are the same or relatively hardier paints.

I also didn't know the difference between Fixative and Varnish rattle cans but now I do. Anyway I know I can buy solvent or water based rattle can varnish or fixative from my local art shop for around 11 euros and they would be good to use. I just have to do a test piece and use several light coats instead of 2 heavier ones.

Luckily the Golden Polymer varnish that I have at home works fine sprayed from my airbrush and that makes me very happy.
Cheers Mel
No I meant varnisch. Ordered from and ordered the creature paint kit wich is new :)
No I meant varnisch. Ordered from and ordered the creature paint kit wich is new :)

Found it, here's the link

Hey Pat, out of interest, have you tried it? Is it a gloss varnish? Do you have to dilute it or can you spray it straight from the bottle?

Funny, I just ordered some plastic side cups from last week for my Iwata side feed airbrushes. The Creature Kit looks interesting too.
Cheers Mel
Hi Mel, no I am waiting for my order, here to arrive in the Netherlands. Just serious started using Comart , after testting and trying other paint for a year now. This is because I always painted black and white for 15 years and took a break for 1,5 year. i recently finished my first portrait with good results using comart. i realy love the way this paint flows using only 1 drop of reducer ( The Vallejo or the new Createx high performance). And how it buildsup and can be erased so easily. Now I still have to try their medium and their varnisch. I will keep posting the results.

greetings Pat