Caring for your Original Acrylic Painting

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How to Keep Your Painting in Great Condition

 

Acrylic paint tends to hold onto dust and dirt. The paint is relatively soft at room temperature and can also attract dust due to electrostatic charges on their surface. If the temperature is warm, the paint may soften and any dust could be absorbed into the paint when the weather cools and the paint contracts and hardens. The only absolute way to protect the surface is behind glass in a protective frame. This, however, is not really how acrylic paintings were made to be enjoyed. There are some precautions and cleaning measures you can take to reduce damage over time. 

  • Avoid displaying in direct sunlight. Pigments are typically very lightfast, but in direct sunlight, changes can occur over long periods of time.

 

  • Avoid hanging or displaying over a direct heat source—radiators, vents or too near a fireplace. Smoke, ashes and heat damage paintings. Similarly, try to avoid displaying it in an excessively damp or cold location. Humidity can also take its toll; mold is not unheard of although I have never seen it myself. Extreme cold temperatures can cause acrylic paint to crack.

 

  • Once a week, dust with a clean, dry, soft brush or soft cotton cloth with no seams or sewn edges that could scratch it.
     

  • Avoid placing anything on the front surface of the painting when it is lying flat.
     

  • Never put water on the surface of the painting or dampen it without consulting
    the artist.
     

  • Avoid touching the surface of the painting whenever possible and take great caution when handling it. Dirt and oil from fingers are sometimes difficult to remove so be sure to have clean, dry hands. The surface is also sensitive to pressure and can dent or be scraped with just fingernail pressure. And yes, I am touching the painting in the photo above, so yes, I'm a hypocrite. :)
     

  • In the event that a piece painted on stretched canvas is accidentally stretched or dented slightly (avoid this technique with wooden supports or canvas board), the canvas may be made taut again by dampening the canvas on the *back* of the painting (never the painted surface) in the affected area with a damp clean paint brush or cloth and allowing it to dry.
     

  • When handling, take care not to bump or rub the painting against anything that could mark it.  If the painting has been moved a lot, sometimes paint may chip off (unframed) corners of the canvas. If this happens and you wish the spots repaired, I will gladly touch them up to the best of my ability. Client must arrange for transportation of the piece to and from my studio for this purpose.
     

  • If the painting must be stored for a period of time, do so in a dust-free environment if possible and ideally just below standard room temperature to reduce softening of the paint film. I often cover them with pillowcases or sheets that are breathable but will keep the dust off.

 

Transportation and Storage

 

  • Be careful not to lean the canvas of the painting against anything that could cause denting, stretching or tearing of canvas fibers. Only the wooden stretcher frame should touch anything the painting is leaning against. To transport safely with you, ensure that the painted surface is protected and that nothing can poke or press on the painted surface from the front or the back. Never rest two acrylic painting surfaces against each other as they may adhere.

    Here are a few methods depending on how much protection you want to provide:

    • put it into a box after carefully wrapping it in a pillowcase or other soft cloth.  

    • rest the wrapped painting on a flat surface where it won't slide or be knocked by anything in transit

    • wrap the painting in something that will lie absolutely smooth against the painted surface and won't adhere to the surface (soft cloth, glassine paper, parchment paper) and then cut two pieces of foam core, unfolded corrugated cardboard, rigid insulation or something similar that are larger than the painting on all sides (eg. 1 inch or 2cm). Sandwich the wrapped painting between the two cut boards, securing the "sandwich" with packing tape that only touches the surface of the two boards. Wrap with more padding (towel, blanket, bubble wrap), making sure corners are adequately padded and then put into a plastic bag (garbage bag if large), especially if it is possible it may get wet from rain. Prolonged storage in sealed plastic is not recommended however. More rigorous packing (just one example in this link) should be done if it is to be shipped by mail, courier or moving van. Contact me for details.

  • Avoid leaving the painting in a vehicle where it may get very hot or cold, especially in the trunk. The acrylic responds to temperature, softening when hot and growing tight and more brittle and susceptible to crack when cold.