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How to Preserve Oil Painting ?

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Rad Educators is a 1-year program intended to help beginner artists learn step-by-step techniques from professional artists across different mediums. This is in no way sponsored or promoted by any particular Art Brand.

Nilisha Phad is Rad Educator for Oil Painting - Portrait.

Oil paintings, if preserved in the right way , can become important mediums of documenting long lost history . Oil medium stays intact for decades if handled in a technically sound manner.

In this tutorial, I am sharing my knowledge of preserving an oil painting and the factors which decrease the life of a painting .

Certain factors which can harm your painting in the long run are :

  • Mixing certain transparent and opaque colours together, causing the colour to become ‘dull’ .

  • Mixing the colour too much on the colour palette, causing excessive friction between the brush and the palette. Colours applied with a knife retain freshness longer .

  • Keeping the paintings in a place where there is moisture can cause the paintings to get affected with fungal growth.

  • Layering two different mediums such as water based (acrylics) and oil based mediums in a painting can cause peeling after a certain time.

  • Not using appropriate ratio of linseed oil and turpentine can cause the painting to go dry.

To preserve an oil painting , following are the things that one should keep in mind :

  • When preparing shades while painting , mix the colours with a palette knife to retain their freshness.

  • Making sure that turpentine or any other spirit based mediums don’t get mixed with the colour and damage it.

  • Keeping the painting in a dry place away from moisture. Incase of fungal growth, wipe the painting with a ‘dry’ cloth.

Certain varnishes and mediums can be used to further ensure that the painting is well preserved. For this purpose , I often use the ‘Liquid Gel’ by Winsor and Newton.

However, before using the gel, it is important that the painting is completely dry . A partially dried painting can get affected due to the gel.

Also, a gloss / Matt varnish spray by Winsor and Newton works well for this purpose.

Lastly, using a good quality canvas which is appropriately primed is important and largely contributes to how long the painting will last. Linen canvases tend to have long lasting archival properties .

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