Protect Your Investment and Keep Your Artwork Safe
When you have a custom piece of art created just for you, whether it’s from a local artist or an artist you found online at a site like Paint Your Life, you may need to take some special measures to keep it safe. Works of art are a household item that is likely to become a family heirloom to be passed down from one generation to the next, but that won’t happen if the artwork isn’t cared for properly.
How do you protect your art so that it will survive for generations? Read on to find out.
Frame, Hang, and Clean Your Painting Carefully
Before you ever even get your painting on the wall, you need to begin considering how to best care for it. Begin with the framing process. Ideally, a painting should be framed by a professional or very cautious craftsman. Mediums like oil on canvas don’t need to be covered with glass, but you might consider using glass over any art that’s done on paper.
Art is often damaged during hanging, and it would be a real shame if you never even got to enjoy your new piece before it was ruined. While you can, in theory, usually hang a piece of art from a single nail, it’s not the best solution. Using multiple nails means one can act as a backup in the event the other fails.
Another time when damage might be incurred by a piece of art is during cleaning. Obviously, cleaning is necessary, but you must be very careful about how you do it. Here are some basic rules for cleaning artwork at home:
- Avoid using harsh cleaning products on the glass or frame.
- Dust gently with a perfectly clean duster.
- Pick up a specialty cleaning brush at an art store for the best results.
- Test any cleaning method on a small, obscure patch of art.
If someone else cleans your home, such as a friend, relative, or cleaning service, it’s very important that you discuss how they should approach cleaning your painting.
If you must store your painting, it’s important not to store it in an area that isn’t climate controlled like a basement, attic, or garage. Instead, store unhung paintings sitting against a wall in a spare room or closet and use acid-free boards between paintings if you’re planning on stacking up multiple pieces of art in one place.
Keep Your Art Safe from the Elements
“What elements?” you may be asking. It’s easy to imagine that if a painting or drawing is kept inside, it won’t be at risk of damage from the elements. However, that’s not necessarily true. There are lots of conditions even inside of our homes that can damage artwork.
One of the main culprits of damaged artwork inside of homes is sunlight. You can do some things to mitigate the damaging effects of UV rays:
- Use shades, blinds, or curtains whenever possible in rooms where art is hanging.
- Hang art in rooms that don’t get much direct sunlight.
- Rotate art throughout your home so no one piece gets the worst of the UV rays.
- Use UV shielding glass when possible. Plexiglass or museum glass are good choices.
- Definitely use glass over artwork done on paper such as charcoal drawings or watercolor on paper.
Moisture in the air is another common cause of damaged artwork. If you’ve ever come across paper or fabrics that have been stored in a humid area, this will instantly make sense. Moisture tends to crinkle thin, fibrous materials and may even cause them to mold if they’re left in humid conditions for long periods.
You can do your painting a double service by avoiding hanging it near an entryway. Paintings may be subject to direct sunlight and changes in moisture level that comes from opening and closing doors that lead to outside frequently.
HVAC systems can also do real damage. The direct heat, cool, and potential moisture that comes from HVAC vents could ruin your art, so make sure you choose a place to hang your art that is away from where vents blow or other especially warm or cool areas in your home. While we’re talking about HVAC, it’s best for the longevity of your painting to keep your home at around 70° year-round.
Fireplaces are another no-no when it comes to precious works of art. The heat, smoke, and soot from fires and the moisture from chimney drafts can all be detrimental to paintings. For these reasons, it’s best to keep art you’d like to keep around for a long time away from fireplaces regardless of the season.
What Happens When Art Isn’t Cared For?
Artwork that isn’t cared for properly can become faded, mottled, cracked, and generally ruined. Canvas paintings may get holes from dropping or other physical assaults. While some damage may be able to be undone through restoration or crafty fixes, it’s best to avoid damage in the first place. Fixing a painting can be an expensive or time-consuming prospect.
If you’d like to consult with a professional about how to best protect art in your home or address conservation issues about a specific piece of art, you can contact the American Institute for Conservation to find a local art conservator.