I have encouraged you to buy original artwork this holiday season as gifts to others (and why not for yourself!). Wouldn’t it be nice to know some basics about caring for said artworks?!
What do I do if it gets dirty/dusty?
For canvas only: using a damp (NOT sopping wet) cloth, carefully wipe down the surface. Since your artwork was varnished it has a protective layer that allows you to do this. If the surface has ripped or been marked, you should contact the artist or a conservationist for repair. Paper artwork should be framed behind glass, which can be cleaned with glass cleaner and dusting cloths.
What do I do if the canvas appears dented?
The easiest way to remedy this is to “paint” the BACK of the canvas with water. Use any brush. Depending on the severity of the dent, it may take several applications of water for this to be successful. Let the water dry in between applications. If this does not work, you may wish to bring it to a framer or art restorer.
What if I am moving? How do I travel with the work?
You have choices:
- Wrap the work in a brown paper, bubble wrap and then in foam. Feel free to do this several times. Place it in a box and label it FRAGILE: ORIGINAL ARTWORK. [Many packing and shipping stores have boxes especially for artwork that you can also purchase.]
- Roll up the canvas or paper artwork. For canvas, CAREFULLY remove the staples from the back of the canvas and separate the canvas from the stretcher bars (wood frame). ROLL the artwork up and place it in a watertight shipping tube. (DO NOT FOLD your work or the surface will crack or break!) When you arrive at your new destination bring it to a frame shop and have it re-stretched or re-framed.
Overall strategies for longevity of artwork
- Do not hang your artwork in rooms that hold a lot of moisture, like washrooms. The constant change in humidity can eventually crack the paint. This is especially important for any artwork completed on paper, which will wrinkle and bend from the humidity changes.
- If the work is exposed to the sun, be sure it is exposed evenly; eventually artwork will lose some of its color vibrancy with sun exposure so best that it “cooks” evenly, so to speak. Usually, this process will take years. Most artists would ask and encourage you to avoid displaying the work on a wall with a lot of sun exposure.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: If you are a visual artist, take these suggestions and make a handout for your clients. When you sell your work, present them a sheet describing these strategies. Your clients will be impressed and pleased that you care about the future of your work.
caring-for-your-original-artwork — Click for a PDF version of my handout.
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