What the hell happened to that thing!

This was an interesting project. A friend of mine had recently come back from Nigeria and purchased several local artist paintings. They were done in acrylic and arrived rolled up.

Him: Think you can fix these? I unrolled them and they started flaking apart. I got them for my Moms.
Me: ...Yipes, they look like they been in the gullet of Sarlacc! Didn't know he was in Nigeria too. Him:  #$% you.  Can you do it.
Me: Jeez, I'd say only a masterful painting genius could fix this yes.(I am humble only when its funny- rarely)
Him: These mean a lot to me, don't @#$% around.
Me: Don't worry, done this many-a-time, they are in good hands. (I had never done anything like this...seriously how hard could it be?)


Him: You da man, maestro!
Me:Yeah, you know this is gonna cost ya. (...gonna cost me if'n I screw these up...eesh.)

Ok so onto the task at hand:

After carefully unrolling them... which was like unrolling the dead sea scrolls. Think teeny tiny bits of paint flecks falling everywhere. My highly trained and detailed forensic analysis was...HOLY CRAP! These ARE partially digested!

I mean look at the state of this one (which was by and far the worst):

Here's a detail of the nightmare I had gotten myself involved with!

Trying to figure out how to repair this mess, the probable cause began to manifest itself.  The paint was applied in a very thin layer, probably to conserve pigment. So lots of water was used to extend the paint and probably speed drying time.  This is never a good idea as this greatly reduces the effectiveness of the binding agent in the paint, um...probably.

Also, he had mentioned to me that the painting was  rolled up and placed in the luggage compartment of the plane. So coming home it was exposed to some pretty cold temps as I am pretty sure that part of the plane is SIGNIFICANTLY colder than the temperature controlled passenger cabin. Combine that with the ambient air temp of Nigeria, what you get is thermal expansion/contraction that will shatter the paint surface bond. Wow, I sound like I know what I'm talking about here:)

Luckily the painting style was easy to replicate - quick broad strokes and solid colors made that part an easy match.  Picking the paint flecks off my rug and using gel medium to glue them back into place is something like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, only much less fun.

After filling in the dead parts(flecks lost in transportation or eaten by my rug) with pigment/medium blend (what kind?, its proprietary and none of your business). I repainted the surface to match the original but upped the color vibrancy.  Then sealed the beast with heavy lashings of gloss gel medium...this thing is now bomb-proof! (well not really- but it can now laugh at airplane cargo storage compartments) I did manage to take a couple of liberties with the foreground, both he and I agree it looks better than the messy cloud from before.

He was ecstatic and I would say that it was all worth just the look on his face. But I'd be was worth the money and some of his wifes' hot sauce...which is soo damn hot it makes me weep! If you got anymore paintings to save brother, you know to call...bring more hot sauce I'm almost out!