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I have an old large 1960's painting that has an unfinished part of a tree-top not painted. I'm thinking of finishing the tree-top. The elderly woman who was painting it passed away suddenly in the 1960s. Her family, after storing it away for several years, decided to donate it to a second hand store in 2007. I walked in one day, saw it and purchased it for $1.75 (it's unbelievable). Anyway, she used a lot of yellow tones, brown, gold, blue and green colors (I guess that goes without saying since it's a nature painting). It is a soft, stunning, detailed painting of trees along a moving creek. I think she favored the Impressionist's era style of painting because her brush strokes resemble the technique used.
My young 18 year old nephew who just started art school told me that years ago they used different types of paints than we use today and he wasn't so certain I could finish the painting without comprising the colors and originality. I can't imagine our paints have changed that much from the 1960's? From the 1700s and 1800's of course, but the 1960's? As artists on this site, I would appreciate your feedback.
Half my business lately has been restoring antique paintings. You can go to my web site and see how one repairs a rip/tear. First, though, have you checked on AskArt.com to see if she's a "listed" artist. If she is... take it to a pro like me.
If not, hummn,....1960's? Well for one, acryllics that were not easily available nor really affordable for the hobbyist, and Bob Ross's pigment mixture wasn't sold on TV, so.... and Oils were just that - oil based..... not water based as some are today. You'll first want to de-frame it.
If it's an oil, odds are that it was done with grumbacher oils... which were mass produced in Pennsylvania (60s-70s) I believe. Just make sure you first use some turpentine to remove the old varnish covering that area you're going to paint. The turp will also dissolve grime.
Since the painting has very little in the way of provenance, or "auctionable value" and you just want it for yourself, go ahead, finish it. Only you and very few others will even know. One suggestion, after you finish the addition, varnish the whole thing again, and let it sit flat for a couple of months and then put it back in the frame.