Monika Murray's
Artistic Affairs
Tales from the Easel
Copyright 2010 - 2011 Monika Murray Art. All rights reserved.
Welcome to my art blog.  In the Tales from the
Easel I share fun, interesting or motivational
moments that sometimes happen during art
making.  Art is a journey and I journey is that much
more fun when you can share the experience.   I
hope you'll enjoy the reading.
Oil Painting, Varnish and the Dusty Paws

June 14, 2011
  The idea for Tales from the Easel came to me last week after varnishing
couple of my paintings.  Every once in a while something interesting happens
during an art session that is worth sharing with others.  This is where I tell my


  I have several oil studies that just hit the 6 month mark and the other day I
thought it would be fun to varnish them.  Not only does the varnish protect the
oil paint from damage, but it  also brings the colors back to their original depth
and life.  I picked couple of studies and I took them downstairs to the
basement.  That's where I decided to varnish because the ventilation is the
best in the basement, it is the coolest place in the house during the summer
and children or pets don't usually play there.

  When varnishing it's good to leave the paintings flat at first to avoid any
dripping of varnish.  For that occasion I picked the nearby washroom which is
never used; there the paintings can lay flat in peace without any risk of
someone touching them.  The whole operation was easy:  spray the varnish on
the paintings, lay paintings flat on the bathroom sink and close the door.

  Few hours have passed by when I started thinking of checking on the
paintings and also started wondering where my cat Hercules was.  It was very
hot and humid outside and he usually sleeps under the sofa on days like that.  I
figured that's exactly what was happening today.

  I. Was. Wrong.  When I opened the door to the basement bathroom I
screamed.  Loud.   After I was done screaming I acknowledged that standing in
the bathroom door was not a ghost but just my excited cat who apparently
missed me a lot.  He was purring and brushing himself against my leg.  He
scared the living soul out of me, I don't think I ever screamed like that before.
After I regained my breath I realized that of all the things to not do with my
artwork I did the unthinkable one:  I have closed my freshly varnished paintings
in the same room with a curious cat on the loose.  Somehow I didn't think
Hercules would be kind enough to ignore them.  

  What happened to the paintings?

  Both paintings had visible dusty, stuck on cat paw prints. The bathroom is
never used and some dust must have accumulated in corners. Hercules made
sure to walk all over them and then on my paintings.  The good thing (thank
God for the good things in life) was that it was not a first coat of varnish and I
was able to scrub both paintings free of dust without affecting the paint.  I have
since put another coat of varnish and both paintings are looking great.

The lesson in the story:  Always check the room for the cat, if you have one,
before you close the door and leave your artwork to dry.  Cats are such amazing
creatures that sneak in behind your back completely unnoticed even when you
swear you paid attention to the door.  Once they're in, they will go straight to the
thing you did last and check it out.  When I prime my canvases and panels I
swear they gain magnetic force as soon as I'm done. They are the first thing
Hercules will walk up to and try to brush himself against.

Happy creating!

The Hero of the story: My curious cat Hercules
He knows how to enjoy life