Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Over and Over

Repose in Red, 18 x 14, oil on linen

Do you ever paint over old paintings? or do you always use fresh canvas? I get asked this question from time to time, and my answer is most of the time I like fresh canvas (oil primed linen) but sometimes I do paint over old paintings. 

When a surface gets built up, it tends to get in my way if I'm trying to do an alla prima sort of thing. I want to have complete control over the calligraphic marks I make, and I rely on the canvas texture a lot to do that. 

I also have a hard time if the surface has too much color / value activity because I can't judge my new strokes against irrelevant notes. They're just distracting. 

Paint it all out first and make a uniform toned surface? Sure, I can do that, but if I'm going to do that, it's much easier and faster to just use new canvas. And new canvas has the predictable texture that I like.

Having said all that, I still do use old painted surfaces for new paintings, if I know the painting isn't going to be a traditional (in a general sense of the word) painting. If abstraction is what I'm after, I don't mind all the existing color and texture. The unpredictability and irrelevance of the context often spurs new ideas and I make decisions which wouldn't have even occurred to me otherwise. 

The painting, Repose in Red is something I did a few weeks ago, and it's painted over an older painting. Actually, there're three paintings underneath this one. I think four is my limit - the texture become too pronounced after a while and I can't do what I need to do, even if I 'am doing this abstraction/process thang.  I guess I can sand it down, but again, too much trouble. 

Anyway, I like this one so I won't be painting it over.


  1. Hell yea! Don't touch that one. I am on the same page about painting over old paintings. I always think the best I can hope for is a "happy accident" because you can't control the strokes! Love your blog.

  2. This is amazing! I love the softness and light. I'm doing a series right now and I'm painting over old paintings for each one. Out with the old, in with the new. But it wouldn't work all the time like you said.

  3. I love this painting, you did a good job with it, I thought you run out of inspiration, but I can see you got it back an very strongly. Cheers Terry and happy holidays

  4. Thanks Nancy! Thnaks Stephanie!

    Happy Holidays!!

  5. Thanks Jesus~ and Happy Holidays to you too!

  6. Terry!
    I am thrilled you didn't paint over this one!
    It is so very beautiful on so many levels. I love the colors, the design, the muted affect, the atmosphere and so much more.
    Yes, I have painted over many paintings. Now I save some and paint over some. I do know what you mean about using a fresh canvas. I know I am very influenced by the undercoating of "used" canvas.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful work and your very interesting thoughts!

  7. Season’s Greetings – I’ve come to tell you to take a look at http://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/vote-for-best-artwork-on-art-blog-in-2012.html !

    One of your paintings has been nominated and selected for the "Place" category

    No lobbying allowed – but sharing the URL with people who follow you on Facebook and read your blog is fine.

  8. Ohh man love this .... Look at those skintones on those knee caps ... Dam loads of envy here ...:)