Gesso over paintings

Hey all!

I have 2-3 paintings I've done in the past with oil paint and I wish to reuse the canvas as Im not satisfied with them. I know that acrylic gesso can be used under the oil paintings, but does it work as a way to cover up an already made oil painting? I have my doubts about it, as I imagine it could crack or just would not stick so well.

Is there any solution for having a uniform surface on my canvas again to paint on?


  • I think you need to use an oil ground.
    Failing that, I have heard of some using white oil paint in layers to cover the paint underneath.  I am not sure how successful this method is.
  • tamasgodanyi

    If the first painting is now dry (six months) you can lightly sand off any high points and loose texture.
    Apply a good few coats of a stain blocking primer, then some gesso.

    It is possible to paint directly over the old stuff but it it is distracting trying not to see it.

  • NO . . . do not put gesso over oil paint.  All you need do is sand lightly to take down rough spots and high points, wipe down with a soft cloth lightly moistened with OMS, then apply an oil ground of something like a middle value mix of raw umber and yellow ocher, or, if you not a fraidy cat, a middle value mix of raw umber and Cremnitz white.  Let dry for a month or two, depending on how thick was your oil ground.
  • edited October 2021
    No, don't use acrylic gesso over oil. Painting in oil on an acrylic ground might be ok but not vice versa. Sand down rough spots then use an oil based primer/gesso. Apply as many coats of this as your need to get it as smooth as you want it.  On this ground you can then repaint in oil. I've done this before and had no problems. 
  • Thank you all very much for replying fast and giving me great tips!
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