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I have a painting that is quite large. It is polyester canvas (Feidrix brand I think?) stretched over very large and old stretcher bars that I had used in college but still in good shape. It stretched fine, put three coats of acrylic gesso on it and sanding in between. Then I used the normal neutral ground in oil. I started the portrait, but soon found that the surface is not very good. It kept dragging my brush. I tried sanding it down and I still didn't like it. I have probably half of the canvas covered in some sort of oil paint that has medium in it (Geneva mixed with Winsor and Newton). Is there any way to re-gesso it with oil based gesso? The fat over lean thing is what I'm most concerned about. I could probably use it as is as a landscape, but if there is any way to save it for the portrait, I want to do that first. Thoughts?


  • Wait for Dennis or Kaustav for better information but to start with I would scrape off as much paint as I could unless the oil paint with medium you described has been drying for months. I don't know how you would sand paint layers that are still wet. Scraping away any "wet" paint first will make the next steps easier and more effective.
  • MeganS

    There is another remedial step you can try. When all is touch dry, oil it out. That may cure the dragging problem. Use polyester / synthetic brushes, much less frictional drag. A light oil coat on your brush before you pick up the paint will also improve things.

    Still not happy? Then dismantle and use the stretchers on a new piece of canvas. 

    More layers are just going to compound the issues with bonding, sinking, wrinkling, cracking and delamination.


  • edited May 2017
    I follow two ways:
    1. If I feel that that you can still continue with a not so promising painting, then use a palette knife and scrape the wet or semi-dry paint section-wise (tree, cloud, land) to even out the surface as much as you can (getting rid of the ridges of paint) and let it dry for some time (two months or more). I keep them under the sun everyday. Make sure that the surface is dry. When it is dry, sand the whole area to even out the surface. When you are happy with the surface, oil out and then again start painting. Here you have a smooth oil primed surface with the required base colors underneath.
    2. For a new painting on an old canvas which is absolutely dry. start sanding the surface to get rid of the existing paint layers. This is what artist Jason Walcott is saying: " can either cover it with white oil paint and let it dry [he means for a long period of time] or just paint right on top of the old painting. You don't need to have white canvas to start with."
  • Oh! Good ideas @dencal and @Kaustav. It's dry and I paint fairly thin which is one of reasons I'm having trouble. I think I'll forgo the portrait and use it for a landscape instead. Thank you!
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