Canvas Paintings Conservation
A. General Problems
- Missing parts of the medium, smudges, broken or turn surface
- Stains of food, cosmetics, smoke, fingerprints, dust, household chemicals used for cleaning
- Presence of direct light, excessive heat and humidity
- Pest infested room and poor storage
- Decide about the destination of the work before moving it.
- Get additional help if the art work is of larger size.
- Always wear gloves before handling the painting.
- Be careful while moving other things while you are near the paintings. The things may scratch the surface of the medium.
- Don’t keep the art works in narrow and congested space.
- Be sure that the painting is properly packed using quality material.
- Don’t leave the art works packed for long period.
- Ensure that the room is not dusty.
- It should not be too hot or damp.
- Be sure the wall is not damp.
- There should not be direct sunlight on the wall.
- Ensure that the canvas is properly framed so that it will hold for longer period of time.
- Some space should be left between the framed canvas and the wall so that the canvas does not accumulate dust and absorb moisture. You can insert small wooden blocks in the blank space.
- Check that the string used for hanging canvas is strong enough.
- Avoid direct sunlight on the canvas.
- Don’t use strong artificial light for extended period because the heat produced from the light may damage the surface medium of the painting.
- Place light at minimum of 10 feet from the canvas so that the heat may not affect the surface.
- Ensure that the light is of approximately 200 lux. You can use camera’s light meter to measure the light level.
- Use soft brush to remove dust. Be careful that you should not use duster or feather because their fibers may attach to the surface of the canvas.
- Don’t attempt to dust the surface if it is broken, damaged or flaking.
- Don’t attempt to repair the damage yourself because it may be further damaged. Only the qualified conservators can carry out the repairing task successfully.
- Generally the stretcher that supports the canvas is of squire or rectangular shape. The stretcher should have centre support as well if the canvas is of larger size.
- Be sure about the reliability of the frame material. Nowadays fiber frames are available in the market, which appear like wooden ones. But they may not be as strong as wooden frames. But fiber frames may be safer because they are not attacked by the pests.
- Select cool, dry and ventilated space for storage.
- The frequent fluctuation of temperature and humidity should be minimized so that the environment remains stable. The art work sustains for longer period in stable environment.
- Ensure that the store room is free of pests like cockroaches, beetles, moths, worms and rats.
- Don’t keep food in the place where paintings are stored. The food attracts the pests.
- Inspect the packed paintings to protect from pests, humidity and heat.
G. Packing Materials
The materials that are used to pack paintings for storage may affect the durability of the works. You are advised to use inert materials for packing because they do not deteriorate for longer period of time. Wrap the paintings on canvas in unbleached muslin instead of plastic, for such muslin allows the painting to breathe. While packing storing the art works, ensure that both physical damage and exposure to fluctuations of temperature and humidity are minimized.
H. What Causes Damage?
- Fire or excessive heat
- Dampness, excessive moisture and leaking water in storage space
- Direct physical force can result into smudges and tears
- Smoke, pollutants and other contaminants
- Radiation from direct sunlight, ultraviolet rays and infra-red light waves
- Insects and other pests
- Negligence while handling, packing and storing