Would you clean this oil(?) painting and how?

Fori is not pleasedJuly 25, 2012

I have a little painting that is filthy. I think it's oil, or some sort of crusty paint. I think it's just dusty but it doesn't really come off. Same with the frame which is gold spraypaint or similar. It really brightens up in photos which is odd. It's much dingier than this. There is a spot where the paint is chipping off the high points so I know it's fragile.

I realize it's probably one step above paint-by-number but it's cute and different from my other stuff so I like it.

Would you clean it and how? I want to bring out the highlights and make it sparkle like a Kincaide! (JUST KIDDING!) I mostly have watercolors where you spit on the glass and wipe. :D Any ideas on frame vintage?


here is the chipping paint:

boat so fast the flags are streaming behind it!

And the location looks familiar. That really bugs me. Anyone know that rock? San Diego or Orange County?

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I think it's better than you think.....
How about a picture of the back.....any signature?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 6:39PM
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Fori is not pleased

Peeking under the tear it looks like it's backed with cardboard or some sort of flexible cardboard-like particle board.

No signature.

It looks so much better in photos than in person. Even peering through the camera it looks better!

It belonged to my grandmother who generally had impeccable taste, but she didn't display it so it could have been a gift or--worse!--something my grandfather picked up.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 6:49PM
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Stretched canvas....or board?
The composition is good,,,,,,the colors are good, the technique is good.....the frame..eh?
It looks like oil....if it is you use denatured alcohol on a cotton ball and blot blot blot....the cotton ball should be almost wrung out.
If it's not oil and is acrylic? That may ruin it.
How about an art gum eraser....and do the blot blot no rub bit?
I still think it's better than you think.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Fori is not pleased

Do I have to unframe it to see if it's canvas or board? Or poke at it? I can't tell by looking--it's covered with paint!

And I certainly can't tell oil from acrylic.

In real life it's dirty enough that new viewers don't recognize it as an ocean scene immediately. It's only ~9x11" plus frame.

Art gum eraser--is that the white ones or the squeezy blue one? Or the square yellow one? I used to know these things. O I can google it. :P

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 7:35PM
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Tap it on the back....through the hole in the paper. Actually take the paper off...it's not doing any good but hiding what the picture is....and it's easily replaced.
How could you not know it's an ocean scene??!!!...What??? Sail boats on the prairie??

(actually...if it were mine...I would take a cotton ball and moisten it with orvis soap and distilled or at least filtered water...squeeze out and blot blot on one corner and see what happens....but don't tell anyone I recommended that!)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Fori is not pleased

Orvis soap!!?? You're really making me work the Google today! I seem to be out of that right now...

Under the paper is cardboard held in very securely with finish nails. But the frame is actually wood. I had expected plaster or something. I'm not sure I want to try removing the nails. They're in pretty good at a tricky angle.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:37PM
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You don't suspect that the picture is painted on the cardboard?
Take it to a good frame shop and see if they know how to get it out of the frame.
You are a junker?? And you don't know orvis?? Best get you some....never know what you may find that needs it! Old lace, old quilts....old paintings!...Old Peruvian wraps????

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:42PM
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I looked up how to clean an oil painting as I'd forgotten this technique. Use soft squishy bread. Rubbing it with art gum is probably going to chip off more paint.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cleaning an oil painting.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:51PM
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Fori is not pleased

I'm not a junker! I just have a lot of JUNK! :P I don't actually buy anything unless I have a use for it. AT least I like to pretend I don't.

I'm pretty sure the cardboard is just holding the whatever in place, and isn't the actual back of the painting.

Squishy bread, Bmom? Hmmmmmmm. It seems harmless...

