View Full Version : Bloom on oil painting

12-28-2001, 11:32 PM
I discovered a hazy, ghostlike area on an oil painting I did several years ago. It was damar varnished. Any suggestions on how to get rid of it willl be appreciated. Thank you.

01-01-2002, 12:43 PM
It could be there is water under the varnish! To really get an idea of what it is ....you have to first tell us what you painted on...and how the surface was prepared....

You can go to a framer and ask them...they should have an opinion and they would have the opprotunity to see how your ground was prepared.


01-01-2002, 01:46 PM
I painted it on a Fredrix canvas. I used oils, probably at that time with half and half, oil and thinner. Or Liquin. I don't know how water could possibly have gotten anywhere near it. And I did give it a good drying time before varnishing.

01-01-2002, 04:27 PM
There are ways for moisture to get under the varnish. Perhaps you varnished the painting on a cloudy or a damp day? Perhaps your brushes were damp? I don't know.... but I had this happen to me once. It looked so bad that I was willing to try anything as I felt the painting was ruined anyway. Having nothing to loose, this is what I did...

I looked in the phone book and called an 'art restoration' expert. He told me, of course, to bring him the painting and he would remove and replace the old varnish. I now knew what to do! :D Not having the money for this, I went to a good art supply store and asked them what they would use to remove varnish from an oil painting. They sold me a mild varnish remover. I am sorry that I do not have the name of the product for you. I do not use a paint medium with varnish in it, so I new I could remove the varnish with out disturbing the paint too much. (Tell them if you use a painting medium with varnish in it and if so, what kind of varnish). I rubbed small amounts on the area gently with a soft cloth in a circular motion till I hit the paint and then stopped. Very little came off at a time and it took a while to get down to the paint. Take your time. Donít hurry. I waited for a clear dry day about a month later to replace the varnish. This was about 6 or 7 years ago and the painting still looks great! :)

Sooooo my first choice would be to take it to a professional, but it can be done yourself if you want to try it. If you use a medium with varnish in it could be more of a problem for you.

01-01-2002, 04:58 PM

Thank you for your help. I actually have a friend who restores very valuable pieces of art, furniture, reverse glass, etc. I didn't even think to ask her!
I used Damar varnish, and I am not afraid to try it myself, since I can always repaint the area.
Yes, I shall certainly look into a varnish remover.

Scott Methvin
01-01-2002, 09:30 PM
The very best "varnish remover" for dammar varnish is turpentine. Get W&N triple rectified. Buy some cotton baby diapers and wash them and dry them first. Then use the diapers soaked with turp to remove the dammar. If you did let the painting dry for a few months before you varnished it, it should not be any problem. I suspect you should have waited maybe a few months more. The turpentine won't make any effect on the dried paint, unless you use a really heavy hand.

This is why dammar is such a great final varnish. It comes off.

01-01-2002, 11:57 PM
It does sound like a moisture problem to me. I'm in Fla., where the humidity level is usually pretty high and i take a hair blow dryer to my paintings for a couple of minutes before varnishing. Moisture can settle on anything without any visable signs, but it's still there. Baby diapers, as Scott has suggested are a good bet but you can also purchase flour sack cloths at Walmart for a lot less. Wash and dry them too and you'll find a nice lint free cloth. I always use them when i work.

01-02-2002, 01:43 AM
i have a simplier way to get rid of blooms. use mechanical oil.

first you have to make sure that there aren't any cracks where the bloom is, than just use a soft rag with a bit of mechanical oil and rub. this will chemically react with the bloom and get rid of it fairly easily. you have to make sure to get rid of all oil though, so make sure to keep cleaning it until you have a clean surface. that is why it is so important to make sure the rag is soft, so you don't scratch the painting.

this method is good, it also sounds strange but it something that i read in ralph mayer's artist materials manual...and it works.

also, the above listed reasons are what happened. depending on how you applied the medium with the paint, it was an unbalanced mixture that dried unevenly. even if a surface is dry to the touch, it can still be in the drying process...that is why it is recommended to varnish after the painting has had 6 months or longer to dry.

01-02-2002, 08:19 AM
Thanks Scott, Lori, and Cheryl for your advice. I shall take more care the next time I varnish an oil painting.

I probably won't be doing anything for a while, since I forgot to take any turps with me on Christmas day when I visited my son who owns the painting. Probably in a month, I'll get my hands on it.

I didn't know Damar was that easy to remove, glad it is.