5 Tips for Caring for Your Oil Painting
Oil paintings are one of those brilliant luxury items that truly bring joy to all those who own them. If you are lucky enough to have oil paintings in your home or work space , you obviously want them to retain their brightness, beauty and life. Yes I see them as living things:)
Tip 1. Varnish
If the painting has been painted properly with the correct use and amount of linseed oil, turpentine and mediums (added to speed up drying time and increase transparency and shine) varnish would only be needed to
a) Bring the surface of the painting to a uniform gloss level (matt or glossy). This is one of my main reasons for varnishing as some colours are matt while others more glossy.
b) Protection from dust and other atmospheric impurities
Oil paint often takes quite a long time to dry (depending on the thickness of the paint, some take decades!). For a smooth painting that's made up of many thin layers of paint (like many of mine) I recommend waiting at least 6 months before varnishing them. I offer this service free of charge for my collectors.
Tip 2. Placement
You have just bought an amazing painting, it reflects who you are and what you love and you want it to be displayed in the best area of your house. Please take care though! Where you place your work of art affects it tremendously! Think of your painting as a living thing.
Of course you want to place your painting in a room that has lots of light so it can be seen but NEVER place it in direct sunlight, or near bright overhead lights as this can be extremely damaging to an oil painting and cause flaking and fading of the pigments.
Do not hang your original oil painting above heaters or radiators etc. and make sure the room it is in isn't fluctuating in temperature too much as this can cause warping of the wooden frame and damage to the paint.
Take care that the wall you are hanging your painting on is completely free from moisture (I think more of a problem for those in the rainy uk!). Also open fires and cigarette smoke will eventually lead to damage and layers of dirt forming on the surface of your painting. It's best to place an original oil painting in a non smoking room but if that's not possible make sure it's varnished if you smoke in the same room!
Place your paintings away from shelves and doors or any other areas where it might be brushed up against or knocked. For a more detailed guide on room temperature and light see Henry Fords article on care and preservation here
Tip 3. Cleaning
You shouldn't need to clean the painting very often and only do it when necessary to avoid unnecessary contact. A large soft varnishing brush can be used to gently brush the dust from the surface.
Avoid feather dusters or sheep skin cloths as even though they are soft, they can still catch. If the painting has not been varnished and is very dirty, take it to a professional or do your research before using solvents etc on the painting.
Tip 4. Hanging
I usually release my painting to the new owners ready to hang. Because I stretch them over tough, thick wooden frames, its not necessary to attach hanging hooks and wire to the back of the painting. Instead, strong nails should be drilled into the wall, two for either side of the painting for the best support (some measuring will be involved!).
Two nails ensures the stability of the painting on the wall. I find this is the best way to hang large or even small paintings.
Tip 5. Handling
I've read that the greatest amount of damaged caused to artifacts including paintings is caused by careless handling. It sounds obvious but only move your painting around if its necessary. Before moving the painting remove all your jewellery , belt buckles etc.
Sounds silly right? I have actually scratched the surface of one of my completed paintings with my belt buckle so I can assure you it happens! Just don't drop your pants in the process:). Take hold of the painting from both vertical sides and NOT from the frame or hanging wire. Avoid bumping the canvas in any way, even the slightest bump can cause cracking and damage to the paints surface.
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I still care very much for the my pieces even once they have passed hands. Any questions regarding my work are most welcome. A painting is like a piece of the artist and should be respected as such. If you decide to sell the painting or give it to someone, please contact the artist to let them know.
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Free varnishing service to my collectors; contact me via the contact page to get in touch!:)