Paint dries with a funny texture

I’ve got a couple areas where the paint has dried with a funky texture.  I had a couple other areas like this.  I used dennis’ fix by sanding it down to the ground then wiping it with alcohol and repainting.  
Those areas seem to be ok now but I am wondering if I should be concerned about more of this happening. 
If after correcting this, if I do not see any further issues after four months of drying time do you think the paint will be ok over time? Or at least another thirty years. 😬
Here is a photo of what it looks like. It’s hard to see but if you magnified your thumbprint by about a hundred times that’s what the surface looks like.

I’m using Geneva paint and did not add any medium.


  • I'm struggling to understand what I'm looking at - I assume it's where the light is hitting. Is it like long dimples, floctuated particles beneath the surface? Something else? It looks like impasto so that it isn't transferring from texture beneath - it seems to be the surface of the paint, right? Did you try slicing back with razor blade to see if texture was surface of through the paint? Here are my wild guesses of absolutely little worth -
    • Contamination with something like water (which subsequently evaporated but not evenly, causing uneven surface);
    • Semidried paint from a brush or earlier mix drying faster and therefore causing settlement around those flocculated particles;
    • Residue soap from cleaning brush causing oil breakdown;
    • Something on the palette?
    Beyond my meagre knowledge. Posting on Painting Best Practices on facebook will draw the attention of George O'Hanlon who has the chemistry background will probably hit it straight away. Or on MITRA forum.

  • dencaldencal -
    edited January 2022

    This looks like specular highlights reflecting off a fingerprint.
    On a much smaller scale but the same as sunlight reflecting off water ripples.
    Light sanding with a fine grade will remove this in a snap.
    Varnishing or oiling out will get rid of it too.


  • Does the paint look wrinkled? That's normally where part of the paint film dries quicker than another and pulls the painting into that kind of wrinkled pattern.
  • That's what crossed my mind also. @Richard_P. Geneva paint is very fluid/runny and it's possible that the paint has sagged into those little ripples. But it could also be a finger print as per @dencal. It's hard to say from the photo. 
  • i am not sure if i remember this correctly, but I think Mark once mentioned that the geneva paint is not the best for very thick  (impasto/chunky) application..
  • @Abstraction it is not any foreign object or soap.  It is just the surface.
    @dencal it looks like a fingerprint but I don’t think it is from any oil fingerprint on the substrate.  
    @tassieguy I think you are correct about the irregular paint drying.  
    @anwesha I didn’t know that about the fluidity of the Geneva paint.  The background area does have a thicker paint film and that is where I am seeing the problem.
    I am going to take Dennis’ advice and after it dries I will sand lightly and oil out. 
    Thanks to all for helping sort this out.
  • It sounds as if you've probably diagnosed your issues. This was mine - this is after I began to sand back level and the ground is showing through. When you mentioned thumb-print it made me think - similar result perhaps but probably different causes. So diagnosis here is that the ground had layer of oil develop as it dried and there was insufficient tooth. The lack of tooth meant the paint 'gathered' to form this pattern. The paint simply preferred to gather than sit on the shiny spots in the ground. Whereas yours has formed it in impasto sections. Both suggest a degree of uneven drying and flocculation perhaps. Sanding level and to create tooth fixed my problems.
  • Abstraction and GTO

    When posting closeup photos it would help to include a small object in the photo that is commonly recognised. Ideally a ruler, but a paper clip or head of a paint brush would be a great help in diagnosing problems.


  • CBGCBG -
    edited January 2022

    Is there any possibility you got some kind of unlikely freak level of oil separation? Could a spot of that extra medium (uneven medium levels) make those odd textures? What Mark says seems to imply the paint tube should be shaken every time you use it...(see the following at 6 min mark and after)

    Although, if you paint often and you are mixing colors on your palette first, and it has never happened before, it seems unlikely that a rogue spot of extra medium was able to get onto your canvas... but still possible?

  • CBGCBG -
    edited January 2022

    One second thought...

    Was the painting in a vertical position while drying?  (not laying down flat)

    Does the texture match what you would expect from fluid flow?  i.e. what you would expect to happen quickly if you had much more medium and the paint was runny right before your eyes?

    If so, it might be that the paint went on too thick and over time it "ran" (on a much longer time scale) as it dried.

    see this post:
  • @Abstraction you may be onto something there. Did you repaint after sanding?  Did it turn out well?
    @dencal I will keep that in mind to include a reference image.
    @CBG the paint was not runny when I brushed it on.  The panel was vertical though.
    Thanks for posting the video.  I did not know that about shaking before each use.  I did mix the burnt umber and Ultramarine on the pallet before brushing it on.  
    I guess paint flow and stringy-ness will be my next focus going forward.
  • edited January 2022
    Yes have repainted - and in my case if I didn't sand sufficiently to gain tooth, when I repainted over the section I could watch thin layers repeat the texture within a few hours - so came to recognise 'tooth' by feel. I can touch and know. In a number of places I laid a new foundation of white or ground because I wanted that under-glow beneath semi-transparent layers or didn't want remnants of paint showing through later. Also in a couple of tiny spots the board was exposed from sanding.
    So hard-earned lesson but I'll never repeat the error. All good now, yes, no problems.

  • Thanks for that bit of info @Abstraction
    you basically did your own restoration before the painting was finished! 😄
    I plan on doing the same.  I’ve been working on a particularly difficult painting technically and conceptually since Dec 11th and I don’t want it to fall apart on me.😀
  • Hello @GTO
    I see this is an older post but wanted to share 2 pictures. I actually experienced this just yesterday with my Geneva paint. I believe this is from using too much paint in my case. I definitely want to avoid this in the future. I have a similar wrinkle/ thumbprint. 
    I realized I was trying to layer my dark value behind the highlights as a way to avoid painting in between everything. The green picture is a group of leaves. I wanted the dark background showing through but the paint sort of drooped into areas I did not want it. Paint will build up often in my work. I often find myself having to scrub color in or overload my brush. 
    I am thinking this is the cheaper cotton canvas I am practicing on, or the brushes I am using. 
  • @talorpaints I don’t think it is the brush or canvas.  I used davinci brushes and an ACM panel.  I think it may have been that surface was too slick, not enough tooth and or too much oil in the paint.   Remember that with Geneva paint you have to keep the tube standing in its cap when you store the tube.  Before using it you may want to open the tube and slightly squeeze on the sides of the tube to let a bit more air into the tube. The put the cap back on and shake the tube up for about a minute.  This is especially true for the umber paint. 
  • Good to know, all my tubes have been laying on their side with no air in them. Will do this now.
  • @talorpaints. Just to be clear.  You only increase the amount of air immediately before you shake it up before squeezing out of the tube.  After squeezing the paint out you want to also squeeze out the air so that when it is stored you don’t have air in the tube.  Air in the tube will cause the paint to dry out.  
  • I also don't think it's the canvas or the brushes. Those ripples look like you applied fluid paint thickly.  This then developed a dry surface skin which sagged over still wet paint beneath.  To avoid this, keep your darks thin and dryer. I know that's hard with Geneva because they are meant to be used straight from the tube without adding medium. This means they have a uniformly runny consistency. 
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