Tips for the Maintenance and Handling of Oil Painting

Maintenance by David Larson Evans, 2012.

Oil paintings, whether you created yourself, acquired from an auction or an heirloom, have much value. You have to take care of its maintenance, handling, and storage. Paintings last a long time and to lengthen its beauty and life, proper care must be given to them. Museums and art galleries spend a lot and they go at great lengths just to keep and safeguard their paintings. As a painter or as an art collector, you must know some information on the maintenance and correct handling of your pieces. Here are some tips:

1. Handle the oil painting by the frame. Don’t touch the painting surface to avoid leaving natural oils from your skin.

2. An oil painting canvas is pliable, so don’t put an object at the front and behind the painting which could press the painting and leave a dent, or worse, cause a tear. If there is damage in the painting, you could do your own repair but if the piece is an heirloom or has much value, it’s better to ask a professional art restorer to do the repair.

3. When transporting an oil painting, place cardboard or thin plywood on both sides of the painting and put bubble wrap around it to secure the painting. Don’t stack paintings on top of the other.

4. When you are permanently storing a painting, put it in a custom-sized plywood container and brace the painting to avoid movements. Don’t store the painting in your attic or basement since the environment in these rooms are not favorable for paintings.

5. Don’t expose your painting under direct or extreme sunlight, cold, or humidity. These conditions will cause the paint to fall off, weaken the canvas in time, and ultimately damage your painting.

6. The best place to “store” a painting is by displaying it on a wall. Paintings are created to be viewed and admired, not to be hidden under the basement. Hang it in a place without extreme temperatures. Don’t hang it near or across a window, fireplace, or any room with much humidity.

7. Don’t hang paintings in hallways or any room where there are lots of movements and where it can be knocked or scratched. The best room for a painting would be a room where people are comfortable, a room where the temperature is controlled, not much heat or cold. Keep your paintings away from fireplaces, heaters and radiators.

8. Use two hooks when hanging a painting to provide enough support and balance. The painting should be high for people to see but not too high to put a strain on the viewer’s neck. If you are hanging a painting in your living room, the best spot is above the sofa, above head height of anyone sitting.

9. Use a soft-bristled brush to dust the surface of the painting to prevent dust from accumulating.

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