Painting over a 10 year-old underpaintingApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
Question asked 2019-08-15 02:38:56 ...
Most recent comment 2019-08-16 16:50:35
I did an underpainting (self portrait) about 10 years ago. It was one initial thin layer either scrubed in tube paint or with a bit of OMS added. I think it possibly was the former as some areas have a slight sheen, but most of it is matte. I would have used the same process across the entire canvas, not with OMS in some areas and scrubed-in paste paint in others. I was reasonably accurate as far as drawing goes but no details. I didn't use OMS much then, as now.
For some reason I put this aside to dry and couldn't get the drive to re-start it due to a lengthy illness in the family, then eventually forgot about it. I am almost certain it was W & N acrylic gesso triple primed. It is a stretched canvas and there is no indication of paint/oil penetration to the rear of the canvas. It is life-size from top of a cap to below belt and I am reluctant to throw it away as it was part of my art journey at that time. The canvas probably needs tightening a bit.
I have read some of the discussions here about pentimenti; scraping, sanding and wiping with OMS and would appreciate your comments on my proposed method:
(1) Clean the whole canvas with OMS on a lint-free cloth. Let this dry. (2) As there are no raised areas/impasto, or indeed any surface imperfections, I would then sand it lightly to give a uniform matte surface. Taking care not to damage the acrylic gesso. Clean any particles off completely and (3) wipe it down again with OMS. Let this dry, then (4) apply a thin layer of titanium white. (5) Let this dry (fingernail indent test) then start painting in thin layers of paste paint straight from tube until I get to the desired finish.
Probably I should start a new painting but I want to re-use this existing canvas. If one day it 'fails' then that's fate I suppose.
Many thanks in advance.
Answers and Comments
If you are not trying to salvage the original image and are only repurposing the fabric and stretchers for sake of thrift, I recommend taking the canvas off the chassis, flipping it over and priming the reverse. Unless there is evidence of oil paint striking through, you should have a nice, receptive surface to prime. I guarantee the labor will be considerably less than what you're proposing!
I understand, it sounds like you want to preserve a faint image of the underpainting. You are likely aware that working back into an old canvas is pretty different from methodically proceeding from a fresh underpainting, ébauche, or frottis through subsequent stages to the complete work. If working into the long-dry, sanded paint is appealing, fair enough, but if you are essentially just preserving the drawing/design, there are other ways to accomplish that with a freshly primed surface (charcoal transfer, for example). Also, I'm not so sure top-coating everything with titanium white is the best approach. If you are only sanding to remove textural relief, and the goal is to leave a faintly visible remnant of the original, in my opinion it might be better to just sand further until the acrylic priming has been exposed, then work into that "ghost" image.
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