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 10:52PM
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Don't rub.......push it at it and remove....blot blot blot. You rub you may remove some hunks of the paint. And as of yet you don't know if it's stretched canvas.....which will have a lot more flex than board......and flex means popping paint.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Imhappy&Iknowit IOWA zone 6b

Antiques Road Show! How many times has someone taken something there and found out it's worth a hundred thousand dollars!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Fori is not pleased

Ah yes...the long lost unsigned piece from Picasso's "Seagull period"!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:19PM
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If it were an original Winslow Homer, then I'd suggest throwing it in the dishwasher.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:58PM
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Fori is not pleased

Again, do I need to remove the frame before putting it in the dishwasher?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 12:06PM
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A little bit of knowledge..... Suggest you unframe the piece. There may be a signature hidden by the awful frame. The type of sail boat and scene is European in style. Doubt if you have a masperpiece but you sure don't want to be daubing with this and that until you find out what you have. IF it turns out you have something worthwhile, there are professional conservators that can clean paintings.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 1:28PM
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My grandfather was an artist and painted with acrylics anywhere from the 1940's until he passed in 1977. He painted on stretched canvas or board. I bet your painting is on an artists board which can look like cardboard from the back.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 1:32PM
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As an artist myself, it appears to be an oil painting and a nice one at that. I would remove it from the frame and look for a signature, you can use a loupe or a strong magnifier to view it. If you find a signature then google it and leave the painting alone until you find out if it's a good one. From the looks of the boats and the entire scene I'm guessing it's an English painter. I like it.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 1:16AM
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Fori is not pleased

First of all, why no love for the frame? :P

I took off the frame and it is indeed painted on a board (but not the cardboard). It's also an exactly perfect fit for the frame. It's almost--not quite--as dingy under the frame as on the viewable area so I guess it can't be cleaned except for the dust line.

So....is the frame really that bad?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 4:18PM
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"So....is the frame really that bad? "
Yes!! LOL!...What does the back of the frame look like without the paper on it?

I know you don't like it but it's really quite nice. Needs to be in a frame sort of like linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: 19th century seascape

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 4:34PM
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Fori is not pleased

The paper is really stuck to the back of the frame. One spot that escaped gluing looks like naked pine.

Now, I DO like the painting, it's just not as good lookin' in person as it is magnified on camera! It is small and the colors and details are not as distinct as they appear here. It looks like obscure shapes until you get really close. I suppose if I put a frame like that on it, people would have to get really close to see what all the fuss was about!

The large ship is under 2 inches tall--the whole thing is less than a foot wide. Seems like one must be careful to not overframe it?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Find a museum near you....look for the 19th century sea and landscapes....notice the framing.
It needs "over framing".
I don't have time now to find a link....but Philadelphia museum of art will have a nice display of same....notice the framing....
It's nice.....really it is!!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:28PM
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Fori is not pleased

Okay okay I'll look for a better frame. A sparkly big frame with a tiny hole for my tiny painting! :P

So I guess there are still framing shops somewhere...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 8:59PM
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The frame's the thing......seriously!!

Here is a link that might be useful: frames

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:21PM
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Wow, what a great little painting. I have quite a few anonymous little ocean scenes...and I would have bought this one in heartbeat. I think it's very good, and even like the muted color.

I'd be very careful, get a soft watercolor paint brush and dust off the dust. As for any heavy cleaning, I would try to find out more about the painting first. It could be valuable, and you might ruin it if you don't know what you are doing, especially if there's already cracking in the paint surface.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Hi fori, That's a charming little painting.

The varnish has yellowed. To really get the colors back, you would need to remove it and revarnish. Since you're losing paint in the center, I'd be loath to try this myself. OTOH, painting restoration can be kind of pricey. A restorer would take off the old varnish, stabilize the areas of loss with adhesive, inpaint, and revarnish. The painting would look great. But depending on where you live, it could cost more than the painting is worth.

It looks like oil on board to me, too. You might be safe with a water-dampened cotton ball or soft cloth in the areas with no cracking, just to see if you can get the surface dirt off.

As for the frame, I like it, but I think it belongs to a later period. Still, if it were mine, I'd be more inclined to spend a couple of hundred on restoration than on a new frame.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 4:15PM
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You mentioned flags flying in the breeze. Those are not flags, but are "tattle tales". These help the sailor to set the angle of the sails for maximum propulsion. Maximum propulsion occurs when the part of the sail next to the mast aligns with the tattle tale.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the suggestions. I don't think I'll have it professionally restored, at least not at this point.

Jem, I guess you're right, but aren't they still flying the wrong way?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 6:59PM
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After a good dusting you might want to put a coat of linseed oil on it with a soft brush and then gently wipe it down.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:36AM
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The link below tells all you want to know and more about telltails.....which is what I think Jemdandy meant when he said tattle-tales.

Here is a link that might be useful: Telltails

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:47AM
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