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Aging Your Canvas

There is nothing quite like the paintings of the “Old Masters” many of which are priceless works of art that none of us will ever be able to own.  Even those that are in museums we don’t get to lay eyes on near enough.  Old paintings have an indescribable quality to them that you just don’t find in modern work.  Not only are the paintings exquisitely done, you also need to understand how artists had none of the modern tools that artists work with today.  Artists stretched their own canvases, mixed their own paints and these pieces of art have survived for more than 500 years in some cases.

Copying the techniques used back then can take you years to learn.  There are shortcuts to make your paintings look and feel as old as a piece of art from the 15th century.  Forgers and artists who specialize in reproductions have been using these techniques to create prints that look just like the originals.  Let’s have a look at aging your canvas to look like an old master.

Tools You Need

Here are some of the things that you are going to need to age your canvas:

  • 5 to 10 teabags
  • Hot water
  • Thin brush
  • Fan brush
  • Cracking varnish
  • Gold oil paint

One of the easiest ways to stain your canvas and make it look old is with plain old tea.  You will need to soak between five and ten tea bags in hot water and then apply them to your canvas.  You want to stain your canvas before you start painting on it. This will give your painting that sepia tone of really old paintings making it look like it aged naturally.   Smear the bags over the canvas in a couple of different directions and then let your canvas dry naturally overnight.  Here is a look at how to stain your canvases.

Cracking Your Varnish

Once you have completed your painting it is going to need a coat of varnish.  You will also need to capture the look of varnish that has faded and cracked with time.  You will apply a coat of cracking varnish that you can get at almost any art store using a very fine brush.  The varnish will crack as it dries, but to make it look old you will have to add a very thin layer of gold paint with a fan brush so that the cracks stand out.  After that you will have to apply a final coat of varnish and let it dry for a couple of days.  There you have it, an aged painting!