How to Start Over on an Oil Painting

By Milan Art Institute on December 3, 2019
How to Start Over on an Oil Painting

We’ve all created at least one painting we don’t like. Many of us have created hundreds of paintings we don’t like. Sometimes one painting will stare at you and taunt you. It’ll call you names and maybe even make you want to cry. “Should I burn it?” we ask ourselves. Then that other voice tells us it’s a perfectly good canvas. I’m writing this article for those of you who listened to that voice and realize you can reuse a canvas, but don’t know how to go about starting over on an oil painting. Most of the time you can just paint over it with acrylics and it’s back to a blank canvas. But what if it’s an oil painting? 

You can’t just cover up an oil painting with acrylic, modeling paste or gesso. Those materials won’t stick, they’ll eventually will peel off because oil is long lasting and much more resilient. So if you want a fresh start to your oil painting, there’s one way to do it. The only substance that can go over oil paint, is more oil paint. After your “ugly messed up” painting is completely dry, create a mixture of half white oil paint and half Galkyd medium or another fast drying medium (liquin, liquin gel, cold wax, cozica). You can also use black oil paint instead of white, if that works better with your process. Using a big bristle brush or catalyst tool (rubber spreading tool), paint over the whole surface of your oil painting. You can also leave some of the outer edges or parts of your painting still showing. 

Before covering up your painting, I recommend taking the time to really study your painting and figure out what exactly makes it a bad painting. Ask your friends and family why they don’t like it and don’t be offended if they are candid, it’s better to receive useful advice than brown-nosing (in all areas of your life). Once you’ve narrowed in on what it is that disturbs you and others about the painting, try and imagine the painting without that. Does the painting work? Is there anything you like about it? 

Once you’ve covered what you want to cover, think of your painting in a new way, think positive thoughts. It began as something else and you’ll transform it into something new and beautiful. Not all paintings you hate are lost causes, many times you can push through the resistance and complete the painting anyways. It can be a masterpiece in the end. But other times, starting over is a way to overcome the resistance as long as you see it through to completion. Always try to finish your paintings. When you do, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and will learn a tremendous amount with each painting you finish. 

Don’t let starting over on an oil painting ever scare you again. You have what it takes to create beautiful art, you just have to keep at it. Here at Milan Art Institute, we believe in you and will help you every step of the way, just ask. Thank you for reading and happy creating! If you started over on an oil painting after reading this article tag me and Milan Art Institute on instagram so we can see!

Dimitra Milan

Co-owner of Milan Art Institute & Professional Artist

oil painting

Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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