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Hallelujah, its is finished

A few weeks ago I posted about a painting restoration I was working on and I completed it and it was recognized today at their service with a few comments from yours truly. I added a few pics. I tried to get a close up of where I had scraped old paint off and then repainted but they did not show enough detail. Anyway, pretty happy with it and was a wonderful pastoral scene conceived by the original painter, Dorothy Horne Decker. She has miniature portraits of presidents Eisenhower to Bush at the Butler Institute in Ohio and has done a number of Governors, mayors,and business folks. It was an honor and an educational experience to have this opportunity. I had worried about the final varnish but took my time to get a good even layer and it worked well.
About the pictures, the 1st is a side view to show size of painting, 7X16. 2nd is view from sanctuary. 3 and 4 are closer to show all of the paint side to side and the last is a straight on. Now I can go to Florida with a clear conscience.


  • Gfish

    Wonderful restoration. Looks as good as new.

  • Agreed Denis...Truly Wonderful! I know you're very proud. Bravo Job!
  • What an undertaking! Congratulations!
  • You are one talented person...BEAUTIFUL JOB! now grab your fishing pole and relax!
  • Congratulations Gary! The painting looks great, you obviously did a wonderful job of restoration. Now, come on down. The weather is great and the fish are waiting!
  • Thanks to each. My hope is the the painting will not have a long life. It is 44 years old and had not had good care. That has changed and with the linseed oil I applied, repainting, and finally the varnish It should last.
  • Gfish

    I have a few questions. Apologies in advance if you have already covered these aspects.

    What percentage of the painting area needed repainting?
    What percentage had the water damage?
    Why does the empaneled view (1571) look as if it is backlit? Or are there narrow beam spotlights?
    What sort of support does it have?
    If a new painting has a rating of ten, what is this painting rated at?
    Did you learn anything interesting about Decker's materials or techniques?

    Only brief answers needed, the fish are waiting.


  • What a beautiful painting... good job! I would imagine Dorothy is very appreciative! =D>
  • Bubba G - surely you mean "My hope is the painting will not have a long life."
  • This is GREAT! Wish I could see exactly which parts you fixed, but then you would have failed. Fantastic!!! Did the congregation really like it? What was the reaction?
  • It's absolutely wonderful! WOW! ^:)^
  • Gary - oops, fast typing and not checking, dang.
    Thanks Shirley
    Denis - 1/3 was flaking and was scraped off mostly in the grass and browns. I think sap green and burnt umber. At least that is what I used to match. It is an interesting experience to try to match another's work.
    There was water streaks on most of it but most of that went away when I rubbed linseed oil on the painting to revive the oil. Some water streaks are visible but only up close and seem to be where the water may have slightly bleached the oils.
    On pic 1571, there is an overhead light in the area above the painting.
    The support is plywood panel with what appears to have been a painted base layer, mid-tone. I believe that this was part of the problem with the flaking of paint because some of the oils did not adhear well. At the same time, for years they would fill the baptistery with water, heat it and had no vent fans to help with moisture. That has been corrected.
    Not sure what you are asking on the rating of 10. I feel that Dorothy did a wonderful job on this. Her painting is very loose but has that quality of appearing detailed at a distance. I will add a posting to show a close up. The close up is of some of the stream but not a very good pic.
    As I said, her work was loose but her sense of creating depth was soo good. The distant areas are very good at giving the feeling of distance.
    I had a very appreciative response from the people at the church. They really like the painting and as I shared some history about it, I knew Dorothy, I think for newer people it created a greater appreciation of what they have. It is very unique.
    This was a great experience for me and I found that I really enjoyed the restoration process. If I was younger I would consider doing more of that. :)
  • Gary

    Thanks for that. I'm very interested in conservation and restoration issues.
    The rating of ten question was about the physical condition of the painting.
    Apologies for not being clear.


  • Great courage to take on something like that! Looks like you did a great job, did they like it.
  • Thanks Ronna, Garry, Jonny. It went well Jonny and was well recieved.
  • Gfish, Outstanding job! Restoration is not as easy as it may look at times, but this one sounds like it was a real challenge. Having a third of it flaking off is a scary and very hard thing to restore, especially on a ill prepared wood panel. Wood panels can make a nice support, but any wood support that will be painted in oils, needs to be sanded, sealed and shellacked (sp?). Not house paints which is what it sound like you are saying this was done with. House paints are far from waterproof or even water resistant. Sealer and then shellac is not totally water proof, but if the edges are done well and a few good coats of shellac on the back and front to stop warping. Shellac will make a good surface for oils after a light sanding. This helps adherence, but also your paint will not slide around and causing coverage problems. The oil will adhere to the shellac very well. I know several plein aire painters who use birch panels prepared this way

    Again, WELL DONE! :-)
  • Thanks AZ. I never heard of using shellac as a prep for panels. I will have to try it sometime. I do not know what the prep was on Dorothy's panels but I do suspect it was acrylic paint from what I can see. Yea, it was scary and when I saw how much paint was going to come off I took a bunch of pics. Sadly I did not keep them or cannot find them. I talked to the painters daughter and obtained the palette that was used. I guess she never changed and that helped a lot. Once I got going it was easier and I got bolder and it was fun after that. After the fact I really enjoyed the process.
  • edited February 2013
    AZ, I don't dispute your advice--shellac does indeed make a good sealing undercoat for varnishes, oil paints, etc. And white-pigmented shellac has long been used to block stain bleed-through. However, shellac is not suitable around water. If you finish something like a table with shellac (french polish), it will water-ring right away if a condensing drink is set on it or cloud up from contact with anything damp. Of course, if a good coat of varnish or other tough finish is applied over the shellac, then there will not be a problem because the shellac is shielded from the water. So, whether or not shellac should be used depends on this consideration.
  • Amien has a good discussion on the virtues and vices of shellac and gesso grounds.
    The general gist is that shellac doesn't absorb moisture (from the air) but the surface will look like a crocodile skin in 80-100 years.

  • CharleyBoy. Thank you and good to know. I was not thinking of it being around water. I saw the damage was caused by getting wet from the Baptismal, but in the final picture the painting appeared to be moved away from it's original place to a new place where it would not be subject to water. Maybe I should have checked with Gfish about that. Thanks though and I will remember that.
  • The painting is in the same position, basically setting on the back edge of the tank. The big problem was not from splashing water. (That would be a robust baptizing, lol). The church member in charge would fill the tank, turn on the heater and heat to 80 sum degrees and then let it set that way for 2-3 days. No exhaust fan, doors all closed. Basically a steam room with condensate running down the painting. They had done this for 25 plus years. Now the large doors that expose the painting to the sanctuary are always open if there is water. Also an exhaust fan. The biggy is a recent upgrade with forced air and the return is above the painting in the ceiling. That move a lot of air through the area so I don't believe condensate will be an issue in the future.
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