Giving a Finished Oil Painting an Even Shine

July 17, 2014

Some time ago I wrote a posting about how paintings can display an uneven shine on their surface that can be annoying when seen from the side. I can resolve this by properly applying a final varnish coat, but it takes time before the painting will be ready for that. There is another option involving the use of an “oil painting medium.” The technique is referred to as “oiling out.”


This medium is sold by a number of different brands. The one I have is from Winsor and Newton. It’s made with a combination of linseed oil and resin.

When your painting has become dry to the touch in all areas, look at it from the side and you will likely see spots that have different reflective qualities. Some patches will have a “sunken in” or matte look to them in comparison to the rest of the painting. This is caused by the type of pigment and/or medium choices you have used. Applying this painting medium to the surface will even out those dull patches and give the whole painting an even shine.


In this example I’m using my recently finished oil painting. On the bottom of this picture you can see how there are uneven areas of dull and shiny patches. At the top edge I’ve started to apply a very thin coat of this painting medium that causes the surface to shine evenly. I’m using a clean cotton muslin rag to dab the medium onto the surface and work it into the paint, and then I go back over this with another clean rag to even it out. Keep this coat as thin as possible. After a few days it should be completely dry.

Note that this acts more as a finish than a varnish. You’ll still want to give your painting a final varnish coat after a few months have passed.


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