How do I get paint flecks off of an antique oil painting?


I tried to pop-off one of these white paint flecks off of my grandparents' old oil painting and that tore through the canvas. I was thinking it was latex and now I'm thinking it's oil based. I think it's time to hand color the dots of white paint to match. You?

q how do i get paint flecks off of an anique oil painting
  13 answers
  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Jun 10, 2021

    I would call a local art studio in your area and ask them what they would use to remove the flecks and to repair the damages - maybe it is some quick and easy thing

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jun 10, 2021

    Then there are the art restorers who do this kind of work. Is there a museum nearby that can offer you advice on who to contact? Maybe they could help.

    An art professor could possible steer you toward somebody.

    If you attempt to hand color in the dots, you will have multiple raised "bumps" on the surface and they will be noticeable

    Best to you and a great question..

  • William William on Jun 10, 2021

    I agree you need a pro to remove the paint, clean the painting, and make the repair. The painting may be valuable.

  • I would take it to a professional to restore it.

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Jun 10, 2021

    Thanks. The University has a museum and I’ll give them a call.

    If I take it to a gallery, I suspect they won’t reveal their sources and “do it for me” and then mark up their vendors’ fees by 25%.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jun 10, 2021

    Hello, a pro is the best choice, especially if it's sentimental to you.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 11, 2021


    If there is an ART CONSERVATOR in your area, Give them a call.

  • Mogie Mogie on Jun 11, 2021

    If this was mine I wouldn't mess around take it to someone who does this type of thing for a living.

  • Dee Dee on Jun 11, 2021

    Call an art gallery in your neighborhood and ask what they would use to restore the painting. Call a College art department.

  • Betsy Betsy on Jun 11, 2021

    Hi Lifestyles: I think I'd take it to get appraised. If it's worth a lot of money, I'd have it professionally cared for. If not, then I'd go ahead and try to clean it myself. I'd ask the appraiser what he/she would recommend.

    Good luck

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jun 12, 2021

    Hi there, I agree with you. It will be better to hand color the paint spills with oil paint. Is the painting valuable?

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Jun 12, 2021

    Hello. One more try might be considered. First I might try to apply some moisture and see if the defect might soak off or begin to unseat. I would suggest trying a very small piece of paper towel and apply some water and try sitting there exactly on your spot on the oil painting. It may help to unattach or loosening it. Something very small to try to remove it like a vinyl weeding tool or needle approaching it from a lateral position might be advised. Most all paintings are sealed with varnishes shellacs our other sealers. The spotting should be sitting on the sealer —-not the actual painting.

    A very small amount of water like a quarter teaspoon on a paper towel likely will not affect your sealed painting.

    Or as you suggest some a talented art student probably could do the project easily for you.

    If you’re not ready to try another removal approach that’s understandable. If you do hand color the spotting you may need to consider another sealer as your paint will have different vibrancy and sheen than the existing old paint. A spray sealer rated for canvas artwork would be suggested after sheen color correction. Often they come in different sheens like gloss satin and matte that would be your personal determination.

    Also you can seal and repair your unintended tear from the backside using a patch method. I’ve done those times before when my canvases experienced accidentally tears with moving, shipping or a fall. There may be some need to re-color the front side slit fiber edge that could show the interior canvas or linens unpainted edges revealed by the opening. Hope this helps.

    • See 1 previous
    • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Jun 30, 2021

      As far as patching the back of stretched canvas I just checked the one that I had here -I donated to the dog rescue. An artist shipped me a painting from Australia with limited packaging and it tore. I was sent another painting and it looks like I donated the torn one to the rescue.

      Basically you’re going to try to moisten with water the REVERSE SIDE unpainted raw canvas fibers from the backside possibly apply a little heat with a hairdryer to perfectly flatten and position raw torn edges close together to make the defect from the faceside disguised. Then using a white glue apply a canvas patch. Sometimes you can put a piece of saran wrap ( potentially both sides) and a book on top of the patch on your hard working surface to make sure it is nice and flat rather than buckled.

      Then the top side needs to be re-blended with the replacement cover up paint. I have a whole closet of art supplies and paints of every type here. Restoration of thrift store items as one of the things I love to do

      If you should try to attempt to do this you might practice with a dollar tree canvas that you damage similar to your art piece……might be worthwhile to give it a shot perhaps building up your confidence and restoration abilities.

      You could even try doing this patch with a piece coffee filter and see if that satisfies the gap you want to fill. I would guess the patching would all depend on the part of the painting that is damaged and they need to repair and repaint it and if the tear area will have any gap or will it be well approximated closure. Hope this helps

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