Painting Out Of Murals – Cleaning off the Overpaint – Art Conservation

The removal process, you can see from the last post, we’re talking about involves the cleaning off the overpaint from the murals that were painted out. This is more than just a cleaning issue: the art conservation and mural restoration of these two paintings will involve removing the overpaint, removing the spackling the painters used to even out the wall (Tacky looking! They didn’t even try to match the texture of the wall), addressing the flaking paint (consolidation and stabilizing it) that was covered over by the paint, properly filling and inpainting losses and then the final protective varnish layers.

I was planning on getting back to this blog the next day after I started the testing of the cleaning of the mural… but here it is several days later. The committee overseeing the survey asked me to add a couple of details to my reports that kept me busier than I had planned.

Tests to restore painted out murals

Testing for removal of overpaint from historic murals

The tests showed me that dissolving off the paint is not possible because the original painting/mural, which was done in acrylic, will dissolve in the process. Also, the texture of the wall complicates the issue of removing the overpaint evenly. Here’s a note for all you mural painters out there: If this mural had been painted in oil and been varnished, cleaning off the overpaint would be MUCH easier (they always paint out murals with acrylic paint) and the mural would be much more easily restored. The technique for overpaint removal will have to be a variation of the technique of swelling the paint then peeling it off. The tests confirmed that this can be done so we are proposing to move forward with the restoration of the murals by Harvey Johnson that were painted out. There are some logistics issues that we also have to consider: using smelly material in the busiest building on campus in the are of the main entrance, working on scaffolding.

So, there you go. The latest scoop on the famous Harvey Johnson murals at TSU. If this project gets scheduled, you’ll be the first to know if you stay plugged into the updates of this blog (click on the RSS button at the top of the page).

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Harvey Johnson Murals Were Overpainted

Murals? What murals?

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Testing the Removal of Overpaint from Murals by Harvey Johnson

I knew that the paint used for Harvey Johnson’s murals was probably acrylic but I wasn’t sure what the original artwork was painted with. It took about 5 minutes to quickly figure out that it too was done in acrylic… about 45 years ago.  Also, I quickly discovered that as I rub with a solvent that dissolves the top layer of paint… I’ll dissolve the original paint too. That’s not good.

Then I tried a citris product that swells the overpaint and I can peel it off like taking skin off of a sunburn! Anyone need a job? I started out with a couple of  2″ x 2″ squares but I’m going to clean off a spot about 12″ x 12″ just to get a good look tomorrow.

TSU has some great paintings an I am really enjoying my week here. This is Scott Haskins, over and out… till tomorrow.

Murals at TSU

A detail of a mural at Texas Southern University.

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Cleaning Off Overpaint From Harvey Johnson Murals Similar To Work At Fair Park

New video compares same problem at Fair Park, Dallas

Media: Contact Scott Haskins at 805 570 4140 (see Museum Wax info for how to protect collections at home and business)

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Johnson murals destroyed at TSU

There has been a lot of public interest in the168  murals at Texas Southern University (TSU) since the mural my Harvey Johnson was painted out. Here’s an article about it…

Monique Y. Wells Johnson murals destroyed at TSU – by order of the University’s president

I am going to write to the president to express my astonishment and distaste regarding his attitude toward the historical and artistic legacy of TSU.  I encourage all of you to do the same! (But before you do, see following post with President’s letter – Scott)


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