The Conservator Method: Minimal Varnish on Your Oil Painting for Maximum Preservation | The Cave of Apelles

David Molesky demonstrates the proper way to varnish a painting, based on knowledge he received from a conservator.

What you need:

  • Gamvar (
  • Gamsol (
  • Gamvar Varnish brush (
  • Badger hair brush (
  • Brown paper napkins
  • Ceramic plate
  • Mixing jar

▶️ Full video (39 minutes):
🎵 Full audio:

In the full length video you will also learn about:

  • How conservators varnish
  • Gamvar – the best varnish
  • How to mix retouch varnish & finish varnish
  • Why Damar varnish is not good
  • The glory of brown paper napkins
  • Why matt varnish literally is GARBAGE
  • Which brushes to use (also to emulate a matt varnish)
  • Finish off with vertical strokes
  • Should you not varnish on a cloudy day?
  • What to do before varnishing
  • How to clean your varnish brushes
  • Paint so you do not need to varnish
  • Rembrandt did not varnish his paintings?


Filmed and edited by Bork Nerdrum

Fergus Ryan
Shaun Roberts
Matthias Proy
Børge Moe
Eivind Josten

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  • Apelles was asked why he touched and retouched his pictures with so much care, to which he replied:
    "I paint for eternity"