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  • Mistakenly mixed oils and acrylics, can I save my painting?ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-08-21 13:53:58 ... Most recent comment 2018-08-27 17:42:31
    Oil Paint Acrylic

    Hello and thank you in advance for your time.

    A few days ago, I painted a portrait on a 6"x6" gessoed wood panel using oil paints, or at least that's what I thought. When my paint tubes break, as they sometimes do, I put the leftover paint into small, clear jars. Unfortunately, a jar of acrylic ochre somehow snuck into my drawer of oil paints. I didn't notice anything fishy until the next day, when I returned to my palette and discovered that all of my paints were understandably wet with the exception of the hardened acrylic color.

    This painting has a light acrylic underpainting which I applied many months ago. The rest was completed a few days ago in one sitting. The use of this color is not isolated- it is incorporated into the whole portrait. However, although it was mixed into most of the piece, it is not neccessarily the majority color. I relied more heavily on reds, whites, and yellows when creating the skin tones. Removing the paint would mean destroying the work completely, which I am not prepared to do.

    I am wondering two things: 

    1) What will happen to my painting if I leave it as is?

    2) What options are available to me to attempt to rectify the situation? Would varnish or resin help hold it together?

    Thank you for your time.

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    It may be that, over time, this painting maintains a desirable appearance despite the unintentional mixed media composition, if the acrylic component is mixed homogeneously through the oil paint in small proportion. That said, for the purposes of care and maintenance, or how it might be presented to a potential collector, I would document what has happened, get some high-quality photographs and consider it an experimental mixed media work. Speaking as a studio artist (not a conservation professional), personally I would resist the urge to apply a heavy resin or varnish coating- in my experience, that approach seldom yields a good result. 

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2018-08-21 18:24:17
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​I completely agree with what Matthew has written. Thick layers of varnish seldomly help to consolidate flaking paint and I would not apply it unless that was an intended aesthetic effect to begin with. We have contacted a representative from Golden to see if they have anything to add.

    Brian Baade
    2018-08-22 13:41:35
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Hi -

    Just to add to the chorus, Matthew's response is a good one and we agree with it. We have at times done casual "experiments' of mixing acrylics into oil - not because we think it is a good idea, but because we know it happens, either by accident - as in your case - or more often by artists looking for novel effects or having an experimental /exploratory edge to their process. Nothing long term or systematic that we can share, but small amounts do seem to be able to be incorporated into the oil paints and 'appear' stable - at least for now. Long term is a more open question, and we think that adding more materials or layers at this point would simply complicate and expand the unknown risks. So leave it as-is and chalk it up to an experiment, and as Matthew suggests, make note somewhere of the materials and processes you used.

    Sarah Sands, Senior Technical Specialist, Golden Artist Colors
    2018-08-27 17:42:31

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