Tips to keep your artwork in the best possible condition

When spending a sum of money on a piece of art, you want to keep it in the best possible condition – right? After buying a painting or a really nice print, what can be better than admiring it each day and knowing that it can be increasing in value.  However, to ensure it keeps its value and looks at its best, you need to look after it.  Here are a few tips to ensure your artwork remains in pristine condition.

Check fixings

I have people every single month bringing in pictures to my Gallery that have fallen off the wall.  Sometimes it is just the frame that is damaged and it can be repaired.  Other times it has smashed into a piece of furniture damaging that and your picture.  Sometimes if it is glazed,  the glass has broken and damaged the print/original.  If that picture is valuable, it becomes an expensive accident and one that is preventable.

Always check the fixings and the cord/wire on the back of the picture at least once a year.  Cord and wire both fray over time.  If you see any evidence of this, replace straight away.

picture hanging
picture hanging

When you hang a picture, use two picture hangers instead of one.  Space them 2 to 3″ apart.  This is useful for two reasons.  Firstly, if one hanger was to fail, the picture would still be held by the second one.  Secondly, if you use two hooks, the picture will remain level.  Nothing looks worse than pictures on the wall out of alignment and level.  With one hook, the picture is more prone to be knocked out of alignment than using two hooks.

If your picture is particularly heavy, do not use “knock in hooks” but heavy duty screw in hooks.

Pictures on outside walls

Tips – If you hang a picture on an outside wall, if it is a print or under glass you need to take these precautions.

There is a difference in temperature from the inside of a house to the outside particularly during winter.  I always recommend that the back of the picture is not touching the wall.   Condensation can form that can penetrate the back of the picture and ultimately damage your artwork.  My advice is to put a couple of buffers on the bottom of the frames so that the picture is not touching the wall.  This allows for a free flow of air which will stop damage occuring.

It is not advisable to hang a picture directly over a radiator either.  Heat can cause damage particularly to oils and acrylics.  The paint can dry up and become flakey.  If you must hang your artwork in this position, hang it as high as possible away from the heater or better still, install a mantle shelf  so that the heat is deflected into the room.

Sunlight can be harmful

Tips – Do not hang pictures in direct sunlight if at all possible.  This applies to watercolours and prints particularly where sunlight can fade the image.  My Gallery, and most galleries keep special glass which takes out 99% of the damaging UV rays.  If your picture is in a very bright room, I would suggest you have this fitted to your picture.  It costs about 3 times the price of normal glass but the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Sunlight is not such a problem with oils and acrylics but just like radiators, too much heat can cause the paint to dry out and craze.

Conservation Framing Tips

In this section I am referring to prints and watercolours only.  It doesn’t affect anything that is not under glass.

If your watercolour or print was framed sometime ago and has a mount, please check it.  Mountcards these days have a neutral ph and won’t deteriorate over time.  This was not the case years ago.  Mountcard was manufactured with acidic materials and over time can damage your artwork.  A simple way to check is to look at the cut edge.  If it has gone a brown colour, that is an old mount and needs to be replaced.  Why? Because the acid in the card will eat into the paper and leave a brown stain which will need a specialist to remove.

In my Gallery, everything that is framed is framed to conservation standard.  That means that your artwork will look as good in a hundred years time as it does today.

Final thoughts

If you follow these tips, you should be able to enjoy your artwork without any worries, and know that if you come to sell, you will get the best possible price.

Remember, collectors only want to purchase works that are in pristine condition.