Can You Put Gesso Over Oil Paint? Find Out Here!

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Time to read: 17 min.
Michael Smith
I'm Michael Smith, the founder and creative director of Art and Drawing. With over a decade of experience in the art and design industry, my keen eye for detail and passion for creating inspiring artwork drive my work. I'm dedicated to capturing the world's beauty through vibrant, expressive pieces that spark imagination and emotion.

There is often confusion about whether gesso can be applied over oil paint. Some artists want to reuse canvases for new paintings, while others are looking to cover up a painting they don’t like. However, it is important to understand the proper techniques and materials for priming and preparing a surface for painting. Let’s explore this topic further to provide clarity on whether gesso can be used over oil paint.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gesso should not be applied over oil paint.
  • Proper techniques and materials are essential for priming and preparing a surface for painting.
  • Consider alternative methods, such as re-stretching the canvas, if you want a completely new surface.
  • Seek guidance from professionals or attend art classes for personalized advice and tips.
  • With the right approach and dedication, you can transform an old oil painting into something new and beautiful.

Can You Cover an Oil Painting with Acrylic?

When it comes to covering an oil painting, using acrylics is not advisable. The resilience and longevity of oil paint create a surface that doesn’t adhere well to acrylics, modeling paste, or gesso. Applying acrylics over oil paint can result in peeling over time, compromising the integrity of your artwork. Therefore, if you’re looking for a fresh start for your oil painting, it’s best to use oil paint as the covering medium.

Oil painting offers a range of techniques and painting tips that can help you achieve the results you desire. By utilizing the same medium, you can build upon or transform your existing oil painting with confidence, ensuring the longevity and integrity of your artwork in the process.

It’s important to consider art techniques and painting tips that are specific to the medium you’re using. Acrylic painting and oil painting have different properties and behave differently on the canvas. By working within the boundaries of each medium, you can create beautiful and cohesive artworks.

Next, we will explore the process of starting over on an oil painting and the steps involved in transforming a painting into something new. By understanding the proper techniques and approaches, you can confidently take your oil painting in a new direction.

How to Start Over on an Oil Painting

If you want to start over on an oil painting, there are specific steps you can follow. First, ensure that your existing painting is completely dry. Then, create a mixture of half white oil paint and half fast-drying medium, such as Galkyd or another suitable medium. Using a large bristle brush or a rubber spreading tool, apply this mixture to the entire surface of your painting, covering it completely or leaving some parts visible. This allows you to create a fresh foundation for your new painting.

Starting over on an oil painting requires thorough preparation of the canvas. By priming the surface with a mixture of white oil paint and a fast-drying medium, such as Galkyd, you can create a solid foundation for your new artwork. The white oil paint provides a blank canvas that allows your new colors to shine, while the fast-drying medium helps speed up the drying process. This technique ensures that your fresh strokes adhere well to the surface, providing a smooth and durable result.

Starting over on an oil painting gives you the opportunity to explore new techniques, colors, or themes while preserving the texture and depth that oil paint offers. Whether you’re seeking a fresh start or transforming a previous painting into something new, the process of priming the canvas is crucial for achieving a professional and long-lasting result.

Following paint tips for starting over on an oil painting:

  • Ensure the existing painting is completely dry before applying the new layer.
  • Create a mixture of half white oil paint and half fast-drying medium.
  • Use a large bristle brush or a rubber spreading tool to apply the mixture evenly.
  • Cover the entire surface of the painting or leave some sections visible, depending on your artistic vision.
  • Allow the newly applied layer to dry completely before starting your new painting.

By following these painting tips and priming your canvas effectively, you can confidently start over on an oil painting, revitalizing your artwork and exploring new creative possibilities.

Benefits of starting over on an oil painting Considerations for starting over on an oil painting
Opportunity to explore new techniques and styles Potential for cracking or absorption of new layers by the old painting
Preserves the texture and depth of oil paint Risk of the original painting showing through the new layers
Creative challenge and fresh artistic inspiration Value assessment of the existing painting

Starting over on an oil painting allows you to unleash your creative potential and breathe new life into your artwork. By properly priming the canvas and considering the benefits and considerations, you can confidently embark on this artistic journey and create a masterpiece that reflects your artistic vision.

Understanding What Makes a Painting “Bad”

Before starting over on a painting, it is important to analyze and understand what makes it “bad” or unsatisfactory. Take the time to study your painting and identify the aspects that you and others find displeasing. By asking for feedback from friends and family, you can gain different perspectives that will help pinpoint areas requiring improvement or modification.

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When evaluating your painting, consider factors such as composition, color harmony, brushwork, and overall visual impact. Look for areas where the painting lacks balance or harmony. Are the colors working together or clashing? Assess the skillful use of brushwork – is it smooth and controlled or messy and inconsistent? These observations will guide your understanding of what aspects need attention.

