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Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

  Conservation Corner Back

DIY – Preventative ways to care
for your paintings

by Cheryle Harrison
Conservator, Pacific Conservators
Vancouver, BC

Everything changes, and what can you do about it? It is not a mystery to know how to take care of your paintings. Day to day efforts will assist in a longer existence for your artwork. Begin by asking a few questions: What, when and how. What kind of painting do you have? When did you last look closely at it? How can you help it to remain healthy?

Looking with raking light to check for
distortion and irregularities.
Paintings are created using differing materials and techniques. Each artwork is unique and has its own character and needs. A painting’s condition can be jeopardized by environmental conditions, display methods and handling. The materials and techniques used in an artwork’s construction can affect its level of endurance or fragility. Sometimes, a contemporary painting can be more sensitive than an old ancestral portrait.

Preservation of an object begins with observation. Changes are inevitable, and the best preventative care tool you have are your eyes. Take a look at your art...come a little closer and let the light play along its surface. What do you see? Are there areas where the canvas has undulated or are there bulges at the corner of the painting? Has paint begun to crack and pull away from its surface? When fragile conditions arise, their early detection may prevent the development of serious damage. Look at your artwork and monitor its condition.

DISPLAY: Consider more than the aesthetics when selecting a display area for your painting. Preassess sources of heat, draught or temperature variations. Do not display the artwork in direct light. Avoid outer walls, as the temperature will fluctuate with seasonal changes. Hanging a painting above a fireplace is not recommended, as variable temperatures occur from the chimney flue and fireplace heat. Be sure that the method of hanging is sufficient for the weight of the artwork and always use two receiving hooks on the wall. Consider the area around the displayed artwork: will traffic or use of the room endanger the work?

ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS: The recommended temperature level for paintings is between 18-20 degrees C (60-65 degrees F). The relative humidity levels should be 50-55%. The goal is to maintain stable environmental levels with minimal variations for day, night and seasonal changes. Too high a humidity level can result in fungus growth or bloom. If it is too cold, paint may fracture or delaminate. Affordable digital thermometers and humidity units are available at hardware stores – employ them to assess changes occurring in your home.

LIGHT: Light can result in pigment colour changes, dehydration or cracking. Textile strength may also be diminished or weakended. Assess the status of natural and artificial light sources. The intensity of a light source is recommended at 150-200 lux in value. Employ pot or track lighting and illuminate no closer than one metre from the face of the painting. The small lamps often found attached at the top of frames are destructive to paintings, creating “hot spots” leading to distortion and dehydration.

For more information visit the FACTS (Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards) website at www.artfacts.org

Next issue: Filling losses in paper

 Fri, Feb 1, 2008