Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Painting Over an Old Painting

Ever screw up a painting?  Or stop a painting 'cause you couldn't get into it?  Between canvas restocking I sometimes paint over an oldie.  The other day I wanted a certain size and the only option was to paint over.  Here is what I found, about 12 years old judging from its storage location.

Old Landscape Start - in Oil

I have had a lot of painters ask me if they should gesso over the old painting.  NOT if you are painting in oil.  The gesso most people use today is acrylic gesso.  So you will get incompatible layers doing this.  So I start by doing a wash with a bit of alkyd, mineral spirits (or turpentine) and the transparent colour you wish to use to key the colour of the new painting.  That looks pretty innocent in its thin form.  Basically oiling in.

With a Red Oxide Wash

Then I locate the masses according to the thumbnail sketch.  For this painting I rearranged just about everything - the barn, the foreground, the background, the perspective....  made an addition to the barn....

Seeing Double

A bit confusing at this stage.  Here I established the darks then put some lights in the sky.  Just cover up the old stuff..... but not too much, I can already see that I might use some of the old painting.  Normally I would be more assertive in establishing the darks and leave the sky since it is not the subject of the painting here.  Then again, there is no normal.

Cover This, Keep That

I left the barn roof red.  Already too much green.  Some of the planes of the fields nearly coincided with the diagonals in the actual fields.  I can keep some of this to show structure and reduce the green.  Now I can Paint


This is sitting in the studio.  What to subordinate?


  1. Wow..!! Amazing work George,, Really love to see these painting... Thanks for sharing this..
    Oficina Mecanica Sorocaba

  2. That is awesome! :) I loved seeing the pictures of the transition! It's really cool how you incorporated the old painting into the new one!

  3. Corey,
    My concept is about making paintings as opposed to reproducing the scene a la camera. In order to proceed like this however, it is not a bad idea to be able to paint what you see. You can move on from there as far as the creative instinct tells you.