Identifying the Problematic Areas

When dissecting your painting, pay attention to the following elements:

  1. Composition: Is the arrangement of the elements visually pleasing? Does the composition lead the viewer’s eye around the painting?
  2. Color: Are the colors vibrant and harmonious? Do they convey the desired mood or emotion?
  3. Brushwork: Is the brushwork confident and deliberate, or does it appear hesitant and inconsistent?
  4. Value and contrast: Is there a good range of lights and darks? Does the painting have areas that lack depth or appear flat?
  5. Perspective: Is the illusion of depth accurately portrayed? Does the painting have a sense of space and dimension?
  6. Subject matter: Does the subject matter resonate with the viewer? Is it captivating and engaging?

By analyzing these elements, you will gain a deeper understanding of the specific areas that need improvement in your painting.

Remember, the goal is not to be overly critical of your work but to identify opportunities for growth and development as an artist.

Once you have identified the problematic areas, take the time to reflect on how to address them. Research painting tips and techniques related to the specific issues you’ve identified. Explore different approaches and experiment with new methods to overcome the challenges presented by your painting.

In addition to self-reflection, seeking the insights of other artists can be invaluable. Join art communities or take part in workshops and classes where you can receive constructive criticism and learn from experienced professionals. Collaborating with other artists can provide fresh perspectives and inspire new ideas.

Remember, the journey of an artist is one of continuous growth and improvement. By taking the time to understand what makes a painting “bad” and working to address those areas, you can transform your work and develop your artistic skills.

Transforming a Painting Into Something New

Once you have covered the areas you want to change on your painting, it’s important to approach the process with a positive mindset. See the existing painting as a starting point for something new and beautiful. Not all paintings you initially dislike are lost causes – sometimes, pushing through resistance and completing the painting can result in a masterpiece.

Embrace the challenge and try to finish your paintings, as each completed work teaches you valuable lessons. Remember, art is a journey of exploration and growth.

“Every artist was first an amateur.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Learn from Your Mistakes

Every stroke of the brush, every color choice, and every composition decision contributes to your artistic development. By persevering and finishing your paintings, even those you’re initially unhappy with, you gain insights and experience that you can apply to future works.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment. Allow your creativity to guide you and trust your intuition as you transform your painting into something new.

Refine Your Technique

Completing a painting that challenges you and pushes you out of your comfort zone helps you build your art techniques and skills. As you work on improving specific areas, be it color mixing, brushwork, or composition, your confidence will grow, and you’ll develop a unique artistic style.

  • Experiment with different brush sizes and types to achieve desired effects.
  • Study color theory and explore various color combinations to create mood and harmony.
  • Pay attention to the overall composition, ensuring a balanced and visually engaging artwork.

Find Inspiration in the Unexpected

As you transform your painting, be open to unexpected outcomes. Sometimes, the “mistakes” or unplanned elements become the most captivating parts of the artwork. Allow the process to surprise and inspire you.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

– Cesar Cruz

Your willingness to take risks and embrace the unknown can lead to breakthroughs and innovative creations.

Look at your painting with fresh eyes, explore different perspectives, and let your imagination flow. With perseverance and a positive mindset, you will transform your painting into something new, unique, and reflective of your artistic journey.

Transforming a Painting: Tips and Techniques
Tips Techniques
Approach the process with a positive mindset Focus on refining your technique
View the existing painting as a starting point Experiment with different brushes and colors
Don’t be afraid to take risks Pay attention to composition
Learn from your mistakes Find inspiration in the unexpected

Assessing the Risks of Painting Over an Old Oil Painting

When considering painting over an old oil painting, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved. There are two primary concerns you should keep in mind:

  1. The original painting may show through the new layers
  2. The old painting may absorb the oil from the new layers, causing cracking

Let’s look at each of these risks in more detail:

Original Painting Showing Through

One concern when painting over an old oil painting is that the original image may show through the new layers. This can interfere with the desired outcome of your new painting. However, with proper preparation, you can minimize the chance of this happening.

To address this risk, it’s essential to prepare the surface adequately before applying new layers of paint. This could involve sanding down the original painting, applying a suitable primer or ground, or using techniques such as oiling out. By taking these necessary steps, you can create a smooth and uniform surface that provides a solid foundation for your new artwork.

Potential for Cracking

The more significant risk when painting over an old oil painting is the potential for cracking. If the old painting absorbs the oil from the new layers, it can cause the surface to crack over time. This can significantly affect the overall look and longevity of your new artwork.

To mitigate this risk, it’s crucial to consider the composition and condition of the existing painting. Assess the thickness and integrity of the original paint layers. If the old painting has layers that are thick and potentially unstable, it may be best to choose a different approach or paint on a new canvas altogether.

