How to Paint Over a Canvas Painting You Messed Up (Or Just Hate It)


Can you paint over a canvas painting that’s messed up, that you “goofed” on, or are just plain unsatisfied with? I’d be lying if I told you every paint project will go right 100% of the time.

And so it is, and was, with me.Story time! If you will recall from my previous post,  I had just completed my first official paint pour. I was over the moon. Until I opened the door to the closet that I had it carefully placed so it could dry. What I saw was …There was no words. Just cue the scratching record sound right about now.

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paint over canvas painting

Much to my consternation I saw one of my old paintings had fallen face down on top of my freshly painted fluid painting! How could this have happened??!!?? My work of art was ruined! And what are the odds of something like a painting that was just casually stuck behind it actually falling on a wet painting and ruining it? Man, the art gods must have had it out for me that night.

I probably said a few cuss words and stuff I wouldn’t post here….But then I realized, we;re all adults here and we don’t cry over spilled milk or paint. After I peeled off the offending painting that had spoiled everything, I was ready to trash it out of spite. It was mediocre, anyway.

The guilty offender…

I got one of my palette knives and proceeded to scrape off the “damaged” area of my new fluid painting.Correction on the dimensions: I believe it is a 12 x 24″ size. The culprit that fell is 16 x 20″ so most of the damage was in the middle. Some residual color had remained on the canvas, but I didn’t worry about that part.

I remember that I did all my paint mixing in strategically used containers with lids so I had paint already left over that I could use to redo the damage. Just as a point of comparison, here is the original work:

finished fluid painting


Then I- you guessed it…proceeded to re-pour. I knew it would not look just like the original but I did my best.

And after all is said and done, here is the re-done piece:

redo a paint pour

So YES, you can  perform a re-doing and paint over an already painted canvas whether it’s a paint pour, or something else. Redoing a painting that you “goof” on, or you’re just dissatisfied with, is more cost effective.

I’ve painted over canvasses plenty of times over buying new ones and starting from square one. Usually I’ll just apply a coat of white gesso to it and start over. Of course, you won’t need to do that with a paint pour.Here are some things to keep in mind:

If the Paint is Still Wet…

If the paint is semi-moist, scrape it off using your palette knife. Best to get to it as quickly as possible to make this easier. Get to it quickly….the drying time is a factor. I also did a small version of this one on an 8 x 10 size canvas and it was already dry in a matter of hours. Who knows?

When you scrape paint off the canvas discard the pieces in the trash, don’t try to rinse it down the sink.

If the Paint is Dry

Full Disclaimer: Since I have only got 2 paint pours under my belt, I can’t call myself an expert (yet.) But I can tell you what I know about acrylic paint in general from lifelong experience as this subject relates to paint composition.

Acrylic paint tends to contract as it dries, the top layer if it is thicker develops a type of “skin” over the bottom layer due to the presence of polymer binders., also water evaporates naturally as it dries. So if you are going to re-pour a piece of work that has dried, be sure to wait until it has “cured” which can take as long as two weeks.

There’s “dry” on a superficial level and then there’s “cured” meaning ALL of the layers of paint have adequately dried not just one layer.

Good luck to you and let me know how it goes!


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