Welcome to

The Painting Lesson

by Linda Carson

big black pig studio
98 King St. N., Waterloo Ontario Canada
www.bigblackpig.com


Gloss versus Matte

The surface finish of paint and paintings affects the look. You may know that commercial house paints are available in roughly five different finishes with varying levels of gloss:

  • gloss (very shiny);
  • semi-gloss (shiny);
  • satin (somewhat shiny, but more of a gleam than a sparkle);
  • eggshell (dull); and
  • flat (very dull).

Similarly, artist's paints and varnishes vary in gloss level. We usually talk about just two levels of shine:

  • gloss (very shiny); and
  • matte (dull) AKA matt AKA mat.

There's more to this than shine. More gloss means more saturated colour, tougher protection for the surface, and more light bounce (which tends to reveal even tiny bumps and crevices). Flat paints and varnishes even out rough surfaces, mute the colours, and tend to be more porous (so they'll absorb gunk over time instead of being easy-to-clean).

Find the square; acrylic on hardboard;
6 inches X 6 inches; Carson 2002

For example: The digitized image can't show you this, but the sample painting is finished with a matte acrylic varnish, except for one square of gloss floating in the upper middle of the image.

Some paints usually dry glossy (such as oils) and some dry matte (such as casein). Almost all paints can be given a clear protective coating (usually varnish) that can alter or unify the surface shine.

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Art & Text (C) Linda Carson 2002

Loosely translated, that means:
"Please don't copy this material or redistribute it in some other form, for any reason. This is my livelihood."