3 Common Oil Painting Problems and How to Resolve Them


3 common oil painting problmes and how to resolve themHave you ever had a problem in your oil painting such as cracking or dull finish? Have you had other oil painting problems and have not found any solutions?

Oil painting is a pretty forgiving medium, but there are things that can go wrong and ruin your artwork if you aren’t aware of them. The good news is that the most common mistakes are easily avoidable by following a few rules. Some damage can even be repaired.

3 Common Oil Painting Problems Resolved

Oil painting is one of the most versatile and correctable mediums. Even the most serious of issues can be reversed with the proper know-how and techniques.

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  1. I like using absorbant surfaces like timber that keep giving me a fresh surface to paint on but the finish IS patchy sometimes. I have been adding more and more medium. I thought you could use slow drying medium over a quick drying medium. Is this wrong in your experience?

  2. Susan Simmons says:

    I am an artist that works in many mediums but I just finished my first oil painting. It had dull spots and shiny spots. After it dried I oiled it out with a mixture of 80% linseed oil and 20% turpentine. It has been over a week and it is still very very sticky. Will it ever dry? I’m worried.

    • Gary Bolyer says:

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for writing. You used a very high percentage of linseed oil in your mixture and that’s okay. It will dry. It may take 3 weeks or more. Since this is the winter, it is likely cold where you live and this may slow the drying process even more. If is very cold where you live, bring the painting inside and it will dry faster.
      Thanks again,

      • Susan Simmons says:

        Thank you so much!!! You made me feel better. It is a Christmas gift for my son. A painting of his daughter. I got the percentage of oil to turpentine from someone online that does a video about oiling out.

        Thanks again,

  3. Liz Farley says:

    I use rather thin oil paint with a Grumbacher medium. I tried to start with the fat over lean idea but am never sure of how much medium to use at a time or how to control it. I have several layers of paint on this painting because I changed my skin colors and shadows too many times. Now, as I add more thin layers, they don’t want to cover. When I look at it the next day the surface is very blotchy and melds with previous layers of colors. I don’t know if I can use thicker paint over these thin layers. Please advise.

  4. Melissa Taylor says:

    I have just started with the wet on wet technique and wanted to know if once the painting has begun to dry and you have to leave it, can you later come back and apply some liquid clear and pick the painting back up? I have two paintings that I have had to leave and would like to be able to save them if at all possible. I have tried to find some answers everywhere I can think to look but so far I have been unsuccessful. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

  5. take what ever you’re using as a medium, i.e., oil, alkyd, etc., and rub just a little into the dry spots of the canvas to bring back the luster and value. Make sure it’s touch dry first. Doing this will allow you to match the area where you wish to continue so that when it dries later, you won’t have areas that are lighter in value. In areas where you are painting over old spots, you may want to add a little more oil in order to allow for the fat over lean principle. This, however, is not a big issue unless you are painting in glazes and or multiple thick layers. There’s no issue in continuing an “alla Prima” painting the next day or a week later or even a year. Do keep in mind, however, that an alla prima painting is just that – done in one session. David Leffel, however, continues work the next day or over multiple days if it’s a large piece. He just finishes one area and leaves it in such a way that it’s easy to continue on to the next the following day. Happy painting.

  6. Hi, I have an oil painting, and I used walnut oil as my medium. I completed this painting about a couple of months ago, and the surface is still tacky/sticky. I usually cover my finished and “dry” paintings with newspaper, and store them inside. I noticed today when I checked my painting that the newspaper was sticking to the painting. Is there anything I can do to get the sticky surface to dry?

    • Gary Bolyer says:

      Walnut oil like all the natural oils take a very long time to dry. Two weeks is not long enough for this oil to dry and that’s why it’s still tacky. It may end up needing a couple of months or more to dry completely. You can add Japan Dryer to your oil painting mediums to speed up the drying process in the future. Be careful with Japan Dryer as it will burn the colors if you use too much. Just use it very sparingly.

  7. i commissioned a painting an used liquid clear linseed oil i oiled it out at the end to even the luster now it is way to shiny the customer doesnt like it how can i dull it down so hen he hangs it on the wall and looks from the side of the painting is not all glared up.

    thank you

  8. How do you fix spots of oil paint that are not drying in an unventilated bathroom. I repainted the bathtub with first a coat of oil based primer and then two coats of oil based enamel; one was plain oil based, the other was polyurethane. Just certain areas aren’t drying. It’s 3 days later, they haven’t hardened.

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