Caring for Your Artworks - Advice from an Artist

Do you collect art but have no idea how to care for it? Maybe you inherited a few pieces that have been collecting dust and you would like to revive them but you're at a bit of a loss as to how?

Or perhaps you some artworks you need to store away...

Here are a few tips that I use in my own Art studio that you may find helpful.....

Transportation

•    Do not carry a painting by the top of the frame. Carry with one hand underneath, the other at the side to support the structure. Frames can be quite fragile, especially the glass. 

I  used to work for a framer and I soon learnt how easy it is to 'pop' the glass. Any bumps, twists or pressure on the glass can be enough to crack it.

•    To transport, put in a plastic bag, then wrap with padding for protection (blanket or towel). Plastic first because fibers and lint from fabric can stick to varnish.

When an artwork leaves my studio it is always wrapped first in tissue paper then in a good layer of bubble wrap.

DO NOT store in the plastic or bubble wrap as it will leave an imprint on the surface if left for extended periods.

•    Do not leave in a hot car, especially in the boot. Varnish can bubble in heat.

•    Do not place anything on surface of painting. This can leave indents in the canvas; especially stretched canvas. 

(NB: See below at end of the blog for a tip on removing dents from canvas).

When you get the painting home

•     After unwrapping your artwork and then resting it on a floor, avoid abrasive surfaces.

•    Also, if the wrapping has sticky tape of any kind on it, be very careful that it doesn't touch the frame of the painting. 

I've had some terrible moments in the studio where sticky tape has touched the frame and removed completely the silver/gold leaf. I've also had artworks returned from exhibitions with this type of damage.

It can't be repaired and frames are expensive to replace.

•    It's easy to place a painting on the floor without giving it much thought as to what it's resting on or against. Frames can be easily scratched and impossible to touch up.

•    Don’t hang in excessively cold or damp locations. Bathrooms are somewhere I would never recommend hanging an artwork. Mold can be a real problem, not just in bathrooms but also in humid and damp climates.

In my studio I have several tubs of 'damp-rid' place around the room. It's great for absorbing extra moisture cause by humidity. (You can find similar products at hardware stores and supermarkets).

•    In the case of a painting on canvas, be careful not to lean the painting against anything sharp (corner of table, chair, etc.) that could cause denting, stretching or tearing of canvas fibers.

•    Do not hang over a direct heat source – radiators, vents or too near fireplace, smoke, ashes and heat damage artwork.

•    Try not to touch surface of painting - oil marks from fingers are sometimes difficult to remove. My artworks have an isolation coat applied before varnish, and then 3-4 more layers of water based varnish on top of the isolation layer. 

I know they are well protected, so I generally don't mind people touching the surface of my paintings.

Cleaning Artworks

The key here is to be as gentle and as non-abrasive as possible.

•    Never put water on the surface of any painting.

•     Microfibre cloths are great for this type of cleaning job and will remove most dust and dirt. If necessary, dust with a clean, dry soft brush.

•    When cleaning a glass-covered picture, do not spray directly on to the glass – spray the dust cloth and then clean the glass. 

Once again, microfibre cloths, especially for glass are best for this job. 

Remember, be gentle! You don't want to crack that glass!

Hanging your Artworks

•    Hang artwork at eye-level – about 6’6” from the floor to the top of the piece. The average height person will then look up at the work.

•    If you have several pieces to hang in one area then try laying them out on the floor. Try different arrangements till it 'feels right'.

•    If you need to put several hooks on the wall in one area then first lay the paintings on a large sheet of butcher's paper.

Trace around the artworks and use this as a wall template to accurately mark the positions for the hooks. If you need any further advice on the hanging or storage of your artwork please don’t hesitate to contact me.

NB: One last tip; If your artwork on stretched canvas has an indentation in the surface; (perhaps something was accidentally lent against it), use a water spritzer on the BACK of the canvas right where the indentation is. Spray this area with clean water, but don't soak the canvas.

Allow to dry naturally. Do not place near a heater or in the sun!

I have used this method on several occasions with success.

(*While all due care is taken in compiling this information, the artist will not be held responsible for misuse of the advice. Artworks are valuable and need to be treated with care).

If you are in doubt about cleaning or fixing an artwork then I would strongly recommend that you take it to a reliable Art Framer or Restorer.

Well, thank you for reading and I hope the information was helpful, Ciao for now,

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Studio Atelier|  Gold Coast, QLD  Australia|

Mob: +61(0)411 197 254 |Em: olivia@oliviaalexanderart.com