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How to Preserve Artwork?

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Since ages, human civilization has been renowned for its rich and vibrant cultural hues. Preservation has an integral significance in itself in unveiling the essence of magnificent heritage and legacy. Be it The Bhimbekia and Darkrai-Chattah cupules, which has been dated around 700,000 BC to modern age paintings like Vincent Van Gogh's 'The Starry Night' have delineated the evolution of manhood. We wouldn't have come close to any of it if they were not safeguarded. Consequently, preservation of artworks has thrown a ray of light on the dynamic aesthetic aspect giving us a broader spectrum to search deeper into the roots.

It is well quoted that- "Valuable things are only valuable as the condition they are in." This provides the purpose of preservation. Below are the simple preventives to conserve paintings.

1) Avoid direct exposure of sunlight :

Paintings, when kept under the sunlight, are likely susceptible to fade. Warm temperature and the rays can drain out the colors leaving it dull and bleak. In the exposure of sunlight, the paper may become brittle. Therefore, hang your painting in a cool and dry place to keep the authenticity of the artwork alive.

2) Humidity :

Do not stow your artwork in a room having more than 50% of humidity. The saturated environment may lead to smudging and color bleeding. Use cloth covers to cover your artwork instead of plastic ones as the humid air can lead to the growth of mould.

3) Cleaning :

Artwork needs frequent cleaning so that it doesn't lose its charm. Do not clean your artwork with cleaners or water as it may dim its coloring making it dull. Use a brush or a cotton cloth for dusting it. Do not clean if the paint is peeling off.

4) Avoid touching :

Do not touch paintings with bare hands as the natural oil can affect it and may leave fingerprints. Wear clean cotton gloves instead.

5) Storing :

When storing a painting place cardboard on the edges and acid-free paper on both sides to prevent bending. Place wax paper or glad wrap in sketchbook drawings to prevent smudging. Do not place painting one above the other, which can lead to puckering and paint cracking.

6) Fixatives :

It is advised to use fixatives on graphite, charcoal, and pastel work to prevent smudging. It also enhances its durability. Avoid using hair sprays as an alternative as it may cause a yellowing effect.

7) Covering :

Do not frame artwork of canvas under glass as it traps the moisture due to which it may get stretched. While framing a sketch, protect it with non-glare glass. Use breathable sheets for covering and avoid using bubble wraps.

8) Varnishing :

The varnish is a clear protective layer that is used on oil paintings, wood, and acrylic paintings bringing uniformity and giving a glossy effect on the surface. It is needed to varnish the paintings as it prevents dirt and dust accumulation, exposure of UV rays, and yellowing effect.

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