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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Old mold stains on unfinished canvas. Safe to resume painting?ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-12-27 16:15:15 ... Most recent comment 2017-12-29 21:22:07
    Oil Paint

    ​Hello Everyone, I am seeking advice about old dried mold stains on stretched gesso-primed canvas.

    A few points:

    • The canvas is one I began 20 years ago and has been in storage since. When I retrieved it recently from storage, there were mold patches on both front and back of the canvas. (the front is gesso priming on cotton duck. The back is not primed; just raw cotton)
    • The mold is not extensive, only in the corners near the edge.
    • The moldy patches are on both the front and back side.
    • The mold is not heavy, it just appears as a light stain behind the image.
    • The mold appears to have dried years ago. It does not appear to be advancing, but the stains remain.
    • This painting is an underpainting, a single color of very thin paint (washes with oil paint & turpentine)
    • There's no heavy layer of paint on this canvas yet, just the thin wash drawingwhich is quite transparent. The mold stain appears behind the transparent underpainting. I could easily finish the painting which will cover the mold.


    1. If the mold is fully dried, is it safe to go ahead and paint on this canvas, as is?
    2. Or should I try to remove the stains before I resume painting on this canvas?
    3. If I do finish this painting, will there be subsequent damage from the mold being 'trapped' beneath new paint?

    Thanks in advance to anyone to offer me some guidance with this.


Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    In my opinion, it's not worth the risk, especially if the picture never got past the initial ébauche. As a studio artist, I understand why you are considering it, but should you decide to proceed on the infested canvas, you wouldn't ever want to release the work for sale, and you'd have to worry about the spores causing future issues. Just photograph the sketch and use it to inspire another work on a clean canvas.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-12-28 16:27:59
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Other than absolute poverty, there is no reason to take the risk of using this canvas. 

    Brian Baade

    2017-12-29 21:22:07

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