Know Your Paint Media – Karabi Art
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Know Your Paint Media

Know Your Paint Media

Every collector and owner of a painting has their own preferred style, artist, era, or medium that they admire. Materials like oil, acrylic, water color, and so many more have each their own unique traits and characteristics. It is these defining traits of the media that define the way the artworks need to be preserved and cared for. It is imperative to know and to respect the unique traits of each medium and accept it as a feature while caring to preserve it in the best possible way.


Oil paintings that came to prominence in the 1400s essentially consist of oil as a carrier with pigments suspended in it. These days cold pressed linseed oil is favored for its durability, quick drying property and because of its better resistance to yellowing as compared to other oils. However, in an effort to achieve different effects and styles and to vary the viscosity and consistency of the color, other kinds of oils are used too.


Know your oils There is a yellowing effect that comes naturally to the oil paintings, which cannot be avoided. This effect has to be accepted and has come to be an appreciated feature by art connoisseurs. There are higher chances for an oil painting to crack as compared to other media. On a hard material, the oil paints are bound to flake. Oil paintings take an entire year to dry completely and in this duration are most vulnerable to damage due to excess or lack of light. A professional coat of varnish applied after the painting has dried completely goes a long way to protect the oil painting. An oil painting that has been cared for in a proper manner can last for centuries. Like any other work of art, these need to be kept clean but deeper cleaning processes or any other interventions should be left to the professionals. Acrylic paints are emulsions that consist of acrylic polymer resins suspended in water. Quick drying and comparatively a new entrant in the field of art, Acrylics entered the market in the 1950s. Though the long term aging effects on this nascent medium are yet to be fully understood, it has been established that this medium is more receptive to dirt particles and grime when compared to oil paintings. It is a characteristic trait of acrylic paints that they dry quickly, but the surface remains flexible even as it dries completely. This trait makes the medium less susceptible to cracking but more vulnerable to dirt and grime. Due to the softness and flexibility of the surface of acrylic paintings, the grime and dust particles settle more easily and deeper into them and make them look a lot dirtier, a lot earlier. Know your acrylics Acrylic paintings are more light-sensitive due to the nature of additives. The paper backings in addition to being light-sensitive tend to become brittle too. For the display of acrylic paintings raking lights or ambient lights fitted with UV filters are recommended to be used. In case the acrylic work is not framed and protected by glass, it is important that the surface is never touched. Due to the flexibility of the surface, even fingerprints might cause irreversible damage.

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