The Dull, Matte and Uneven Result of Paint Drying..
Just finished your painting and it looks great, right? The colors are in perfect harmony and the surface makes you feel the textures that you wanted. But, a week later the story is different. During the week, the colors sink in, the surface loses its pearlescence. What happened? Why does that grass look like straw? Why does that fur look like chalk? What happened is that your paint dries at varying rates and thus leaves you with some areas that remain wet-looking and some areas that appear dull.
Have no fear because if you were previously unaware, I am going to blow your mind with some knowledge. The answer is varnish. And boy oh boy there are many different kinds out there. If you don't know, varnish is used as a final protective coat on your painting so that the colors are preserved. You may think that you can use some galkyd or some other shiny medium for a final varnish, but do NOT do that. All varnishes should be able to be removed with mineral spirits and galkyd is not removable so you could have one hell of a problem in a few years when the galkyd turns yellow or blooms. (Blooms or blooming refers to a chalky or cloudy appearance that can happen over time).
So the reason that I'm sharing this knowledge is because it's something that I wish I had learned many years ago. Even while I was in school at the Pennsylvania Academy, I had a teacher who scoffed at my varnish questions. He said that varnish made the painting look "old and slick". Terms that I speak with veneration, he spoke with disgust. "You don't want your painting looking like an old academic shiny Christmas gift." " Well," I thought, "If he hated it so much then it must be really good stuff." So I went straight to the library and did as much research as I could. What I found was that varnishes have been used for centuries and are usually derived from resins and natural substances. Today, there are many varnishes that are made with alkyds, and they may be the way of the future. But, either way, Winsor and Newton's Gloss varnish gives a very nice effect.
I would suggest trying all kinds of varnish, Dammar, Copal, Mastic, Matte, High Gloss----there's many to choose from and it will bring life back to your painting. The colors will come back to life and you'll be following in the footsteps of those "old" and "academic" painters.