I’m often asked how to protect your pictures so that they remain in pristine condition over the years.
So here are 5 ways to protect and ensure your artwork remains at its best.
- The greatest danger to paintings is sunlight and especially direct sunlight. Avoid wherever possible, putting paintings and prints in direct sunlight. This is especially important with watercolours and prints that can fade badly if subject to long periods of sunlight. If possible, keep these in areas of your living space that are mostly shaded during the day. Technology is advancing all the time and there is special glass that you can have fitted to protect your pictures that will remove 99% of the harmful UV rays. Use this glass particularly if you have watercolours and prints and your living space is very sunny. Also, use this glass if your artwork has value because this glass will give you peace of mind and added protection. It is well worth it for the extra cost involved. The same protection would be needed for cross-stitch & tapestries. For oils and acrylics, it isn’t quite so important as they are not prone to fading. However, if the paint has been applied thickly to the canvas or substrates, too much sun may cause cracking or crazing of the paint.
- Dampness and condensation is another problem that occurs from time to time. Avoid putting pictures on damp walls if you can. This applies particularly for works on paper, ie watercolours, prints or drawings. The dampness in the wall can penetrate the back of the picture and cause staining and spotting that can come through to spoil the image. The same applies with condensation, if your picture is fixed to an outside wall, there is a difference between the outside and inside temperature which can promote condensation. The way to deal with this is to ensure that the back of the picture is not touching the wall. Fixing buffers to the bottom of the frame normally works and ensures a free flow of air between the wall and picture. Again, with oils and acrylics, the problem is not so acute. However, it is worth putting bumpers or buffers on the bottom of the frames so that mildew is kept at bay.
Frame to conservation standard to protect your pictures
- If you have a piece of artwork that you need framing. Make sure the artwork is framed to conservation standard. This will ensure that all boards like mount card
and backing boards have a neutral pH and the frame is correctly sealed. This again is only important for items such as drawings, prints, watercolours & pastels etc that are framed under glass.
- If you have a work on paper that was framed sometime ago. It is worth getting the mount changed and glass also in some situations. Mount cards from years ago were not acid-free and if left on the artwork, will leave a brown stain where the acid burns into the paper. Most picture framers only stock acid-free mounts these days and this ensures that the mount will not damage the artwork. For the cost of a new mount, well worth doing.
Check fixings regularly
- Check the fixings on the back of your pictures regularly (at least once a year). Braid and brass wire can fray and corrode over time. The last thing you want is for a
picture to fall off the wall because the cord or wire has given way. Also, I always advise when hanging a picture, to fix it in position with two wall hooks. That is for two reasons. Firstly the picture is not prone to easily go out of level if knocked and secondly, the extra hook acts as security. If the first fails for some reason, the second will hold firm.
These are my top tips to ensure peace of mind and avoid expensive restorations and calamities and to protect your pictures for the future.