How to Take Care of Painting? Maintenance methods

Posted by Robert Lange on

As art lovers, we cherish the beauty and emotions captured on canvas. But in the past, many had to learn from their own mistakes that every painting requires care to ensure it continues to inspire us for generations to come. In this article, we want to delve into the topic of art preservation to show you how to conserve paintings. With these methods, you'll easily safeguard your paintings and keep them vibrant for years to follow. 

How to Take Care of Painting? Create a Proper Environment for Your Art

Let's start witht the localization, as it's a part of painting conservation people tend to forget about.

Humidity and Temperature

You probably have heard before that museums have very high and strict standards for humidity and temperature, and even paintings' exposure to light has a huge impact on the condition of every art piece. The British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers recommends that:

paintings should be displayed at temperatures between 18 and 24°C. (...) As a guide, museums recommend that RH be maintained between 40 and 60% with no more than 10% variance in any 24-hour period. (Source)

RH in the quote above stands for Relative Humidity. Sudden fluctuations in RH cause damage: they may cause cracks or splits, as well as deformation of canvas supports. Dirt will get absorbed in soft paint layers. But not only fluctuations are risky: the prolonged high humidity (over 70%) may lead to mold growth, which is very dangerous.

Remember: Extreme temperatures and fluctuations in humidity can cause cracks in the paint and warping of the canvas. Ideally, aim for a consistent temperature range of 68-72°F (20-22°C) and a relative humidity of 45-55%. Invest in a hygrometer to monitor these levels and consider a humidifier or dehumidifier if needed.

Light Matters

Did you know that direct sunlight is also a nemesis to artwork? UV rays accelerate fading, so avoid hanging paintings in areas with prolonged sun exposure. Opt for north-facing walls or utilize UV-filtering curtains.

But that's not the only thing: get rid of the incandescent bulbs if you can. The heat emitted by traditional incandescent bulbs can damage artwork. Instead, opt for LED lights with a warm color temperature that are specifically designed for art illumination. These bulbs emit minimal heat and UV rays.

Additionally, while necessary for viewing, prolonged exposure to even artificial light can contribute to fading. Limit the amount of time your paintings are on display, especially for valuable or light-sensitive works.

You can read more about this topic here: Illuminating Your Art: A Guide to Picture Lighting Techniques.

Avoid the Pollution

Airborne dust, smoke, and pollutants can accumulate on the painting surface, dulling the colors and potentially causing chemical reactions. Minimize pollutants by keeping the environment clean, using air purifiers, and avoiding smoking near the artwork.

Framing With Finesse

A well-made frame enhances the beauty of your painting and protects it. Choose frames made from acid-free and lignin-free materials to prevent the frame from reacting with the artwork and causing deterioration. We highly recommend using a museum-quality glass or acrylic framing option that filters out UV rays. This provides an extra layer of protection against light damage. Over time, you'll see a difference.

Illusionary- 24" x 30" oil on panel - Robert Lange

How to Conserve Paintings? Regular Cleaning

As we've mentioned before, prevention is key. Regular dusting with a soft, non-abrasive microfiber cloth is the cornerstone of maintaining a clean painting. Dusting prevents the buildup of dirt and grime, which can be more challenging to remove later.

But keep in mind that less is more: avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaning solutions on your paintings. Even mild soap can be detrimental. If necessary, consult a professional conservator for cleaning recommendations specific to your artwork! If you have bought a painting from us, you can always ask for additional cleaning tips based on its specifics. The medium used, and even the technique might be of importance.

Remember! Do not touch the painted surface directly with your hands. The oils on your skin can damage the paint over time. When transporting or handling your artwork, always wear clean gloves to avoid transferring oils from your skin.

Professional Intervention Needed?

Regular professional inspections can identify potential problems early on, allowing for timely intervention and minimizing future damage. For valuable or older paintings, consulting a professional art conservator is highly recommended. Professional conservators have the knowledge and expertise to assess the condition of your artwork, recommend appropriate conservation treatments, and address any existing damage. If you're not sure what to do, don't try conservating the paintings yourself unless you're willing to risk your painting's condition getting worse.

Additional Tip: Maintain detailed records of your artwork, including the artist, date, medium, and any conservation treatments performed. This information will be valuable for future care and valuation.

With proper care and attention, your art collection can continue to be a source of inspiration for years to come! Keep the colors vibrant and the canvas clean – and if you need any help, don't hesitate to ask. 

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