Protecting your art-works is quite easy and it will ensure you many years of pleasure from the paintings you have acquired. There are many kinds of paintings, but we will focus on two main categories:
1. Oil or acrylic works on canvas.
2. Works on paper.
Framing is a most important factor in caring for art-work, and is well worth the investment.
There are a few rules that should be followed:
Works on canvas:
Works on canvas must always be framed without glass and the canvas must be stretched properly on the supporting frame, to minimize fluctuation of the canvas, as a result of changes in temperature and humidity. These are factors that might cause shrinking and expansion of the paint layer, that will result in cracks in the paint.
Works on paper:
Paper-work must always be framed under glass to protect the paper, but without contact between the two. A carton mount surrounding the art-work will protect it. The mount and the back should always be acid-free carton.
Valuable works on paper should preferably be framed with polycarbonate – a perspex sheet with UV filters- instead of glass. This will prevent fading.
Ask your framer to use acid-free tapes that will not stain your art-work.
When hanging paintings, one must keep in mind two major enemies; direct light and humidity. These factors considered, here are a few guidelines:
1. Paintings must not be cleaned with water or any other cleaning materials.
2. Paintings on canvas may be lightly brushed with a feather duster to remove dust.
3. Paintings should be removed from the wall twice a year and the back of the painting should be examined. Paintings on canvas should be turned upside down and given a gentle shake to remove dust.
4. Frames should be examined regularly for wood-worm.
When does a painting need professional treatment?
1. If prominent cracks appear in the paint layer.
2. If paint lifts from the canvas.
3. If yellow spots appear on the surface or back of your paper-work – this is a sign of fungi that must be removed.
Remark: As these spots usually appear first on the back of the paper, it is most important to examine the back of your paintings regularly.
4. If waves or bumps appear in the canvas – this is a sign that your painting needs re-stretching.
5. If there is a general change of tone of your painting – paintings covered with varnish tend to turn yellowish or brown over the years, sometimes to the extent that some details of the painting disappear.
6. If your painting has been exposed to water – preferably while it is still wet.
If you have paintings that are not hanging, temporarily, they should be stored in appropriate conditions. The climatic conditions in which the paintings are stored should not be dramatically different from those where the paintings will eventually be hung. The transition between a cold, damp basement or a hot attic to a climatized room could be disastrous.
The guideline for storing is airflow.
1. Stored paintings should be raised off the floor to allow air-flow and to protect them from water damage.
2. Stored paintings should be covered with cotton sheets and not polythene that may cause mould.
3. Carton or ply dividers should be inserted between the paintings to avoid pressure.
4. Choose interior walls rather than exterior walls for stacking your stored paintings. They are drier.
5. If you are storing paintings for a long period, then we would advise you to examine them periodically, to dust them and change the protecting covers. Sachets of silica gel will help protect your paintings from humidity.