Purchasing a piece of art comes with a great feeling, but most find themselves stumped when faced with ensuring its lifespan once it makes it to their home. It’s important to think about how certain factors will affect the state of your artwork, be it painting, print or porcelain. Whether you’re buying inexpensive artworks as a quick fix to fill your walls or artworks with the intention of investment, educating yourself about how to care for, clean and store your artworks is one of the wisest things you will ever do.
Here at The Artling Artzine, we’ve compiled these tips to help you make sure your collection remains in perfect condition for its many years ahead in your home.
When handling paintings, wear a clean pair of lightweight gloves. Whilst your hands might look clean to the naked eye, oils from your skin might transfer onto your artwork causing stains and damage to canvases.
When moving an artwork to a different location, carry both sides of the frame so as to ensure that its weight is evenly distributed during its relocation. Never lean a canvas against anything that isn’t a flat surface as it might stretch it. Always lean it against a wall or on a table.
This applies to anything you’d like to hang. Consider the weight of the work and take its frame, if applicable, into account. Additionally, take the strength of the wall into account and make sure you have chosen a wall that can support the weight of your artwork.
The ideal setup is for two eye hooks to be mounted onto the back of a frame, linked with sturdy wire. It allows you to keep the painting straight without having to be precise about nail or screw placements on the wall.
Heavy works need a little more preparation to ensure security on a wall. They should be hung from wood studs behind drywall or plaster with more than one anchor point to ensure that its weight is evenly distributed.
Take special care of your artwork’s placement and keep them out of reach of children and pets. Whilst this might seem like simple advice, it is important to keep them away from wagging tails and little hands. Not only would a fallen damage cause damage to itself, but it would also cause injury to the little ones.
Regardless of whether you’re leaving an artwork to hang in your living room or storing it away, it is important to keep an artwork away from extreme temperatures. Art experts recommend keeping artworks between 21 - 24 degree Celsius. Keep your artwork away from spaces that might experience ongoing fluctuations in temperatures, moisture, and humidity, as they go hand in hand and will all be harmful to your works.
Always avoid spaces with direct sunlight, and consider the ceiling lights you are using as the heat they produce might also cause damage to your work over time. If using high wattage lights, make sure there is a fair amount of distance between them and your artwork.
Avoid placing your artwork close to cooling or heating units such as air conditioning units, radiators, fireplaces, and air vents.
Paintings should be dusted a few times a year, subject to where they are placed, and what sort of setting they’re in. It’s important to check for any signs of deterioration whilst you dust and keep an eye out for flaking paint. If flaking paint is present, do not dust the artwork!
To ensure extra safety, wear gloves as you’re doing this. If the artwork is on a wall, take it off and place it against a wall at an angle before dusting it so as to ensure that it doesn’t fall off.
You may use a dry cloth or a clean soft painter’s brush to dust your artworks, be it painting or sculpture. However, make a note to avoid feathers dusters as their fibers may latch onto canvases and the edges that paint leaves on an artwork.
Consider framing your artwork under glass. This adds a sturdy layer of protection and also simplifies all future cleaning processes. However, do keep in mind that paintings that are framed under glass are vulnerable to damp and mold due to moisture accumulation from reduced airflow.
Works on paper are probably the most susceptible to damp. For canvases, signs of damp will first be noticed on the back of the canvas. Discoloration and distinctive brown marks can appear after periods of time due to the climate the artwork has been in. Once again, if this artwork means something to you, consider getting it cleaned or restored professionally to ensure its lifespan.
Many cleaning products will permanently damage your artworks; Even water has the capacity to deteriorate works. Many chemical products are abrasive, and some even have colour changing properties that can wear away at materials.
Whilst art historians have used saliva to clean paintings over the years, we highly recommend sticking to the soft brush method (it sounds a little more sanitary). If the painting is of a sentimental or pricey nature, consider sending it to a professional to get it cleaned.
Packing works to be stored away for extended periods of time requires specific conditions to ensure that paint, canvas and frame do not experience any damage. Bubblewrap is your best friend, as the plastic keeps the artwork clean whilst protecting it from bumps and scrapes regardless of whether or not it is framed or unframed. For added security, consider putting your bubble-wrapped works in closely fitted boxes. If you can’t find a box to its size, pack the sides down with styrofoam to avoid it moving around. Any space between the artwork and the box should be filled!
For framed pieces, bubble wrap them, seal with packing tape, and pad the front and back of the artwork using hardboard. Seal them all together.
Unframed pieces require a little more legwork. Use a sheet of silicone release paper to cover the canvas and seal it with packing tape, ensuring that no tape makes contact with the canvas. If you can’t find silicone paper, a clean plastic sheet works too. Pad this further with bubble wrap, securing it with packing tape, and once again support its front and back with hardboard.
It is always important to be wary of the climate that your painting is stored in. Sudden changes in temperate will cause paintings to slacken, stretch, and may even cause the paint itself to crack. Look at storing your works at a consistent 55% humidity, and between 21-24 degrees Celsius.
Always avoid storing artworks in attics or basements as the climate conditions will most likely damage your artworks even if for a short period of time. Damp conditions will cause mold to fester and grow.
Keep your artworks separate from each other and always avoid laying them next to or on top of each other. For paintings that need to be stored for longer periods of time, place them on acid-free paper or board and lay them on a flat surface.
By using a clean cloth to cover your works, you reduce the build-up of dust and dirt on your artworks. If you’re thinking of keeping the paintings stored for an extended period of time, do take them out every once in a while to breather.
For more tips on how to frame your artwork, click here.
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