Painting over a varnished acrylic painting

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ParkersPlace posted on 9 Apr 2009 7:50 AM

I have a few acrylic paintings I would like to repaint but I think I used an acrylic varnish to seal them (it's been so long ago and I can't tell by looking at and feeling the surface). I'm thinking of lightly sanding them and then re-creating with oil paints. Please, someone advise me. Thanks much.

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Hello Parkers Place:    

You may find, as I have, that you can 'break through' the barrier of acrylic-varnished finishes, using acrylic paints, by just painting on the varnished surface. 

I have both sprayed, or painted, acrylic varnish to my paintings when they are 'finished',  but when I can no longer resist making a change to something that has been bothering me about a painting, or have received a critique that I agree with, I just apply paint to the surface, usually thin coats or dry brush,  perhaps going over it a couple or three times until I see that it has taken hold.  If I'm not crazy about any small changes I've made, I dampen a q-Tip and can alter the change by rubbing it, and reapply paint until I'm satisfied.  Then I usually paint varnish over the correction - or if  the correction has been significant, spray-varnish again.  

I have used both watered-thinned coats and media-thinned coats of paint when repainting small corrections,  as well as heavier bodied applications when making significant changes.

Whenever I varnish a painting I consider finished, I usually apply two or three thin sprays of acrylic varish, or if I paint on an varnish, I add a bit of water to it so that it's not too thick and apply two or three coats.  With this kind of finished surface on my paintings, I have had no problems at all in revisiting them.  

Valerie 

 

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Thanks, Valerie, for your information, however, want to completely repaint these canvases in oil. Maybe I'll apply a bit of gesso on a corner and see what happens. I've nothing to lose since I don't like the painting anyway.

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Hi Parker. I wouldn't worry about going over a painting that I didn't like either... but what if the painting that you do on top is really a keeper? And eventually suffers by cracking or peeling or something? Stick out tongue

The only way I would reuse an older painting is for my mad experiments. Smile How else will you know what happens unless you do it? Time testing is a little trickier, but if I were doing these types of experiments, they wouldn't leave my studio.

I think it's a good idea about the sanding.

Maybe someone has more extensive knowledge on some of the newer products out there?

Have fun!

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Thanks, Judy! I think I will lightly sand these paintings, apply gesso, and start painting them over in oils. You're correct, I will never know until I try this to see what happens. I believe I have grown as an artist in the last ten years, become more proficient with the brush and, besides, I'm embarrassed to look at this earlier work. Unfortunately, these two paintings are large, 36" x 48", but heh, it's only canvas and will not be hanging in a gallery.

Thank you, again, for your response. Much appreciated.

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Hi,

I would suggest contacting the chemists at Golden acrylics. They are very helpful. They may suggest that you to treat the surface of the painting with one of their many products provided the painting was varnished in an acrylic varnish and not an insoluble varnish.

If it were my older painting, Wink I would use a solution of rubbing alcohol on it to soften the varnish layer a bit. Ammonia works too but it is pretty aggressive and smells awful. Then I would isolate the painting with a mixture of fluid matte medium, a self leveling gel (if the painting has a lot of texture) and some fine pumice gel for tooth. This mixture is sort of a "glear gesso" that provide enough tooth to get good adhesion for the new paint layer(s). 

This is something I would do on my own older paintings and only if they weren't "real keepers", commission pieces or expensive works for galleries. 

Mikel

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I had the same problem (yesterday) which was how I ended up finding this item

PVA - that seems to be the answer (well for me anyway)

I usually put a coat of acrylic varnish on my (acrylic) painting at various stages of it progress. A couple of days ago I stupidly sprayed non-acrylic varnish on it before it was finished

After finding out that anything I painted on top of it just would not adhere, I panicked, cussed, read this article. I tried lightly sanding and dry brushed a weak white wash over the area. This sort of worked but meant a lot of reworking

Then, a 'light bulb' moment - try PVA. A couple of coats of watered down PVA and the problem was sorted

 

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ParkersPlace - I'm reading this thread because I've been considering repainting (over varnish) the SKY behind an aircraft painting I did years ago.  The airplane looks great, but the "stormy sky" looks like mounds of mashed potatoes!  I can now paint beautiful clouds & this early painting of mine is a bit embarrassing.  However, I'm proud of my "growth" as an artist, & to some extent it would be sad to destroy my art "history" by "correcting" what I did years ago.  Song writers, painters, movie producers, etc all have a body of (embarrassing?) earlier work.  Somewhat nostalgic, don't you think?  I might do a NEW painting of the same scene & re-label the old one,  "A Study In    (old title here)_ ".  In a way, don't you smile a bit inside when you see that older "embarrassing" work?  Just a thought.  

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Almost the same question as above but I need a little more clarity if possible.  I have an expensive acrylic painting I did and sealed it with some kind of finish but don't know what it was.  Kamar Varnish, fixative, liquitex varnish....Don't really know what I used.  

I would like to redo some of the trees in the painting with acrylic paint.  What do you propose I do? 

Many thanks for your help

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