I've been away from oil for a long time and recently picked up the brush again. I would like to know if there is a way to resurface a bad painting to reuse the canvas?
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Have you tried gesso?
Depends on how old. Oil paint gets harder and harder (more brittle) over time. The best thing to do is sand the surface. I assume you are on stretched canvas. If you're on a hard board then life is easy. A light sanding just to rough up the surface will do it and then gesso it. You could just gesso it but without sanding, it can flake off over time but then again may last forever. The chemistry gets complicated and it depends on how obsessive you want to get. I have paintings hanging around that are 40+ years old that were painted with oil over an acrylic sketch and still perfect.
Absolutely DO NOT gesso over the top of the old oil painting. An acrylic primer won't be stable on top of oil paint for any length of time. If you feel you need a white surface to paint on use an oil primer to 'white out' the old painting. But even then, you may be compromising the "fat over lean" concept. Just scrape / sand it down, apply a thin coat of oil primer, add plenty of medium to the 'new' painting on top and hope for the best. Steve
I spent a lot of time painting over an old painting once, and before I was finished the surface below began to crack and I realized it was a complete loss. Never again will I try to save $8 worth of canvas to end up with something useless.
Thanks so much for your comments everyone! I appreciate it. I'll probably try sanding and scraping down one to test it out. Probably going to be a lot of work for little return though!
Hi Angela -
You can paint directly on the old painting. Someitmes it is good to sand it a little for better adhesion bbetween the new paint layers and the old. You can also oil out the painting after sanding and work directly into the wet oiled out surface, this alos helps increase the sdhesion between layers.
“Oiling Out” Procedure:
If you prefer to start fresh on a white ground, an Oil Painting Ground will work very well to cover an old oil painting, provided that a good bond can form between the ground and the dry paint. This bond can be unstable if a lot of painting medium was used in the old paint layers, resulting in a closed surface of the top paint layers. We recommend that old paintings be sanded to insure a good bond between the dry paint layer and ground.
Jamee Linton-Kelly | Product Specialist | Gamblin Artists Colors Co. | 503.235.1945 x-30 | www.gamblincolors.com
Hey, Angela, consider this: What if you spend all that time scraping and painting over, then create a truly beautiful painting that, wonder of wonders, someone wants to buy! Then, the whole thing breaks down and your buyer wants his money back, not to mention what such a thing woud do for your reputation as a painter. Then ask yourself, no more than it costs for a new piece of canvas, is it worth the risk?
I wonder why it is, we do not hesitate to throw away a piece of paper that we ruined, but hold onto those old, ruined canvases?
A season is set for everything; a time for every experience under heaven.
You could always undo the canvas from the frame by pulling out the staples, flip the canvas, and use a staple gun to re-assemble. I do it all the time.