How to Care for Oil Paintings
|Varnishing an Oil Painting|
- Hanging the oil painting over a heat source such as a gas fire or radiator. The constant temperature changes and the drying effect could cause the paint layer to expand and contract, creating stresses. The result could be cracking.
- Placing the oil painting near a window under an intense light source could cause some of the pigments to fade or discolour.
- Storing the oil painting in a damp location could cause a fogging of the varnish layer due to condensation getting trapped between the painting and the varnish. Damp stains on the canvas may permeate onto the paint layer, causing tide marks or worse, the weave of the canvas to rot.
A less serious problem, an old oil painting may dull over time due to the accumulation of dirt, dust and smoke in the atmosphere on the varnish. One need not worry, for this is the purpose of the varnish. After ten or twenty years or so, the varnish is supposed to be removed with a special varnish remover along with all the pollutants, and a fresh coat of varnish applied. It is only when the painting has been restored in this way that the colours jump out once again, as though freshly painted.
The temptation to over-clean should be resisted as this could damage the painting. Similarly, never try removing the varnish with an industrial varnish remover, spirits or abrasive agent. Special varnish removers for fine art are worth the investment.
Fine Art Restoration Services
The type of restoration required depends upon the nature of the damage. A particularly old painting, of prior 19th century may well benefit from the restoration by experts. Contacting an art restorer who is a member of the British Association of Conservator Restorers (BAPCR) is a safer bet. The following common restoration services are available:
|Oil Painting Varnish|
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Canvas Repair: if there are holes, tears or scratches on the paint layer. In which case, the painting surface may need to be professionally patched.
Inpainting: a technique where damage to the paint layer due to peeling or cracking is restored. This entails building up the paint layer to its original state with carefully matched pigments and brushmarks. This is not repainting or over-painting, but replacing what is missing. Only specialist restorers should be commissioned to do such work, as matching pigments and the brushmarks of the original artist are painstaking.
Oil Painting Conservators
The best art restorers use minimum intervention to the oil painting, some using specialist in-house techniques such as micro-friction cleaning or composition lining. Micro friction is used for the removal of hard varnishes, where a controlled jet of small particles is propelled at the varnish to break it up for removal. All techniques used by a reputable art restorer should be reversible, meaning that the work can easily be removed by future restorers if required.
Information on Oil Painting Repair and Restoring