Problem with Geneva Paint finish on drying

Hello all,

I am posting this to see if anyone else is facing this issue with Geneva paint.  I am facing issues where the finished painting is ending up splotchy after drying. 

The problem - The oil paint creates an uniform, smooth look for the first 8 to 12 hours when I cover the canvas with the first layer.  But the paint that is added on the second or the third day, it ends up having a totally different finish after drying. The paint on the 2nd and the third day is from the same palette that I had mixed at the beginning and I did use the brush to thoroughly blend each color before I apply it on the canvas for blending or adding finishing details. 

I have only used Geneva paint without any medium of any kind. I did stir the paint well before bringing it to the palette for mixing. In addition I did ensure to thoroughly blend the paint on palette each time with the brush, before I applied it to the canvas. I am not sure what I am doing wrong or if there is something wrong with the Oil Paint itself.

Request you to look at the attached PDF with details of the painting from the first two days and then the finished painting on the 8th day after it has dried. The end result is a very splotchy painting. 

Any help, guidance this group can provide will be very helpful. Thank you in advance.


  • SummerSummer -
    edited December 2015
    Hello @sminkal  This may have something to do with the fat over lean rule.  Are you adding a drop of oil to subsequent layers of paint that you use?  This type of thing happens when underlayers are still trying to dry but can't because top layers have already dried.  If the underlayer of paint has dried at least to the touch, you must add a drop of oil to the top/next layer as you paint so both layers can dry at the same time.  Not too much oil, just a drop will do. :)
  • Mark_CarderMark_Carder admin
    edited December 2015
    This is normal and all quality oil paints will become flat and matte in places after they dry thoroughly. If you plan on working on the painting more then you should oil it out like I explained in the video below. If you do not plan on working on the painting anymore then after a couple months it will be ready for varnishing with gloss varnish. Both the oiling out or the gloss varnishing will restore the paint to how it looked when it was wet and fresh.
    [Deleted User]SummerRonsminkal
  • @ Summer - Thank you for the inputs. I did not use any oil or any other medium for any of the layers. I used Geneva paints and the paints stayed wet on the palette and the canvas for 3 to 4 days that I worked on the painting. The paint is looking different after drying, based on when it was applied. The paint applied on day 1 is looking matte, whereas the one that I added on 2nd or 3rd day has a glossy feel, leading to the splotchy finish.

    @ Mark - Thank you for the inputs. Follow on questions,
    The painting has been drying for the last 7 days. The paint is dry to touch on the entire canvas. I do not intend to work on it anymore. Should I still go ahead and dab it with a linseed-oil clothe?  Or will the splotches disappear if I wait for 4 to 6 weeks? 

    Am I varnishing the painting to get it a uniform look? And, if yes, should I apply it now, after dabbing the canvas with a linseed oil cloth? Or should I wait for 4 to 6 weeks, and then varnish it as you have mentioned in the video? 

    Thank you again. This is very helpful.
  • @sminkal If you are not going to work on it more, don't oil it out. The splotches will not disappear on their own, but that is normal — oil paint requires varnishing (not just to get rid of these matte areas, but that is one of the reasons).  And yes, you should wait to varnish as detailed on the final page of the Online Course:

    The only reason (in my opinion) that you would maybe oil a painting that you will not be working on again is if you need to show it to people immediately, since oiling out is a short-term fix for the matte areas. I discussed this a bit in this thread:
  • Please let us know the results.
  • @David Thank you for the detailed explanation and the links. This was very helpful. It took me a while to go through all the threads. 

    I did oil out a portion just to see how it works. The matte/ gloss finish became uniform right away. Though, after a few days, it went back to how it looked in the pictures I posted in the original post.

    I guess, I have to wait for a few months when the painting is completely dry and ready for varnish. I have never done this but I intend to use a glossy finishing varnish. I will re-post the final image once I am able to do that.

    The lesson I have learnt is to finish my paintings quickly. I started painting only a few months back as something I do over the weekends. All of the 6 oil-paintings that I had done till this one, were completed over a Saturday-Sunday. This one was the only one I that I spent a whole week on. I started it on a Saturday and then went back to it on Thursday again because of the long weekend.

    In retrospect, i) I should have oiled out when I started painting again on Thursday and ii) I should have added a drop of linseed oil to the paint that was still on palette. Even though, Geneva paints looked wet and easily workable, I think the underlying quality of paint on the palette had changed because of the oils that had started drying after 4 days.
    This was such a learning experience for me. I thought oil painting was all art.. looks like there is a science to it after all and a lot of it.. :) 

  • Hisminkal, nice painting. 
    I read somwhere that on touch dry oil painting can be applied retouch varnish which will work the same and you dont have to wait for so long.. Anyone have experience with that? 
  • jaromir

    yes, but only as a last resort if you need to photograph the painting for publication, or presentation and sale to a client. Best to allow natural drying for six months and then final varnish.


  • Oiling out is just a temporary fix. I've seen paint do a lot of different things (Geneva and other brands) when they're drying, it depends on a lot of factors and some unknowns (to me). Once varnished it will all be the same.

    Looking forward to seeing your new work @Kingston.
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