Product Care: Originals

Product Care - Originals

Caring for your Original Painting

About Your Original: Original paintings are not only valued monetarily. They will be appreciated by future generations as well as those who view them today. Oil paints have been around for over 500 years and as any museum goer knows, we are still enjoying paintings of that antiquity. Acrylic paints are about 70 years old, and though we do not have the test of time, scientists suspect they may fare just as well, if not better in certain aspects like cracking.

My paintings are mostly done on heavy-gauge cotton canvas stretched over a wooden frame, but occasionally they are on board. The surface has one or more priming and preparation layers before I apply the paints. In the case of acrylics, once the painting is completed and signed, sometimes a matte or satin varnish has been applied to protect the paint surface from dust and dirt. In the case of oils, one must wait six months to apply varnish, so depending on this and other variables, your painting may or may not be vanished. Please contact me to find out if your painting has been varnished as you may wish to have it professionally done if it is not.

Lighting: Avoid hanging your artwork in direct sunlight or under fluorescent lighting as both emit UV rays which can cause fading or discoloration over time. Best is to hang in indirect sunlight or use LED or halogen lighting.

Avoiding Damage: When storing or transferring, take care to protect the canvas surfaces from becoming dinged or dented. Do not allow any rigid object to contact the front or back surface of the stretched canvas as this could create permanent indentation damage. Also avoid leaning the canvas against walls in areas where there is wind or draft, as canvasses are light and can fall over, potentially denting or ripping the canvas. Avoid touching both the paint surface and the back of the canvas. Do not apply any kind of pressure (even finger pressure) to the back of a canvas as mobility in the paint backing can cause the paint to crack over time in that area.  

If your canvas painting does get slightly stretched or dented in an area, spraying a mist of water on the problem area on the back/unpainted side of the canvas causes the canvas to shrink as the water dries, and this can sometimes pull out slight indentations. It depends on how severe the indentation is. If unsure about doing this yourself, have a professional do it. In the event the canvas gets ripped in an accident, don’t despair immediately as it might be able to be fixed by a professional.

It is best to avoid hanging artwork above a heat source such as fireplaces. In addition to the damage caused by radiating heat, dirt that rises with the heat may cause damage. Similarly, avoid placement in a moist environment such as a room with bath or shower. Rapid environmental fluctuations will be harmful to the painting.

Cleaning: Do not attempt to clean the surface of your original artwork using solvents or cleaning products of any kind. Cleaning liquids may actually embed dirt into the painting and cause permanent liquid lines over the surface. In fact, it is discouraged to use any liquid, including water, to clean the surface of your painting. Never use dry or moist dust cloths, stiff bristle brushes or feather dusters to clean a painting as threads can catch on areas of raised paint and dusters can scratch the painting. Avoid spraying any fresheners, furniture polish, etc., near or directly onto a painting.

Best cleaning method is to use canned compressed air to blow away surface dust. Another technique involves using a dry soft sable brush to lightly brush the surface in order to dislodge dust while holding a vacuum, off the surface, to capture and remove debris. Another method for spot cleaning is to use a Q-tip moistened with saliva to gently rub away dirt that won’t come off otherwise. Be careful not to bump or scratch the painting while cleaning it. If your artwork is quite dirty, consult a professional art curator, such as your professional art framer as to best solutions.

Mold: The back of a canvas should be checked every year or two for mold. Should your painting get black or white spots of mold on the back of the canvas, or more rarely a thin whitish-grey film of mold on the front, consult your professional framer as to how to best clean it.