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Old 11-26-2010, 12:17 PM
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sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

A FAQ here often crops up and it is about asking how you prepare an old canvas for repainting. I just did this process this morning and so I thoughy I would not only show it but then I would have it in the bank to link to in the future rather than explain it over and over again.
This is a process I learned about 35 years ago and have never seen any problem, I know of a professional artist who used it throughout his career in the twentieth century without issue, still I disclaim any guarantees whatsoever.
First I make and keep on hand this emulsion solution:
1/3 water, 1/3 denatured alcohol, 1/3 gum spirits of turpentine.
I use distilled water and hardware store alcohol and turp.
The water/alcohol mix but the turp will separate upon standing.
It has very strong solvent dissolving power.
I shake well before using and it makes a milky looking emulsion.
It is particularly strong and pungent and I only work with it in a well ventilated area like outside.
First I prep the painting by lightly abrading with a green scotchbrite pad.
Then I apply a good amount of the emulsion and spread it and let it soak, in this example I am showing, overnight, but usually a half hour is ok. This gives it time to soften the paint surface for the next step.
I wipe that off and reapply but this time I really scrub it using a rough old towel or rag.
Here is a painting that was a quick 9x12 plein air done last spring that I did on a nice linen/hardboard panel. I really wasn't happy with it and not real interested in fixing it, I can repaint the scene next spring if I want. But I wanted that nice panel for usage. (I can be ruthless like that)
So here is the painting before and after:

Now I let this dry very well and I will probably paint right over it but if I wanted to, I could retone it with a coat of oil paint of any color.
If I have a painting that has very thick texture with high ridges of paint, I write that one off and scrap it. I know from experience that it is impossible to get the surface like I want it being a little particular in that regard.
That is it!

Last edited by sidbledsoe : 11-26-2010 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 11-26-2010, 12:34 PM
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Mark Sheeky Mark Sheeky is offline
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Thanks for sharing. I once used acetone to wipe a panel clear. It totally dissolved and removed the paint and acrylic primer down to clean bare wood with just a soft coth. Powerful stuff! Acetone might be just too strong for canvas.

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Old 11-26-2010, 03:12 PM
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Thanks Mark. That is a good point to bring up about solvent strength. Yes I think solutions such as acetone or paint stripper are going too far. You don't want to disturb the substrate (ground and primer) be it acrylic or oil. You can see that I left a faint image of the final paint layer and did so on purpose. I could apply more solution and scrub harder with a more abrasive pad but I don't want to do that. For painting over I want the image diminished but some oil paint remaining intact and never removed all the way back to the primer. Now it is almost like a toned ground.
I am not positive about this but I think that the purpose of the water component is to reduce the solvent strength of the pure alcohol. Too much of most anything is usually not the best.

Last edited by sidbledsoe : 11-26-2010 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 11-26-2010, 05:48 PM
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

I like your recipe, Sid! I'm going to put it in my art recipe file and do this in the future. When I have a painting I don't like, I had been just sanding it down and then retoning for a new work, but this is even better, since I'll be getting back the surface I liked painting on! Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:49 PM
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Thanks Nancy. I am sure others have their own methods of reconditioning and repainting and I invite any and all to describe what they do here if you want. It may help others to deal with this issue in the way they think best.
Others are welcome to post their duds and their recycles here also.
I plan on painting over this soon and will post my progress. This is what I want to paint on it, my daughter in a pic at the beach about 30 years ago.

Last edited by sidbledsoe : 11-26-2010 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 11-27-2010, 12:51 AM
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Sid thats a sweet shot of your little doll and will make a lovely painting Im sure ....I cant wait to see Lex running around like that ....
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Old 11-27-2010, 12:29 PM
Dana Design
 
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Sid, I'm all for simple methods and yours is a good one. In the past, I've lightly sanded down paintings and then just washed a loose white over them. It's worked for me as I prefer to use as little solvent as possible. It ends up looking very similar to yours.
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Old 11-27-2010, 03:24 PM
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Sid...thanks for starting this topic and for providing your technique. I'm interested in anything that gives me a second chance! (Not to mention, finding something to do with all these awful paintings stacked everywhere!)

Dana...can you elaborate on the "loose white" comment? I presume you mean a white oil paint. Is there a particular white you use? When you say "loose" do you mean you apply it loosely...or that you have added a lot of thinner? Do you attempt to cover the painting beneath...or just gray it out?

Thanks!
Bruce
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Old 11-27-2010, 04:35 PM
Dana Design
 
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Bruce, I use Holbein Titanium white and mix in just a bit of Gamsol to make a juicy mixture, not watery but flowing. I don't attempt to cover the old painting completely but, as you said, just gray it out a bit. And I use a regular 2 inch paint brush from the hardware store to apply it.

The result looks very much like Sid's photo above (after he's sanded and applied his solution).

I don't know if this is the 'proper' way to do this but for now, it hasn't been a problem on any of my paintings and I haven't had any adverse results.
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Old 11-27-2010, 04:49 PM
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Thanks guys, yes I have done that method also Dana ( in fact I did a couple like that this morning ) but to what extent I recondition depends upon the existing surface of the candidate for rejuvenation, and this would be the max treatment. I don't want any latent harsh colors or paint ridges left behind.
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:56 PM
Dana Design
 
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Re: Preparing for Repainting a Canvas

Right, Sid! That's why I sand the painting down first before applying any further surface.

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