Don’t Toss Me Yet! 5 Tips for Salvaging a Less Than Perfect Pour

We’ve all been there…looking at a painting you poured last night and now that it’s dried you’re thinking, Yikes! I’ve seen so many beautiful saves by amazing artists on, most of the time it’s extremely intimidating to me.

I’ll occasionally use the silhouette strategy, but even with that, I can screw up what should be clean lines, which may ruin my painting. It just takes practice, and I’m still working on it since I have a hard time keeping my hands from shaking when I do detailed work. Not sure if practice will ever completely get me through that process, but I definitely keep pushing forward.

You see I can’t draw, much less paint in such creative detail to save my flawed or boring dried paintings—so I had to come up with other ideas. So, what can you do to save a pour if you’re not the most accomplished artist? Below are some strategies I use.

Add Negative Space

If there’s a problem area on the side or end of a dried painting, you may be able to fix it with negative space. If you’re lucky, you can do one with a hard edge. Simply put, this means you can put a piece of painters tape on a dried painting to create a hard line for your negative space. You can also do a poured negative space onto a dried painting, but I’d practice first to see what types of lines you get.

Master the Art of the Re-Pour

Yes, I re-pour sometimes, but when I first started, a re-pour on just part of a dried painting was tragic. It never looked right. There was always a hard line even if I tried to blow it out or manipulate it in any way.

Here you can see a picture of collected dried paints under my painting space, just run off from actual projects. I’m adding it here because it demonstrates the hard line a second pour can make.

Hard Lines paint

I struggled to find a way to create the gentle blending of paints and curves that we love in an original pour. By accident, I figured out a way to create a more natural look when adding a new partial pour or negative space to a dried painting:

I start with a layer of Liquitex Varnish, and while still wet I add colors one by one or simply pour my mixed cup of paints. Try it; I promise it works! Here are three (close-up) views of dried paintings I used this technique on.

No Manipulation paint

The above is with no manipulation at all, just a pour. The second (below) has some minor manipulation. And for the last (also below), I used the straw to blow out some fraying over the turquoise. You can use any varnish, I just prefer Liquitex.

Minor Manipulation paint
Blow Out paint

Use It as a Practice Canvas

So what about the worst of the worst, those downright ugly paintings you positively can’t save no matter what you do to them? Don’t toss them yet! You can use the front for experimenting with swipes, string pulls, tree rings, etc. Go crazy! You can even use the back of an old painting to practice on; hey, it’s still a canvas.

Frame It, Baby!

Now, I occasionally have a painting with an area on the side that I can’t touch up without a re-pour, or one where I’m not quite sure if I want to keep, repaint, or toss it. There is one technique I’ve found that has kept me from tossing many works and given me countless ideas for additional uses.

Side Flaw paint

My solution? Frame it baby! My Black Into Blue painting has way too many flaws on the sides, so I decided to try out a frame. Same with the gold floral painting—a frame makes all the difference. Try out any frames you have around the house. Even if they’re not the right size, you can lay them over the painting to see what it might look like.

Black into Blue Orig paint
Gold Floral Orig paint

What if you’ve tried some frames you have lying around, yet nothing looks right? Or what if you still can’t make up your mind whether to keep or toss your painting? Maybe it’s not the painting; maybe it’s the frames. Here are four sample frames for the above paintings to give you an idea what I’m talking about.


When you have a minute, please check one of my favourite online galleries, Gallerima, where inspiration meets affordable price. Check it out Here!


Black into Blue A
Black into Blue B
Black into Blue C
Black into Blue D
Gold Floral E
Gold Floral F
Gold Floral G
Gold Floral H

Also…There’s an App for That!

Here’s one final tip that can save your painting, your time, and potentially your money. I’m a pushover to sales staff since I don’t like to say no, so I can’t go into a professional frame store to “just try out ideas.” I’ll end up purchasing something I may not want or even like.

Instead I use an application I downloaded for free from Google Play on my Samsung Tablet called HD Photo Frame. You can upload photos of your own paintings and try out a variety of frames. The only problem with this app is you can only use it for rectangular paintings; other forms like round, oval, and square won’t fit into the frames the same way.

This app saves me time from having to run around trying to find the perfect frame, or purchasing something I may not be able to use.

Try it out and see. You’ll look at your paintings differently.

12 thoughts on “Don’t Toss Me Yet! 5 Tips for Salvaging a Less Than Perfect Pour”

  1. Terri L Brannon

    I did not find any of the frames that you used as examples on the app. Did I miss something?

    1. Tina Swearingen

      Terri, At the bottom of the frame page, there are two other additional frame galleries called Luxury and Old. When you click on them, you just have to watch a 30 second video and then it opens up that frame collection as well.

    1. Tina Swearingen

      Joyce, the deeper the canvas the more difficult it can be. As for me, if it’s over 1/2 inch deep I won’t attempt to frame it. It can be done but you may need to visit a frame shop to have them show you. I did have a 1.5 inch professionally framed, which was expensive. They created a layered look with 3 separate frames and the final product was about 3 inches deep. Very cool effect, but also really expensive unless you can do it yourself. I’m learning how to do it, and once I have it down I’ll share that process as well. I don’t paint on any canvas over 1/2 inch, for just this reason. I just prefer to have options if at first I don’t succeed. Hahaha

  2. Joe Ann Nassida

    The best places to buy frames —- goodwill, flea markets, garage sales, dollars tree (those set up, you might have to reinforce the back 4-6, 5-7 8-10inch boards)
    You may half to touch up frames if scratched.

  3. Melody Aldrich

    Do you have a video of your method for using varnish? I think that technique may help with a 30×40 inch Dutch pour I just did. Most of it is beautiful, but I have a couple of areas that really need to be fixed.

  4. Hi Tina,

    I’m still unclear on the varnish touch-up method, although I’d really like to try it. If you don’t have a video of the process, could you break it down step by step? I can see that another commenter would also like an extra lesson!


  5. Hi– for anyone who has tried the varnish trick, do you put the varnish on the entire pour or only the part you want to re-pour?

  6. Margarete Brandenburg

    I’ve tried a redo on dried paint canvas using floetrol on there first. Works well as it disappears. will try the varnish idea next time

  7. I have bought some catalyst wedges with which I make a new painting over a fail. A new pour over an old one often results in cracking but with a wedge you can apply the paint very thinly in transparent layers allowing, if you like, the failed pour to show through making for an interesting painting. Or you can totally cover the failed pour with several thin layers using the wedge to “paint” with.
    No cracking will occur.

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