UPDATED (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 21, 2020 7:12 PM)
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.
Oil paint is a hallmark medium of traditional painting. What many people don’t know is that oil painters require a lot more than just a tube of paint to make a work on canvas. Oil paint pigments are activated via a variety of media; the three main ones are linseed oil, turpentine, and damar. When mixed with oil paint, linseed oil increases viscosity and decreases drying time, while turpentine thins paint and also decreases drying time. Damar is a resin-based varnish that, when mixed with oil paint mediums, thins the paint, increases its transparency, and speeds drying time. Used alone as a top coat, it seals paintings and adds a glossy finish. Be sure, though, that your painting is thoroughly dry before applying it as a final varnish. Here is our selection of the best damar varnishes to suit your oil-painting needs.
1. Grumbacher Damar Varnish
Grumbacher’s damar varnish provides a protective top coat to oil paintings. Apply a layer to shield works from dust, dirt, smoke, scuffing, and moisture. This varnish deepens pigment colors and lends a high-gloss finish to final compositions. Note: Wait at least six months after painting has thoroughly dried before applying this as a final varnish.
2. Winsor & Newton Dammar Varnish (Satin)
Winsor & Newton’s 75-milliliter bottle of damar varnish is a high-quality substance that dries quickly with a satin finish. Opting for satin rather than gloss guarantees that your final painting will be glare-free.
3. Grumbacher Damar Retouch Gloss Varnish Spray
Artists looking for an easy-to-use product would do well to choose Grumbacher’s 11-ounce spray can of damar gloss varnish. The spray format allows an easy application. Made especially to touch up oil paintings in intermediate stages, this varnish revives dry areas and protects paintings before their final varnish. It can also be used to even out the finish of completed works. Apply this product sparingly and in thin layers.
4. R&F Encaustic Damar Resin Crystals
This solid damar resin is specially formulated for encaustic painting. R&F’s damar resin mixed with beeswax produces a paint film with a high level of refraction, making colors appear luminous. Crush and melt these crystals with wax to produce a high-performance encaustic medium.
5. Eco-House Damar Medium
Eco-House’s 4-ounce bottle of damar functions as both a medium and a varnish. When used as a varnish on completed works, it enriches colors and protects works against dust, scratches, and fading. As a medium, it adds a glossy finish, thins paint, and speeds the drying process.