A torn painting may seem like a disaster. Whether there is a dramatic rip tearing through the face of a portrait or the intricate details of a landscape, or a small puncture wound to the canvas, these damages can be flawlessly fixed by a specialist oil painting conservator.
When a painting is torn it makes the canvas unstable, creating a greater risk of paint loss and further damage to the rest of the painting. The longer it is left damaged, the higher the risk of loss to the original artwork. If your oil painting is ripped, ensure that you quickly contact a restoration company for advice.
How do you fix a ripped oil painting?
Firstly, the conservator will remove the old varnish from the painting. This allows them to prepare the canvas and restore it before reapplying a new protective layer at the end of the process.
Once the old varnish is removed, any flaking areas of paint will be consolidated. This means they will be re-adhered to the canvas as a protective measure, using careful conservation techniques.
The ripped canvas is then put back together thread by thread. This can be a time-consuming process, depending on the size of the tear. As the canvas comes back together, it will be stabilised again and at less risk of continued deterioration.
Conservation grade pigments can be applied to the areas where paint has completely disappeared, this is often the area of the tear itself. A conservator will only ever restore pigment to areas which are in true need of this intervention. Conservation pigments are fully reversible so that they do not detract from the historical and artistic integrity of the painting. This will be colour matched to the original painting, giving flawless results.
Once the canvas has received thread by thread repair and the missing paint is restored, it will be treated with a conservation grade varnish. Unlike historical varnish, this is a non-yellowing and UV filtering layer, which should offer protection for the foreseeable future.
Can I fix a ripped painting at home?
Torn paintings can be invisibly restored, but only by those with the correct training. You cannot repair a ripped canvas at home. The use of household thread, glue or sticky tape will be likely to significantly damage a painting further and it will be in need of further intervention from specialists in the future.