Display & Cleaning Paintings
A collector’s prized collection is a matter of pride and honor for them. Showcasing a collection is a lot more than simply hanging them by hook and nail or knowing how to handle them with sensitivity. Displaying these cherished works of art are way more complicated than that and entail quite a few concerning factors.
First and foremost is deciding where to hang an artwork. Choosing the spot where one hangs an artwork is more than a mere aesthetic decision. The perfect spot on the wall to hang an artwork is where you can easily put wall studs to anchor the hooks, far off from direct sunlight, or any other source of heat, and a spot that enjoy a comparatively stable and reasonable level of humidity.
Two of the most damaging factors are dirt and heat. Heat from any source is likely to age the painting faster by drying out the material of the painting. Heat, as it rises tends to carry the dirt with it, causing more grime to settle on a painting above the heat source than on any other surface in the room. Heat sources may even soften some paints causing the dirt to settle down deeper into the artwork. This damage is amplified even more so in case of unprimed and unvarnished paintings in particular.
The support and ground of the painting are especially vulnerable to any kind of moisture or water damage. In case the damage to the support and ground is persistent, it may spread to the paint and to the varnish. Moisture has a tendency to deteriorate the adhesion of the layers of paint thus causing a gradual loss of color.
Extremes of humidity, both low and high are detrimental to the health of a work of art, as is a rapid fluctuation in relative humidity. Though a lower humidity minimizes chemical changes, but it tends to make the paint brittle, thus increasing the chances of physical damage. Higher humidity minimizes the chances of physical damage but stimulates biological growth. Acrylic paintings in particular are seen to have developed mold in the form of black spots.
Frequent fluctuations in relative humidity and the resultant shielding effect of the layer of paint on the top causes the wooden panel to attain a concave shape. In the past, an effort was made by the restorers to reverse this damage by flattening the panel. Over a period of time this process resulted in flaking off of the paint layer on the other side.
The thumb rule here is to keep any kind of ultraviolet lights away from the paintings that are on display or in storage. This is so because the ultraviolet rays cause the colorant to fade away gradually. The intensity and wavelength that is used while displaying the artworks is designed to be safe for the paintings.
If there is a need to dust the paintings, this should be done after careful inspection of the painting. If there are no signs of loose or flaking paint then you may dust your painting with a soft natural hair artist’s brush. While dusting the painting needs to be placed on a soft padding, should be upright and tilted forward. This is done to ensure that while dusting, the loose dust falls away from the face of the painting. The direction needs to be maintained either from top to bottom or running across the painting in gentle and unhurried motion.
In case the painting has a matte surface brushing should be avoided, as it may leave a glossy imprint thus changing the face and manipulating the authenticity of the same.
Any kind of dusting cloth whether dry or moist may damage the paint with either strands of it getting stuck in the raised areas and the moisture is sure to cause loss of color. Similarly stiff bristle brushes and feather dusters also may cause irreparable damage by scratching the surface of the painting.
If at any point in maintaining, cleaning, or displaying your painting should you feel even a hint of a doubt, it is strongly advised to consult a professional to assist and train you for the situation. The conservators or preservers are educated, skilled, and experienced enough to treat the paintings with utmost care and respect, meanwhile guiding you in its upkeep to ensure that their life is only increased with each handling.