Can This Painting Be Saved?

A tragic event occurred in my studio last week. A well loved painting took a dive off of a display easel resulting in a nasty two inch rip in the center of the canvas. Distraught does not even begin to describe the emotions that engulfed me. Yes, I realize that I shouldn’t get attached to any of my paintings, but this particular work is special as I truly painted out of my heart. And now my ‘heart’ had a major gash, not to mention an even longer scrape next to it. Once my husband was able to talk me down from the ledge I began to research ways to repair painted canvases. There was no time to send it to a professional restorer even if I had the money to pay for such a service. This painting had to be ready to hang in a show in nine days.
I opted to cut a piece of canvas the same size as my painting instead of just doing a smaller patch. At 16″x20″ my canvas is small enough to make this doable. Here is a shot of the rip from the back after flattening it over night with some heavy books. At the art supply store I chose an archival book binding glue. Next I simply glued the canvas piece to the back forcing out any extra glue with a scraper type tool. Then I put the weights (books) back on top and let it dry overnight. For the next step I carefully applied gesso in thin layers. We are talking A LOT of thin layers here. I probably could have done more if I hadn’t been so anxious to get on with finishing the repair. Finally I began to touch in paint, carefully matching colors and blending. At this point the scar was mainly covered, but I could still see that I had used heavier paint there than in the rest of the painting. So to help homogenize the look a bit I added some impasto paint to other areas. As if to say, “Yeah, I meant to do that!”. So, this is it. It’s time to walk away from the painting. What do you think? Here is the before the accident and after the repair.



Filed under art, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Can This Painting Be Saved?

  1. You did a great job. I have had experts repair works in the past and even though I can’t see it clearly it looks pretty good.

  2. It looks great, you can’t see the reair at all.

  3. cousinja

    Looks like you did a great job with the repair Leah. I had a similar experience when we lived in Maryland about a dozen years ago. At the time we had hired a maid service to clean our residence every week. On one occasion I entered the living room to inspect the work after their departure–and was shocked immediately to notice a 4 inch tear in one of my own 6 ft paintings. I surmised it to be at about “vacuum handle” height! Needless to say the cleaning crew knew nothing of this unfortunate occurrence and were, as a consequence, ceremoniously dismissed!!….

    You are correct, in that a common method for this kind of repair is to use a patch of canvas on the back–much like a skin graft; adhered with matte medium or some other archivally sound glue material. i remember temporarily taping the front side of the tear with packing tape first in order to pull the canvas together while keeping it level with books as a support underneath. then applying glue to the back; gesso to the front, sanding in between, etc…
    great to see your art obsession online.
    best, cousinja

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