When you consider the delicate nature of the paintings I create using oil paints, mixed media or pastel on canvas or paper, I'm constantly surprised by how few accidents happen to the work. Last weekend was different. A client who has bought 3 large pictures over the past couple of years had texted me to say she has scraped a seascape oil painting, 3 foot by 4 foot, that she had just taken delivery of; it was an important birthday celebration gift from her husband.
When I first got to look at the damage it looked fearsome. A six inch wound with what looked like paint flaking off. After looking at it very hard back at the studio it started to look a lot less scary. I was able to see that the damage was limited to only the varnish layer, the paint layer was untouched. After googling how to get varnish off a painting without messing it up (Winsor & Newton web site was so helpful) I was able to gently remove the varnish using artists spirit which is gentler to a painting than artists turps. I was able to dissolve the varnish by applying the spirt with cotton buds. I deliberately removed the varnish within an area delimited by some brush strokes defining wave highlights so that you would not be able to tell I had done some work on it. I applied a couple of layers of spray varnish and once it was dry you couldn’t tell it had been in an accident. I was amused that the research I did took longer than fixing the painting.
The painting is now back on the wall, a different wall that’s not in scraping range.