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Itching to Fix That Scratch? Here’s How!

Text and photos by Jennifer Danza

John Henry’s scratched muzzle
John Henry's scratched muzzle


The bad news is that scratches and rubs happen to the most beautiful and beloved models. The good news is that they can be repaired! These areas of imperfection can be corrected using a variety of mediums. I have tried them all and have found oils to be the easiest medium to use.

Many people avoid oils for a variety of reasons such as: they take a long time to dry, are messy, and are hard to blend. But for fixing a model horse, oil paints have a richness and subtlety that works well when trying to cover scratches. You'll get perfect results with the following glazing technique.

Prep your surface

No matter how young or old your model, begin by cleaning the scratched area with rubbing alcohol. Let it dry.

Select your color

When choosing oil colors it is wise to keep a variety of horse colors on hand for quick touch ups. The best way to pick the correct color for your touch up is to uncap the tube of oil paint, squeeze a tiny bit out and hold it next to the horse in natural lighting. This John Henry model is a dark bay so I chose a regular bay color (Burnt Sienna) and added a darker brown (Burnt Umber) to the mix.

Squeeze out oils on a paper palette for easy clean up
Squeeze out oils on a paper palette for easy clean up

 

Mixing and application

When mixing oils, keep your brushes clean. I use the oil paint straight from the tube without extenders like linseed oil.

Squeeze the colors you'll be using out on a paper plate or similar palette. Dip your brush into turpentine (I use either Distilled English Turperntine or Turpinoid®) to get the brush slick. Blot any excess turpentine from the brush onto a dry paper towel and load up the brush with your oil color.

Load up a water color brush with oils
Load up a water color brush with oils

 

After the brush has been loaded, blot it on a dry paper towel to take off any excess oils.

Blot excess oils from brush
Blot excess oils from brush

 

Another blotting method is to make wispy marks on a blank sheet of paper. This helps to take off the excess oils from the brush.

:  Another method of blotting by swiping the brush on paper
Another method of blotting by swiping the brush on paper

 

The blotting helps to keep the application of the oils light and almost glaze -like. After this blotting gently apply the color to the scratch. The first coat will cover, but only slightly.

Patience

The hardest part about painting with oils is having patience. After the first layer of glaze is applied, the next step is to wait for that layer to dry. The first layer, because of the blotting, will probably take a day to try.

Brush oils on scratch
Brush oils on scratch

 

As soon as the first glazed layer is dry, apply another layer of your oil color in the "glaze-blot" fashion.

Apply a second coat
Apply a second coat

 

This John Henry needed three layers of oil to cover the scratch.

Third coat of oils completely covered this scratch
Third coat of oils completely covered this scratch

 

Keep building the glazed color till the scratch disappears. If the area around the scratch gets too much paint on it, just wipe off any extra. That is the beauty of oils. You have time to remove any color you don't like or need in an area well before it dries.

When you are finished just clean up your brush in turpentine and you're done. It's as simple as that!

Newly repaired John Henry model
Newly repaired John Henry model


HOT TIP: Try applying your oils with a watercolor brush. Watercolor brushes keep application very smooth and supple.

List of colors to keep on hand in your workbench: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Naples Yellow, Mars Black, Davy's Grey, Indian Yellow, and Indian Red. With these, you'll always have the perfect color at your fingertips!


To learn more about Jennifer Danza and her artwork, please visit www.jenndanza.com!

 

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