Oil paintings are creative, valuable assets that future generations can inherit, and they must be preserved with care and attention, especially knowledge. Understanding how to safeguard an oil painting will ensure the elegance of the painting remains whilst ensuring it is durable. If you're wondering how to preserve an oil painting, follow these guidelines to maintain its beauty and longevity.
Understanding the composition of oil paintings is the first step. Traditional oil paintings consist of layers formed by the canvas, primer, paint, and varnish, which all contribute to the final look of the art piece.
The primer is applied first to prepare the canvas for the paint application and also acts as a base to ensure vibrant, lasting colours. The layers of paint bring the art to life, and the varnish will be added as a final touch to protect and enhance the painting.
Choosing the right location
The environment is a critical factor that will influence the longevity of your painting. The biggest threat to your oil painting is direct, harsh sunlight. Not only will it lead to discolouration and fading as it comes into contact with the oil paints and bleaches them, but the fluctuations in temperature against the canvas can also cause it to expand, leading to cracks in the oil painting. The most optimal environment for storing your oil paintings is somewhere stable, with controlled humidity and temperatures and minimal dust. If you're wondering how to preserve an oil painting on canvas, taking these precautions will contribute to the long-term preservation of your valuable artwork.
Humidity levels can be crucial, as they can often lead to mould on oil paintings. A humidity level between 40-60% is best, and a dehumidifier is suggested to maintain an optimal humidity level.
Dust can often be an issue when oil paintings are stored for an extended period. If dust and dirt accumulate on your oil painting, it can be as simple as softly dusting the oil painting using a dry microfiber cloth. However, this must be done regularly, and you must start from the top whilst working your way down to catch any falling dust on your oil painting. Of course, being gentle with your dusting is essential and do not use any sprays or cleaning products.
Protecting your artwork requires knowledge and specificity. You can do many simple things to avoid uneven fading and deterioration of your art or minimise the risk of damage. Rotating your artwork to ensure every part of the painting is exposed to equal light and air will prevent uneven fading. Rotating your oil paintings every six months to a year is recommended. Your knowledge of changes in conditions within each environment will impact how long each painting remains in one location.
Other pollutants or variations that may harm your oil paintings are fireplaces. They typically bring dust into the environment and can risk damage to the paintings due to their extreme heat. It’s suggested that you avoid hanging your oil paintings directly above the fireplace.
An additional layer of protection can be added through frames, which not only protect the layers of paint on your oil painting, but also the edges of the canvas which are typically always exposed to damage. In larger rooms, a painting with an A1 frame will not only protect the oil painting, but also enhance the room visually, especially within spacious environments.
Professional Restoration if needed
In case of any damage or discolouration, sending your oil painting to a professional restoration service is advised. You mustn’t attempt DIY repairs as it will likely worsen the damage and may not address the correct issues.
Preserving oil paintings requires caution, care, and specific measures that ensure your oil paintings remain elegant and do not lose value through damage. Oil paintings can remain vibrant for many years as long as they are looked after carefully and follow the correct storage procedures. The most significant aftercare steps are managing a steady environment with minimal humidity, light, and temperature fluctuations and treating the painting cautiously and carefully. Any indications of degradation should be immediately attended to and given to a professional restoration service. With the right approach, your oil paintings will be enjoyed by future generations.