The Many Methods of Painting Over Old Paintings

The Many Methods of Painting Over Old Paintings
Old Painting of a man playing guitar in the desert that needs to be painted over
Old Painting to be painted over

A while back I asked how people paint over old paintings and got a variety of methods.

  • Sand painting down, then gesso over using oil based gesso (acrylic won’t stick)
  • Just gesso over it with oil based gesso
  • Spray with oven cleaner or turpentine, let sit 20 min, wipe off (fume/fire hazard is pretty high with this one)
  • Just start painting
  • Use leftover paint all mixed together to make grey and cover
  • Lightly sand and clean with turpentine


Guitar Player in the Desert Oil Painting In Progress
Guitar Player in the Desert three quarters painted over

Since the plan is to paint the same image, I went with the last option. I simply very lightly sanded, then cleaned very thoroughly with turpentine and started painting. My painting had been sitting for roughly 5 years in dusty places so it had a thick layer of grime that needed cleaned off. I reasoned that since the oil paint was thoroughly dry, it could use a light sanding to help the new paint stick. If I planned on a new painting, I would’ve gessoed with an oil based gesso after sanding and cleaning. That seems like the least toxic path to the best results.

I’m stoked over the progress of my painting so far. It looks a million times better that it did before and it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that I’ll finally finish it. It was especially daunting in the wake of my frustration with painting another painting with lots of rock, but I’m glad I worked on it anyway.

If you’ve heard of or used other methods with or without success, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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