Happy February! New painting & poetry workshops for March, May, & June have just been launched. Click here to explore the options.

Caring For Your Artwork

Once you've purchased an original painting from one of your favorite artists, it's important to learn how to care for it properly in order to maximize its longevity and keep its colors crisp and bright. Caring for your artwork is a way you can contribute to ensuring a long future for the pieces that move you, and it's a big part of being a competent art collector. Thankfully, looking after your paintings is simple enough once you understand the factors involved, and really doesn't have be an overwhelming or a dreaded task! To help demystify the process for you, I've compiled a few helpful tips and some links to a couple of resources I personally use. And just in case you ever end up giving one of my paintings a home, I've included specific information about how to care for paintings made with the mediums and surfaces I use.

Caring For Varnished Gouache & Acryla Gouache Paintings

My studio gouache pieces mounted on wooden panels come treated with a three-step varnishing process consisting of a spray varnish suitable for water-based media, an isolation coat, and two coats of UV-resistant gloss varnish. The varnish makes these paintings much hardier than their unvarnished counterparts. Should they gather dust, they can be gently wiped with a clean damp cloth and displayed without a protective glass layer. However, even thoroughly-dry varnish can still be a bit sticky—especially in warm or humid climates—and if left resting against your painting for long, just about anything from cloth to paper to plastic can stick to the surface and/or leave a disruptive impression on the varnish. This is why I insert a layer of silicone release paper next to my paintings before wrapping them in bubble roll for shipping, and it’s why you should avoid wrapping varnished paintings for storage or rest anything on top of them. Paintings are meant to be hung, and the best place for them is on your wall. However, if you do need to store an original varnished painting for any reason, I highly recommend purchasing an archival storage box for this purpose. Archival storage boxes are acid-free and designed to keep your paintings protected from the elements without putting them in contact with anything that might damage them. When not on display in an art show, I keep all my unsold paintings in these archival storage boxes from Blick. 

Caring For Gouache and/or Watercolor Sketches 

Gouache and watercolor are both water-based mediums. This means that any direct exposure to water will cause these paints to reactivate, resulting in smears and general ruination. While my studio gouache pieces—the ones mounted on wooden panels—are protected from moisture with many coats of UV-resistant varnish, the little gouache and watercolor sketches I make on small sheets of loose paper come unvarnished and should be displayed behind glass or plastic for best results. Although corrugated cardboard can provide a suitable rigid backing for shipping original artwork on paper, cardboard has a high acid content and you should never store artwork next to cardboard on a long-term basis since that acid can cause yellowing, brittleness and other forms of untimely deterioration. If your painting arrives reinforced with cardboard backing, be sure not to settle it in for long-term storage without first slipping this backing out of the poly bag it comes in.

Caring For Fine Art Prints 

All my fine art prints are museum-quality and made with archival certified light-fast inks. In order to ensure the vibrant colors you receive last a lifetime, protect your prints from moisture, UV light, and airborne contaminants by displaying them behind UV glass or storing them in an acid-free archival box. Avoid touching the surface of your prints with bare hands since moisture and oil from your skin can affect the image quality. While corrugated cardboard can provide a suitable rigid backing for shipping fine art prints, cardboard has a high acid content and you should never store your prints next to cardboard on a long-term basis since that acid can cause yellowing, brittleness and other forms of untimely deterioration. So again, it your print arrives reinforced with cardboard backing, be sure not to settle it in for long-term storage without first slipping this backing out of the poly bag it comes in.