How to Make a Canvas Look Old

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Use dark colors like the Old Masters, such as Rembrandt, to give your painting an older look
Use dark colors like the Old Masters, such as Rembrandt, to give your painting an older look (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Old paintings have a more respected, mysterious quality to them. Copying the techniques of the Old Masters can take years of study, so give your painting an antique look through a few simple aging techniques. Cracks in the canvas and the dark, sepia stains of age hint at a painting's long history. Fool your friends and make your own canvases look like they've been around for hundreds of years by applying cracking and tea-staining techniques to your canvases.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 to 10 teabags
  • Hot water
  • Plate
  • Thin brush
  • Fan brush
  • Cracking varnish
  • Dark umber or gold oil paint

Tea Staining

Run five to 10 teabags under hot water and place them on the canvas. Apply them one at a time, immediately to the canvas. Tea stain your canvas before applying paint to give your painting subtle undertones of sepia. Stain the canvas after your painting is complete for a more pronounced aged look.

Dab the canvas until it's completely covered with tea stain. Smear the bags in all different directions to give it a more authentic look.

Allow the canvas to dry overnight before painting.

Cracking With Varnish

Apply a coat of cracking varnish -- available in most art supply stores -- to your painting using a thin brush. Varnish only after you've completed the painting and allowed it to dry. Oil paints take anywhere from two to five days to dry to the touch. Acrylic paints usually dry within several hours.

Allow the cracking varnish to dry. Apply a thin layer of dark umber or gold paint on top of the cracking varnish using a fan brush to make the cracks more visible.

Apply a final top coat of regular varnish using a thin, soft brush after the top coat of paint has dried for two to five days.

References

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