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asmonet's avatar

Do you know of any quality paint pens that don't bleed when varnish is applied?

Asked by asmonet (21211 points ) October 7th, 2009 from iPhone

I’m doing a fairly large acrylic painting that will require me to make extensive use of paint pens for details. Everytime I’ve used paint pens they’ve bled when I varnished my painting. It’s fairly important that I varnish the piece, and I’ll be using white and red pens in all likelihood. Is there a brand that you’ve found the most success with personally? A combination of certain brands of pen and varnishes?

For the record I’m at work and cannot recall offhand what brands I have at home, so I’m no help there. Please just give me whatever info you can. :)

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17 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

maybe the store you’re buying the pens at would know?

asmonet's avatar

Michael’s is the only supply store with 40 minutes of my house or job.

It’s staffed by stoners and high school kids who have no idea what they’re talking about. That isn’t really an option, but thanks poof. :)

Beta_Orionis's avatar

Sharpie’s oil based paint pens are really reliable. Just as dry oil paint reacts, once they’re dry, they do no bleed after varnish is applied. Also, because your painting is acrylic, the oil paint should have no problem sticking to it. I think they’re generally sold in most art and craft supply stores, so I’d imagine Michaels would have them.

YARNLADY's avatar

I would use a spray finisher/sealer on it. I don’t see why you would want to varnish it.

asmonet's avatar

@YARNLADY: Because it’s a painting? That’d I’d like to protect, add a finish to and make the colors more appear more vivid. Do you paint? It’s a choice for the piece, having considered both options.

I used a spray varnish on my final, and almost destroyed it entirely – because of the paint pens used. I’d rather not repeat the experience.

Why would I no want to varnish my work? It is complete, and it will not be added to in the future.

asmonet's avatar

@Beta_Orionis: I appreciate the head’s up, I was not aware Sharpie made those, I’ll try those in the future! :)

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@asmonet NP! I can understand wanting to varnish to protect. It’s only logical. I paint as well. Just remember to wait 6 weeks before varnishing acrylic work, and 6 months before sealing oil paintings! I don’t think the latter is as necessary for oil pens because they’re formulated differently.

@YARNLADY Varnishing an acrylic painting also restores the quality of the colors, because they dull and dry slightly darker.

Edit: Also, cool painting. I have the hardest time with graphic style work!

asmonet's avatar

@Beta_Orionis: Oh yeah, I’m well aware of the rule, unfortunately I was low on funds and time for my final and…. I blew it. But I managed to cover the damage and make it good again. :) Thanks again!
Have you ever used the Sharpie’s personally?

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@asmonet I know how that goes! Hard mistake to make!

If you’re really interested in regaining the colors for critiques/finals, you can always use picture varnish. It comes off again with mineral solvents when you have the time/funds to varnish it more permanently.

I have used them, and I’ve varnished over them, otherwise I would not have made the recommendation. I would note that I’ve not used them on a large scale, and it’s sometimes hard to achieve a smooth coverage. Just like markers sometimes develop that “patchy” quality because of different layering, these pens sometimes show the strokes because of different drying times or thicknesses. If you’re just adding linear details, it should be fine though! Obviously, I’d recommend playing with them a little before applying them to your work. :)

asmonet's avatar

@Beta_Orionis: Awesome! That’s exactly what I needed, first hand experience! :)
And thanks for the compliments and link. :)

I’m actually working on a 6’x3’ painting right now, mixed media, that will be covered top to bottom with handwritten scribbly poetry and bird silhouettes underneath lightly spray painted on with some possible splashes of color and layers of splatter and drops, etc. I didn’t want to scribble all that out and then varnish it for failure. It’s part of a series of paintings using my handwriting layered on top of itself and images. If it went south, quite frankly there’s no saving it.

And particularly with handwriting, unless you’re trying to make it look like typography inconsistency in the ink itself is not a worry. Thank you so much for your input! :D

YARNLADY's avatar

@Beta_Orionis @ I haven’t painted in several years, but I was always taught that varnish turns paintings yellow over time. I would never us any on mine. I found the acrylic sealer to be a good way to preserve my paintings.

asmonet's avatar

@YARNLADY: Not all varnishes turn yellow over time, and should that be the case many varnishes are capable of being removed without damaging the paints beneath allowing you to varnish the piece again. I’m sorry if my post came off harsh, but your phrasing threw me off.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@YARNLADY That makes sense. There still exist varnishes that will yellow over time, like Damar, but they usually won’t do so within our lifetime (i.e. they’ll start to turn maybe in 110 years or something.) Material science (art chemistry?) has advanced to a level that has produced more expensive and specialized varnishes that will last much longer without yellowing though!

TheRocketPig's avatar

If you are using acrylics, I would stick to using sealants like Matte or Gloss medium, they are acrylic themselves and can also be mixed into your paints to dilute/strengthen them. I would never use something in a spray can if you want it to be archival (lasting anything over 20 years). Mixing oil and waterbased media (such as oil paint pens) sometimes can “melt” the acrylic paint and create a permanently sticky surface. Sharpie also makes “poster paint” pens that are waterbased. They are what I use for all of my linework.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

Not so sure about the pens, but you can certainly apply oil based media over bone-dry acrylic and water based media without fear. Just not the other way around. Consider some of the old masters who used egg tempera as the under-painting for an Oil work. Fat over Lean. I haven’t had good success with the water-based pens.

WELSED's avatar

The oil based sharpies MAY crack after a while, since they are NON water soluable . So be mindful. You are better off being a better painter! LOL…No seriously, I use paint pens, spray paint, have painted professionally for over ten years, and I’ve worked in acrylics and oils. I’ve used varnish in my oil medium mixes, and I have tried to varnish acrylics as well and have had the same problem. It’s the base at which the make up of the paint pen. They may be enamel based, or ethyl alcohol based, but more likely solvent based or water based, which can be effected by the varnishes chemical properties. Ultimately, what most painters don’t understand is that painting is actually physical chemistry, so just be mindful of all the ingredients you put into your paintings “recipe”. Cell vinyl is a bit dull on the color when drying, but I’ve found teh viscosity and flow is equal to paint pens when mixed with a retardant and used with a liner brush. It brightens up REALLY WELL with varnish. DO NOT use a matte spray on the oil based pen work!!! IT DULLS THE GLOSS!!! Good luck, and I’d recommend next time EXPERIMENTING on different canvas types (wood, plastic, glass, canvas gessoed, ungessoed, etc) before varnishing again. It will save you trouble in the end, and if you are studying, you will have a leg up!!! GOOD LUCK IN THE FUTURE! I know this post is old.

XMachina's avatar

I had a bad experience with Krylon Matte acrylic sealer (after using it with no problems before). It covered the paintings with a fine sticky dust. I was under a huge time constraint with a project for all the seniors at a sports banquet and of course the last step on 13 paintings was the spray. OMG. What a nightmare. I don’t know if it was a bad can or what but I am scared to death of the stuff now.

As to the paint pens, I need white for the football stadium field markings for a very large acrylic painting. I have tried to paint them and am incapable. Can’t paint over my boo boos anymore! If I try the Sharpie oil pen, is there a remedy for a mistake, considering it is an acrylic painting?

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