The Indian Artist, Revamped: The Start of Something New

Good afternoon everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. I am pleased to announce that I have finally started a new painting after months of respite. I wanted to share some of the processes that can be used in order to prime a new canvas or repaint over existing work. I am a large proponent of reusing canvases and painting over old work/paint. Reusing canvases is a very cost efficient way to produce large works as brand new canvases can be upwards of $100-200.

Prepping Paper:

Paper is an affordable and great surface for painting. Canvas paper is available; however, paper can be prepared adequately to create something specially for oil painting.

Paper should be gessoed with multiple layers to create a barrier between the raw paper and the oils of the paint. Acrylic gesso is most commonly used. As a general rule, acrylic paint can be used only UNDER oil paint as a means of toning the surface or blocking in colors. Gessoed paper prevents absorption by creating a barrier, and can be achieved with a few coats of an acrylic gesso.

Preparing Canvas:

Cotton and linen are the two most common canvases used as surfaces for oil painting and come both primed and unprimed. The most common stereotypical white canvases all come pre-primed.  Primed canvas, still should be gessoed to create a sealed barrier between paint and undercoat, but in my experience, is not completely necessary.

The unprimed canvas on the other hand must be primed with various layers of gesso with light sanding in between layers. Make sure that the linen or canvas is stretched on a frame prior to priming in order to avoid any cracking and flaking.

Preparing Wood Panels:

Using wood is something that I have been meaning to try. This is a great hack to get cheap painting surfaced. You can easily go to your local hardware store and get a piece of simple and cheap plywood cut. The process is then the same in order to prime and prep the wood.  Gesso works as a protective barrier, avoiding deterioration of the wood and discoloration and cracks in your painting.

Sanding is a critical step in the wood preparation process. It smooths out and removes minor abrasions, and opens the pores of the wood to accept your gesso. Make sure to inspect your panel to see if wood putty would be needed to fill in abrasions and cracks beforehand. Then seal the uncoated wood panel against harmful oil absorption from the linseed oils utilized in specific underpinnings and oil paints. In the event that wood isn’t appropriately puttied or sealed before applying the oil paint, it will deteriorate progressively


All in all, regardless of what you choose to paint on (including various other materials such as metal and glass), you need to make sure to prepare the surface properly. If painting over an existing work, be careful to assess what type of paint was used. Oil can go over acrylic but acrylic cannot go over top of oil. Gesso and a sanding block are your best friends when it comes to creating a beautiful surface to work on. If you know that you have a sole acrylic painting, using a neutral color to black out the surface can be a quick and easy way to reuse the material for a new oil painting.

I hope you all enjoyed this longer more informative post! If any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me via my socials!


Until next week,







Riya A

My name is Riya and I am currently a Senior at U of M studying Molecular Biology with a double minor in Art & Design and Sociology on the pre-med track. Art has been a huge passion of mine from a very young age and in the final iteration of my column, I look forward to sharing my passions as they connect to my culture, medicine, and art.

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