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Before deciding to paint over an old oil painting, carefully weigh these risks against the potential benefits. Consider the condition and value of the existing painting, as well as your artistic goals for the new artwork. If you’re uncertain or concerned, it may be helpful to seek advice from professionals or experienced artists who can provide guidance based on their expertise and knowledge.

Remember, painting over an old oil painting can be a creative and transformative process, but it’s important to assess and understand the potential risks involved. By taking the appropriate precautions and making informed decisions, you can confidently proceed with your artistic endeavor.

Proper Preparation of the Old Surface

To prepare the old surface before painting over an oil painting, follow these steps:

  1. Remove Varnish: If there is any varnish present, use a varnish remover to remove it from the surface. This step ensures proper adhesion of the new layers.
  2. Lightly Sand: Gently sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper to create a rougher texture. This helps the new layers adhere better and also removes any brush strokes or imperfections.
  3. Clean Thoroughly: Clean the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris. Ensure that the surface is completely dry before proceeding to the next step.
  4. Oil Out the Surface: To reduce the risk of the new painting cracking, consider oiling out the surface. Apply a thin layer of oil medium or linseed oil to the entire surface and let it sit overnight in a dust-free area. This step revitalizes the old paint layers and restores their flexibility.

Properly preparing the old surface ensures a stable and durable foundation for your new painting.

Image: An example of an oil painting – a relevant visual representation of the topic.

Applying a New Oil Ground

When painting over an old oil painting, it is crucial to use oil ground instead of acrylic gesso. Acrylic gesso won’t adhere properly to the previous oil layers. Consider using an oil ground, such as Gamblin Oil Ground, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Apply a thin layer of the ground using a palette knife, then smooth it out with a bristle brush. Let the ground dry for at least a week before starting your new painting.

Benefits of Using Oil Ground

Using oil ground for preparing the surface of your old oil painting offers several advantages. The oil ground provides a suitable surface for oil paint to adhere to without compromising the existing layers of paint. It also helps protect your new painting from cracking or peeling over time.

Pro Tip: Ensure that you apply the oil ground evenly, covering the entire surface of the old painting. This will create a smooth and consistent foundation for your new artwork.

Comparing Oil Ground and Acrylic Gesso

While acrylic gesso is commonly used as a primer for many painting surfaces, it is not recommended for applying over old oil paint. Acrylic gesso has a different composition and drying time compared to oil ground, making it less compatible with oil paint. Oil ground provides a better bond between the old paint layers and the new painting, ensuring durability and longevity.

To illustrate the differences between oil ground and acrylic gesso, let’s take a look at the following table:

Oil Ground Acrylic Gesso
Specifically formulated for oil paint Primarily used for acrylic paint
Compatible with previous oil layers May not adhere properly to oil paint
Provides a smooth and stable surface Dries quickly, creating a slightly textured surface

As shown in the table, oil ground is the superior choice when working with oil paint over an old painting.

Considering Alternate Approaches

While painting over an old oil painting is a common approach, there are also alternative methods you can consider when starting fresh. One option is to re-stretch the canvas, flipping it over and creating a completely new surface to paint on. Though this method may require more labor, it provides you with a brand-new canvas to work with, free from any remnants of the previous painting. Explore different approaches and choose the method that best suits your preferences and goals as an artist.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to art. It’s important to experiment and find what works best for you.

Table of Alternate Approaches

Approach Description
Palette Knife Painting Also known as impasto, this technique involves applying thick layers of paint with a palette knife to create texture and depth.
Collage Combine various materials such as paper, fabric, or found objects, with your oil painting to add new elements and dimensions to your artwork.
Mixed Media Experiment with different mediums such as acrylics, watercolors, or pastels alongside your oil painting to create unique effects.
Overpainting Instead of completely covering the original oil painting, selectively paint over areas to incorporate new elements and refine the composition.

There is no right or wrong approach to art. It’s about embracing creativity and finding ways to express your artistic vision. Whether you choose to paint over an old oil painting or explore alternative techniques, always remember to enjoy the process and let your creativity flow.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Before deciding whether to paint over an old oil painting, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons. Consider factors such as the risk of the original painting showing through, the potential for the new layers to crack, and the value of the existing painting. Assess the overall benefit of starting over versus utilizing a new canvas or exploring other artistic approaches. Make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances and artistic vision.

Pros

  • Opportunity for a fresh start: Painting over an old oil painting allows you to revitalize the artwork and explore new creative directions.
  • Cost-effective: Instead of purchasing a new canvas, utilizing an existing one can help save money.
  • Environmental impact: Reusing materials reduces waste, making it a more sustainable choice.

