A painting coated with epoxy resin
A painting coated with epoxy resin

How To Use Epoxy Resin To Gloss Coat A Painting

Have you ever seen a gloriously glossy painting and wondered “How do they do that?” That thick, glossy coating is likely epoxy resin. It really adds to an art piece and makes it pop.

I have used epoxy resin in my artwork for years, and it really has come a long way in terms of safety, long term stability and ease of use. It’s still not an inexpensive material, but the quality is top notch.

Recently, I created a piece where I documented my procedure to share in this article. First, I made little bee sculptures out of polyclay to sit on the canvas. They will “bee” a cool, three dimensional element.

Next, I pulled out a stretched canvas and painted it with a honeycomb pattern and added Liquitex Ceramic Stucco Texture Gel for some nice raised areas.

Hexagon shaped stretched canvas
Hexagon shaped stretched canvas

I ordered these hexagon shaped stretched canvas from Ebay as I’ve never found them in any local art stores.

Preparing the art for resin coating

Once all the paint was dry I used green painters tape to tape off the edges of the canvas.

A painting is ready for resin coating
Ready for resin coating

This will keep the resin off the canvas sides and eliminates the drippy resin blobs that gather on the underside if you do not tape off the edges. Since I was using stretched canvas instead of a wood panel, I cut a piece of cardboard the exact shape of the inside of the canvas and wedged it under the canvas between the canvas and stretcher bars. This provided support to the canvas so it would not sag in the center under the weight of the resin. Next, I set the canvas on a roll of tape to lift it up off the table surface and used a level to make sure the canvas was level on the table.

Preparing the resin

First, make sure the room you are working in and your resin bottles are warm enough. Ideally, have your room around 25 degrees Celsius (that’s 77 degrees Fahrenheit for non-Canadians) If it is too cold in the room your resin will stay tacky for a longer period of time, instead of curing in 24 hours.

Pour your resin and then the hardener into a flat-bottomed container at a 1:1 ratio. I buy plastic cups with measurements printed on the sides just for this purpose. Stir to mix thoroughly, but do not whip it up into a froth.

I use Art Resin ™.  I have used other resins and in my experience this is my favourite. It does not yellow in UV light. You may not care, depending on your application, but I think it is very important that if I’m resin coating a portrait, that the entire face will not turn amber in a few months. Also, you cannot remove resin that has hardened should you not like the effect. Art Resin is also quite safe, it has no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). At any rate, always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They will provide details on how to calculate how much resin to mix up in order to cover the square footage required.

Pouring the resin

Once the resin is mixed you can start the pour. Gently pour the resin out into a puddle in the center of your canvas. Use a straight edge to spread it out to the edges. I use old credit cards for this purpose. The resin will drip off the edges of the canvas. This is supposed to happen.

Once you have spread it over the surface, leave it be. It is self levelling. You may notice some small bubbles. You can pop these with the tip of straight pin or use a butane torch. I have the butane torch because it’s fun to pop bubbles with fire. Light your butane torch and put it about two inches from the surface and move the flame over the surface. Don’t linger on spots or they may get too hot and the resin will thicken unevenly in that spot.

A painting coated with epoxy resin
A painting coated with epoxy resin

Protect your canvas from dust that may fall into it while it is curing. Leave it to cure for 24 hours. Enjoy that glorious, shiny gloss!

By Tanya Petruk

Movie Poster Restorer, Fine Artist

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