By Artists For Artists

Caring for Art 101: Cleaning, Protecting, Storing

So, you have produced your artwork, you have infused it with your passion, care, and attention, and want to display it to the world. To preserve your precious pieces and make sure they withstand the test of time, galleries, and transport, there are some things to know about cleaning and preserving art. Here are some pointers to keep your canvases and frames looking pristine for a long time.

Keep It Clean

You want people to enjoy the look of your work without specs of dust or marks in the way, so cleaning art is essential. Regular dusting with a non-abrasive cloth will suffice, but never use solvents or harsh cleaners to clean your painting, as they could taint or destroy the pigment. Micro-fiber cloths are fabulous for regular dusting and keeping the build-up at bay.

Keep Out of Direct Sunlight

It may sound obvious, but it is important to remember the bleaching quality of UV light. It can degrade and change the paint color and finish over time, so ensure that displayed artworks are not exposed to harsh rays. If sunlight is unavoidable, consider adding a UV filtering Plexiglas screen to protect from tainting.

Consider Plexiglas for Protection

Plexiglas is a more flexible alternative to glass framing. While glass is revered for its classic aesthetic appeal, Plexiglas is resistant to damage. It is especially useful if your work is transported regularly or displayed in a place where bumps and knocks are more likely. The UV filter option is a great way to avoid sun exposure in sun-quenched galleries and collection rooms. 

Pay Attention to Humidity

Humidity can devastate artwork, causing cracking and bubbling in paint. Be sure to check the moisture content of the display space and consider buying a dehumidifier if it’s higher than 50-55.

Be Aware of Your Fingers

We’ve all heard our relatives imploring us to hold photographs at the corners, and there is sound logic in it. Our fingers are constantly seeping natural oils that can taint and smear shiny surfaces (just look at your greasy phone screen right now, I dare you). Avoid contact with artwork surfaces without gloves or, if you must touch it, make sure it is only with freshly washed hands that are free of lotions or oils. 

Store It Mindfully

Nobody wants to experience taking their beloved artwork from a tube or stack and realizing it is damaged. Take care not to store canvases or cards in tubes for long, as they can remain permanently curled, cracked, or creased. If storing stacks of artworks, ensure to keep a layer of material between them to prevent sticky materials or paints from fusing and causing tears when they are separated. Always store work flat, dry, and in a dark place if possible. If you are transporting your work, always make sure they are wrapped up cozily in bubble wrap and labeled as delicate cargo.

Article written by Kate Smith

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