Cons

  • Risk of the original painting showing through: Depending on the thickness and opacity of the new layers, traces of the previous painting may remain visible.
  • Potential for cracking: Layering oil paint on top of existing layers can increase the risk of cracking and instability in the artwork over time.
  • Value of the existing painting: If the original painting holds value or sentimental significance, painting over it may diminish its worth or personal connection.
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By carefully considering these pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about whether painting over an old oil painting is the right choice for your artistic goals. Keep in mind that there are also alternative approaches, such as re-stretching the canvas or exploring other artistic techniques. Ultimately, choose the method that aligns with your vision and creates the best outcome for your artwork.

Seeking Professional Guidance

If you still have questions or concerns about painting over an old oil painting, it’s always a good idea to seek guidance from professionals who can provide valuable insights and expertise. Whether you choose to consult experienced artists or attend art classes, you’ll gain personalized advice and tips to navigate the process of starting over on an oil painting.

Professional artists and instructors have a wealth of knowledge in painting techniques, art materials, and creative problem-solving. They can help you understand the best approaches to achieve your desired results, whether it’s transforming an old painting or starting a new one. Their guidance can go a long way in refining your skills and developing your artistic style.

By reaching out and asking for help, you open up opportunities to learn from those who have faced similar challenges in their artistic journeys. Don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance when needed. Remember, even the most experienced artists continue to learn and grow throughout their careers.

The Benefits of Professional Guidance

  • Personalized advice and tips based on experience
  • Insights into painting techniques and art materials
  • Creative problem-solving strategies
  • Refining skills and developing artistic style
  • Learning from experienced artists’ journeys

Remember, the art community is supportive and nurturing. Seeking professional guidance is an important step toward honing your skills and achieving your artistic goals. Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with fellow artists who can provide valuable insight and support.

With professional guidance, you can gain a deeper understanding of painting techniques, explore new art materials, and receive feedback on your work. Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of others to enhance your artistic journey.

Whether you’re seeking advice on painting over an old oil painting or looking to broaden your artistic horizons, professional guidance can play a significant role in your growth as an artist. Embrace the opportunity to learn from others and watch as your artistic skills flourish.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when it comes to starting over on an oil painting, it is crucial to follow the right techniques and use suitable materials. Gesso should not be applied over oil paint. Instead, consider using an oil ground, such as Gamblin Oil Ground, to create a fresh foundation for your new painting.

Before you begin, take the time to assess the risks and benefits of painting over an old oil painting. Properly prepare the old surface by removing varnish, sanding lightly, and cleaning it thoroughly. This will help reduce the risk of cracking and ensure better adhesion for the new layers of paint.

Approach the process with a positive mindset and seek professional guidance if needed. Art classes and advice from experienced artists can provide valuable insights and tips to help you navigate the process successfully. With the right approach and dedication, you can transform an old oil painting into something new and beautiful. Happy painting!

FAQ

Can you put gesso over oil paint?

No, gesso should not be applied over oil paint.

Can you cover an oil painting with acrylic?

It is not advisable to cover an oil painting with acrylic. Acrylics won’t adhere well to the surface of oil paint and can peel off over time.

How to start over on an oil painting?

To start over on an oil painting, ensure it is completely dry, then create a mixture of half white oil paint and half fast-drying medium. Apply this mixture to the entire surface with a brush or rubber spreading tool to create a fresh foundation.

Understanding what makes a painting “bad”?

To understand what makes a painting “bad,” take the time to analyze and identify the aspects that you and others find displeasing. Ask for feedback and gain different perspectives to pinpoint areas for improvement or modification.

How to transform a painting into something new?

Approach the process of transforming a painting with a positive mindset. See the existing painting as a starting point for something beautiful. Embrace the challenge and try to finish your paintings, as each completed work teaches you valuable lessons.

What are the risks of painting over an old oil painting?

One concern is that the original painting may show through the new layers. Additionally, the old painting may absorb the oil from the new layers, causing cracking.

How to properly prepare the old surface?

Start by removing any varnish present using a varnish remover. Lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper to create a rougher texture and remove brush strokes. Clean the surface with a damp cloth and let it dry completely. Consider oiling out the surface with a thin layer of oil medium or linseed oil before applying a new layer.

How to apply a new oil ground?

Use an oil ground, such as Gamblin Oil Ground, instead of acrylic gesso. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and apply a thin layer of the ground using a palette knife. Smooth it out with a bristle brush and let it dry for at least a week before starting a new painting.

Are there alternate approaches to painting over an old oil painting?

Yes, some artists choose to re-stretch the canvas, flipping it over and creating a fresh surface to paint on.

How to weigh the pros and cons of painting over an old oil painting?

Consider factors such as the risk of the original painting showing through, the potential for new layers to crack, and the value of the existing painting. Assess the overall benefits and weigh them against other artistic approaches.

How to seek professional guidance?

If you have questions or concerns, consider seeking guidance from professional artists or attending art classes. Professionals can provide personalized advice based on their experience and expertise.

Conclusion

With the right approach and dedication, you can transform an old oil painting into something new and beautiful. Happy painting!