Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to Care for Paintings on Paper

I subscribe to ARTtalk ArtPourri Tips, and they had a wonderful article about how to take care of paintings created on paper. As an artist, paper is one of my favorite painting surfaces because of the surprises and versatility of the fibers. It can be challenging to care for and frame a painting on paper, so here is how:

Artwork Preservation: Protecting Works on Paper
For original posting of this article, please click this sentence or search ARTtalk Art PourriTips.

It is a most unfortunate fact that the ultraviolet light produced by any light source can cause a slow, steady decline in the color, vibrancy, intensity and overall appeal of artworks created on paper. While oil and acrylic paints might change colors very slowly, works on paper done in watercolor, for instance, fade at a rate that is in direct relationship to the quantity and brightness of light exposure.

If you expose a watercolor painting done on any professional quality paper (acid-free, archival) to a bright, intense light source, you will see that the colors begin to change and fade very quickly. Since very few of us choose to display our artworks in a strong light, the damage created by the ultraviolet spectrum of the light is usually unnoticed. Because the fading and color changes occur over a long period of time, we tend to grow accustomed to the diminished colors and tones.

There are several ways you can work to protect your paper artworks. It is well known that art that is not on display should be stored properly. This usually means an acid-free, archival folder or print box. But, when it comes time to frame and display these artworks, consider selecting a type of glazing that offers protection.

At this time we are fortunate to have several types of glass that restrict the penetration of ultraviolet light. Common clear glass offers limited protection but is much better than forgoing the use of glass altogether.

Non-glare glass is the next step up the protection ladder and offers approximately 44% blockage of ultraviolet light. It is created by subjecting clear glass to an acid dip, causing a slight frost on the glass. Modern non-glare glass is etched on one side only. This one-side treatment eliminates most of the image and detail softening qualities of old fashioned non-glare glass (etched on both sides).

Conservation glass is very special in that it takes a product similar to either clear or non-glare glass to a new level. Conservation glass is coated on the artwork side of the glass and effectively blocks 98% of the ultraviolet penetration. It reflects back the UV with the coating and prevents nearly all UV damage to artworks on paper. Conservation comes in the same two qualities of glass: clear and non-glare. Cost is higher than traditional clear and non-glare, but the degree of protection is over doubled.

The last type of glass that is available is museum glass, which offers both a nearly reflection-free surface and a very high degree of UV protection. This choice would be best for original works or very costly, collectable items on paper.

Acrylic sheeting is a choice preferred by many photographers because it does not cause any tonal changes in the photographs. Because of the silica content, some glass products do have a “color.” Acrylic sheeting is unbreakable and comes in clear and non-glare. Some manufacturers offer a very high grade of material, which offers moderate protection from UV.

In summary, consider the ground upon which your artwork is created. Coat oil paintings with special products created to help block UV and to preserve the luminescence and shimmer of the paintings. But for paper art, use the glazing material that best suits your application and budget. And remember, art that is displayed can be enjoyed every day. It makes a house a home and shares your style with family and guests.

I hope this article helps those that own paintings and other art work on paper. If you have further questions, please leave a comment.

Angeline Marie of
Angeline Marie Fine Art

PS: At the time of this blog post, there are two 1st and 2nd generation paintings listed on eBay for clearance sale painted by me. Please share if you enjoy the listings. Thanks!

Click on the title of interest:
Cat in Sunlight Original Art Painting

Apple, Bowl, Wine Original Art Painting

To keep up with what is posted in my eBay account, please search for seller artistangeline or just click on my user name.


Joe Hendry Original Art said...

Angeline Marie, this is fantastic, thank you. I get asked questions about this from customers from time to time and online, I have quite often found conflicting information. Sometimes, it's jsut not good enough to tell a customer, "don't hang your art in direct sunlight", because that may be where it looks best.

Best Regards


Angeline-Marie said...

Joe: You are most welcome! I agree that it is not enough to tell customers "avoid direct sunlight and touching the paper to glass." Most frame shops do not worry about being archival...at least this gives a lot of information in one place. =)

Jason L. Eldridge said...

Thanks for the information! It also applies to any type of photography. Now, there are so many different papers out there but the result of placing the photos in direct light is the same... Even the archival ink and paper cannot stand up to this for long periods of time. Great advise for anyone wanting to keep their art work as if it was just created/purchased. Thanks for the detail of this article!

Angeline-Marie said...

Yes, it does apply to photography, too.
Living in a townhouse, sometimes direct sunlight is difficult to avoid. At least the article has some ways to counter the direct light.

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