How To Remove Oil Paint from Canvas

Oil paints have become popular because of their long lifespan and because most of the classic artists used oil paints when painting. Sometimes, however, you can make mistakes while painting with oil. If this happens, here are some steps to help you remove the oil paint from your canvas.

  • Timing. First of all, you should know that timing is everything when it comes to oil paintings. Remember, the faster you act the more easily you will be able to remove the oil paint. Oil paint takes a couple of days to dry, but the longer you wait the more the oil paint will harden. Once it has become very hard, it will be very hard to remove from the actual fabrics of the canvas that you are trying to paint on. Make sure that you act quickly when dealing with oil paints.
  • Scrape. To begin removing the oil paint from the canvas, you need to begin by removing the dried up layers of paint. Oil paintings are usually done in layers. The top layers will naturally be the first to dry out because they are exposed to the air and the liquid components of the oil paint can dry out faster. This layer can be removed by taking a palette knife and using it to scrape away the top layer of oil paint. After scraping the top layer of the oil paint, you will need to use an x-acto knife in order to remove the small bits of paint that still cling in the canvas.
  • Turpentine. After you have removed the dried up chunks of oil paint from the canvas, the next step is to take some turpentine. Turpentine is a solvent that is used for mixing paint, as well as for softening paint in order to make it easier to remove. Simply take a clean white rag and dip it in the turpentine. Afterwards, use this to apply the turpentine on the canvas. Allow the rag to sit on the canvass for a couple of minutes, so that the paint softens very well, and is released from the strands and fibers in the canvas. Afterwards, you can use the rag to scrub off the paint gently. Make sure that you work on only the parts of the canvas where there is paint that needs to be removed. Use circular motions in order to remove the paint without disturbing the other details of the painting.
  • Dry and paint. Another alternative is to simply apply a new layer of paint over the canvass. Priming the canvass means adding white paint over the canvass in order to make the canvass smoother and so that the paint does not stick directly to the fibers of the canvas. You can do a sort of second layer of primer by adding more white paint and allowing it to dry before repainting this spot.

Keep in mind, however, that you should try to avoid white paint in oil paintings, since this can dilute the colors adjacent to the stain or error that you are trying to correct. With these steps in mind, you should be able to easily remove oil paint from canvas.


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