Spent months on this oil painting I'm working on, started in May of 2019. Guess you could say I am a beginner at painting with oil paints compared to other mediums.
Realized my paintings was starting to crack on the surface, after layers of oil paint. So I was doing some research on why it was doing this.

Apparently diluting the oil paint with linseed oil or something equivalent(turpentine is a cheap solution) to dilute the paint. Also called, 'fat over lean'. So you get a layered consistency, and then you keep using less and less of the solution with the oil paint, as the layers get fatter with oil. If you put a layer that wasn't leaner than the previous one. All the layers that are working together will create craquelure.

Craquelure is cracking on the surface of the painting, either from old age, or the layers closer to the surface drying before the underneath layers. Which would direct the result of the drying technique being the error. Not old age, resulting in a homogeneous texture.
(The image below is a small portion of the painting that has resulted in these cracks. It is the most visible cracks because of the color.)enter image description here

Found in an older forum online about oil painting and cracking. That saturating the already dried oil paint with lineseed oil, over several hours, and gently dabbing the oil with a cloth. Over a few hours it will start to become flexible again. Then are able to go back in with a fatter oil and fill it back in. There are others that state to just throw the painting out, and start over. Is there any good advice, to salvage an oil painting when it has begun to craquelure?

  • You might want to do more research on how people restore old paintings from The Old Masters, and such. Most of those paintings are cracked and they are able to repair them without having to retouch them. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:46
  • 1
    "oil paint with linseed oil or something equivalent (turpentine is a cheap solution)" You are right about fat over thin... but wrong about this. Turpentine and other solvents are thin, where linseed and other oils are fat (literally).
    – rebusB
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 13:50
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    Another solution: leave the cracks and pass it off as a newly discovered work of an old master. The cracks add character. :-)
    – fixer1234
    Commented Nov 3, 2019 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


As far as I know, in restoration craquelure will often be 'fixed' by concealing it.
After applying a layer of varnish to facilitate the removal of retouches like these, the cracks will simply be painted over with corresponding colours.

Of course, this is usually done with older paintings, that no longer heavily react to both inherent and external factors, but even if the craquelure shows up again, using this procedure the retouches can be removed and the process repeated.

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