New art is a special purchase, especially when it depicts something near and dear to your heart; a sweet painting of your beloved dog or childhood home adds a meaningful addition to your space.
But how do you care for it? What steps should you take to protect it, and what should you avoid? Art, like everything else in your home, is affected by its surroundings and needs a little maintenance now and again.
Follow PatronArt’s guide to caring for your art—your budding collection will thank you for it.
The first step may seem obvious, but framing your art not only makes it more attractive, it also gives the piece added protection.
- Avoid glass: Paintings on canvas should be framed without glass. Placing glass on top forms a moisture trap that will warp the canvas.
Type of frame: This is where you can have a little fun. Metal or wood are both OK, so go with what suits you. We recommend you take it to a professional framer so it’s secured properly.
Works on paper
- Glaze it: While paintings shouldn’t be framed under glass, the opposite applies to works on paper since they have a more fragile constitution. The glass protects from dust and other debris building up on the paper and can also stave off UV rays.
- Archival materials: The quality of your materials is maybe the most important thing to consider. Splurge for museum quality glass and always opt for acid-free matting. It’s more expensive, but the investment will pay off in the long run..
Light and moisture: the enemies
Repeat after me: Light and moisture are not your friends. Here are a couple things you can do to avoid them.
- Avoid direct light: Light accelerates fading and discoloration on a work of art; both natural and fluorescent light can do damage. Avoid hanging in direct sunlight. If you have artwork already in the sun, draw the blinds to protect it during certain times of day.
- Switch up the hanging location: Ever notice how museums switch their works around, especially works on paper? This helps deter light damage. You can move it into storage for awhile, or simply move it to a room with less light.
- Avoid moisture: Try to keep your living area stable in terms of moisture and temperature. Don’t hang your art near the radiator (especially if you live in an older building with steam radiators) or in bathrooms.
*Remember: Light affects works on paper more than paintings, so be especially aware of the light around a drawing or print.
Works of art and their frames should be cleaned gently throughout their life. If they aren’t cleaned, then dust and grime can build up, not only obscuring the image, but also causing damage to the structure of the piece. Cleaning should be done with a light touch. No chemicals near the painting!
- Invest in a feather duster: Not just for French maids, feather dusters are the perfect tool to clean paintings. They’re gentle enough to remove dust without affecting the pigments below. Dust your paintings gently, and don’t use water or cleaning supplies.
- Avoid these major fails: Do not under any circumstances use a handheld vacuum to clean your art. Do not use bread. (Yes, people have really tried it in the past). Don’t do either of these. Just don’t.
Works on paper
- Focus on the frame: Your works on paper should already be framed under glass so your job just revolves around cleaning the frame. Here you can use some glass cleaner to remove the build up of dust. A microfiber cloth works wonders to remove dust from the nooks and crannies of a frame.
*One last tip: You should also consider how to minimize the dust and buildup around your artwork. Smoking, candles, and fireplaces are a few sources of grime that can end up on your painting adding to its surface dust.
Keep your eye on it
Lastly, we recommend looking at your artwork! Well, of course you’re going to look at it, but along with enjoying the piece you commissioned for its beauty, look at it with the eyes of a conservator. This way, if any signs of damage pop up, you can deal with them fast so further damage doesn’t occur. Some things to look out for:
- Cracks: There are different types of cracking on a painted surface. One variation is called craquelure, which is caused by aging in a painting; this type is not always viewed as a negative, but rather as a sign of age. However, other cracks in the painting can be due to improper handling of the work and lead to flaking of the painted surface, so be mindful if you see any cracks pop up.
- Lifting or blisters: lifting is when some of the paint appears to be rising away from the canvas, and blisters look like bubbles appearing on the canvas. This can lead to loss of media from chipping.
- Foxing: Foxing is a fancy word for the reddish-brown dots that appear on paper. Art that develops foxing should be taken to a conservator to stop the damage.
- Water damage: if water has somehow come into contact with your artwork, you made see tidelines and a fading of color.
Check out the rear: Sometimes the first signs of damage appear on the back of paintings or works of art. Here you may see hints of mold or water damage, so check out the back of your artworks now and then.
*Remember: If you see something, take it to a professional conservator. Most will take a look at the potential damage for free and provide an estimate for any work that needs to be done.
We hope these tips will help you will enjoy your painting or drawing for years to come. Remember, if you need any help or further advice for caring for your work, reach out to our curators at support@PatronArt.com. We’re always here to lend a helping hand!