6 Tips to Help You Care for Your Artwork

I used to work at a picture framers and currently work for an auctioneer, so I’m often asked how to look after art to keep it in great condition and looking its best. Although mostly common sense, I’ve definitely picked up some great advice along the way I thought I’d share. Here are 6 simple tips to ensure your art stays in tip top shape so you, your children and your children’s children can keep on enjoying it.

1. The Sun Is Not Your Friend

Cats like sun. Art not so much. Cats like the sun. Art not so much!     Source: Steve took it via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

While museums and cultural institutions have carefully monitored lighting and no windows at all to make sure all their artworks are protected from dreaded UV rays, hanging your artwork at home doesn’t have to be so much of a chore!

UV causes fading to artworks, and can also cause the materials (canvas or paper, for example) to become brittle.

Canvasses should be hung out of direct sunlight – this means that when you’re thinking of where to hang your art, have a look and see if a beam of sunlight is going to pass across the spot you’re thinking of.

Works on paper are more vulnerable to fading, this is why when you are getting works framed, it’s important to-

2. Know Your Framing Materials

art-for-saleUse UV Protective Glass in rooms with lots of sunlight.     Source: Tom Eversley

While not every work on paper needs the best conservation quality materials, your picture framer should be able to offer you some options as to what is going in to your frame.

UV Protective Glass can be extremely beneficial to works on paper being hung in rooms that get a lot of sunlight during the day.

Otherwise, your framer might be able to offer you archival mounting and backing, or a ‘regular’ semi-conservation that still offers some protection. What you don’t want is to find out that your artwork on paper was framed with cardboard backing (the kind you might get from a box) that in five years has turned your art yellow.

Unfortunately, no matter how good your materials are, it’s almost impossible to make an artwork waterproof.

3. Damp and Mould

Framed art in the bathroomNo art is safe in damp environments.     Source: The Styling Edge

While it’s lovely to have art in the bathroom, it’s important to know that even a framed and sealed artwork can eventually develop mould in a damp environment (the same can potentially go for kitchens).

The other problem for works on paper is cockling. This is when the bottom of the paper ripples. It is almost impossible to fix, though some buyers and artists of works on paper don’t mind a cockle effect that can often be caused by watercolours and other mediums.

4. Paper Has a Memory

canvas-in-tubeTake paper artworks out of the tube as soon as they arrive.     Source: Art House

Similar to cockling, pretty much anything that happens to paper is very difficult to undo.

This is why picture framers often recommend that if you receive a work on paper in a tube, take it out and flatten it straight away. Whether you put it in a folder, take it to be framed, or find an unconventional method of hanging it, get it out of that tube ASAP. The longer it is rolled, the stronger the memory in the paper will be.

5. Windex, Your Surprise Hero

Windex is great at keeping your art's frame clean.Keep white frames white with Windex.     Source: Your Best Digs

It’s very fashionable and modern to have white frames on both paper works and canvasses. White frames create a seamless blend into white walls, they make all artworks look clean and new… they have many benefits.

But as anyone who has ever owned a white shirt knows, white gets dirty very fast. Finger prints, dust, drips, it all shows up to ruin your clean look.

But Windex (or other ammonia-based cleaners) and a microfibre cloth work WONDERS on a white frame. A quick clean and they will be sparkling, modern and fresh again.

6. Have a hook that’s strong enough to hold the artwork!

cool-calm-and-collected-tanya-keenan-exl2-bluethumb-artDon’t risk damaging heavier framed paintings by using sticky hooks. Cool, Calm and Collected by Tanya Keenan

Make sure you know the kind of wall you have and the hook you use is strong enough to support your artwork. Sticky velcro picture hooks can be a great temporary option for lighter works, but for heavier framed works a bit of extra effort is worth it in the long run.

Your picture framer can often provide you with hooks and information, and don’t forget to check out our guide on how to hang a picture.

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One Comment

  1. Et Whalley says:

    Hello again
    just uncaged my 92 yo mothers 21st present
    a beautiful painting. of gum tree.
    just need a little clean…? how
    also it is stuck to the mounting board.
    and I would like to get a new mount.
    suggestions please.
    ta et

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