Art & Decor Trends

Restoring an Oil Painting

Recently I was asked about a painting restoration problem:

“I have an oil painting that has a bulge from being stored against a piece of furniture. Can the canvas damage be repaired, and if so, what method would you recommend.
Many thanks. Janice.”

This was my answer to Janice, hope this helps anyone out there attempting to restore an oil painting:

First, don’t try to do this yourself if the painting has any value — either sentimental or monetary. It’s a bad idea to experiment with restoration techniques on something you wish to keep (or sell). I would contact a competent restorer, since the age and specific formulation of the oil paints will affect the possible solutions.

If you decide to try and restore it yourself, first step is the old fashioned way of placing the bulge between two books or other flat objects and leave it on a flat surface, and see what happens. Also check to see if it needs to be cleaned. This will improve the bulge but will not take it completely away…

Next step in the process is to try and mix up some white gesso with a small amount of hot water. Paint that liberally over the BACK SIDE of the bulge and hit it lightly with a hair dryer to speed up the drying and the contraction of that material. Position the blow dryer about 10-14 inches away from surface using a fanning motion, begin drying from the frame around in circular patterns working your way to the indentation. (Use the indentation as the center of your circle or oval ….) This will stretch and pull the dented area flat. DO NOT OVER HEAT THE CANVAS!!!! Take your time and you will have good results.

It may take several coats but unless the bulge is really bad you will have a fair amount of success.

Hope this helps Janice or anyone else out there that is faced with a similar problem. Share your experiences if you can!

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.