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View Full Version : Scratch marks on finished painting - how to fix?


bhindi
12-16-2018, 06:22 AM
Hello. A painting I varnished 2 months ago has a few noticeable scratch marks on its edge now from having shifted position while in storage. I am not sure if I should make the effort of dissolving the varnish and then painting over for a few scratch marks. Will it be very wrong to just match the color and paint over the varnish? Has anyone had this happen to them and how did you fix it?

contumacious
12-16-2018, 12:42 PM
How to fix it it depends on what type of varnish you used, removable or permanent. If you are planning on selling it, ethically you should not paint over a removable conservation varnish. If you do that and the future owner later needs to remove the varnish, your repairs will come off with the varnish.

Removable Conservation Varnish such as Gamvar

Remove the varnish first just in the area that needs fixing plus a little wider. If it is particularly glossy you might want to scuff up t he surface a bit with very fine sandpaper (600-800 grit). Repaint it, let it dry fully then add more removable varnish on top to blend in with what you have. If I was doing the repair I would add Alkyd to the paint so it would be dry enough to varnish in a shorter time frame.

Damar Varnish

If you used a Damar based varnish, proceed slowly as you remove it so as not to remove too much of the paint layers. Damar tends to cross link with oil layers, often causing problems with removal. Since you are repairing it, some paint coming off with the varnish might not be a big problem. Once dry, varnish to blend in with the rest of the work. Again, I would add Alkyds to my repair paints. Possible events like this are why I never use Damar Varnish on my paintings.

Permanent Unifying Layer / Varnish

If it is a permanent isolating layer or varnish, you should be OK painting over it, then adding more of the same type of varnish to match the rest of the painting. With the permanent varnish, you may want to give the area some tooth before painting over it with fine grit sandpaper, particularly if it has a high gloss, for better adhesion. Then apply the same permanent finish as before to match the rest of the piece.

WFMartin
12-16-2018, 07:22 PM
Hello. A painting I varnished 2 months ago has a few noticeable scratch marks on its edge now from having shifted position while in storage. I am not sure if I should make the effort of dissolving the varnish and then painting over for a few scratch marks. Will it be very wrong to just match the color and paint over the varnish? Has anyone had this happen to them and how did you fix it?

Yeeaaaaahhhh.......You don't want to "paint over the varnish". If the scratches have actually gotten down to the paint, you need to remove the varnish before applying touch-up paint.

If your varnish is GamVar, just use Odorless Mineral Spirits, and gradually dissolve the varnish by using a piece of old, cotton, T-shirt material saturated with the solvent, working gradually from one edge to the other, dissolving varnish as you go.

If your varnish is Damar (a natural resin varnish), or Soluvar, you need to use Turpentine as the solvent, and do the same thing, hoping that you don't dissolve the upper surface of your painting while removing the varnish.

Then, just repaint the problem areas and re-varnish--hopefully with GamVar.

bhindi
12-17-2018, 01:17 AM
Thank you so much contumacious and Mr. Martin.
This painting is a small one 10"x 12". It is varnished with Camel Picture Varnish which I'm sure is some kind of synthetic varnish. There is not much written about its contents or use on its label, except that it is a final varnish that should be applied over an oil painting that has been dry 6-12 months. Also, it is glossy.

The only solvent I have right now is WN Turpentine. Using an earbud dipped in this turpentine, I dissolved the varnish off the areas I wanted to work and a little around. After some minutes, it was dry and I could see the relatively matte areas on my painting where I had applied the solvent. I proceeded to mix and match the colors I wanted to apply and did my touch-up. I feel it is fixed. If it were not for the surrounding glossy areas, I wouldn't know where the scratches used to be. I think I'm happy with it. Once again, thank you both for the clear instructions.

Meanwhile, I will need to find a better way to store my paintings so this doesn't happen again.

contumacious
12-17-2018, 05:23 AM
You are welcome. I am glad you were able to fix it to your liking.

Often all that is needed to keep paintings and frames from being damaged when leaning against each other is a sheet of rigid cardboard as a separator. As long as the cardboard is larger than the two touching pieces and they are standing vertically, not stacked flat, they tend to stay in good shape. If the paint is at all tacky, a sheet of silicone release paper will prevent the cardboard from sticking to it. The release paper is not a must have with fully cured oil paintings that are standing vertically, but does give some extra peace of mind. Bubble wrap from my experience is not a good thing to leave in contact with any painting surface but works well to protect framed pieces as long as the bubble wrap is not touching the painting. You also need to have something non marring underneath them, particularly the frames so they won't be scratched by the floor. A piece of carpet or foam works well for hard floors.