Have no idea how to protect the beautiful acrylic paint you received as a birthday present? Wondering how to frame and frame your new watercolor? Here’s a helpful guide on how to care for your precious artwork, no matter what medium it was created in.
Special care for different types of media
. Charcoal, Pencil, Colored pencil, Crayon drawings
. Ink drawings
. Digital art
Always be very careful when handling artwork. Never touch the surface of the artwork with your bare fingers, as the natural oils, acids and salts from your skin can transfer to the artwork and cause permanent damage. If you must touch art, wear cotton gloves.
Artwork not displayed should be stored in a clean, dry, dark, and well-ventilated area at moderate temperatures and humidity levels that do not fluctuate greatly. Avoid storage in basements, attics, or garages, as extreme temperatures and humidity can damage the artwork.
Store unframed artwork with acid-free paper between each item or store individual items in archival quality envelopes.
Avoid storing artwork between cartons as it is very acidic and can damage artwork over time.
Store artwork created with charcoal, pastels, pencil, or crayon between glass to avoid rubbing and damaging the delicate artwork. Preferably cover the item with an acid-free mat first and then cover it with glass to protect the artwork from any contact with its surface.
Never store unframed artwork in shipping tubes for an extended period of time. Remove the art as soon as possible and lay it flat until you are ready to frame it. If a painting has been stored in a tube for a long time, consult a professional who will use the utmost care and experience to unwind and relax the artwork to avoid possible cracks and damage.
Never store framed artwork directly on the floor. Instead, place the artwork on blocks or shelves.
Never leave artwork in your car for long periods of time. Carry artwork framed by the sides and avoid leaning the canvas against anything that could damage the surface.
Roll prints carefully and insert into sturdy shipping tubes. Remove the artwork and unroll as soon as possible after transportation to avoid permanent damage.
Have your artwork matted with an acid-free carpet board. Poor quality mats can damage art over time due to chemicals on the board that can transfer to the artwork. The same is true for backing up your art with cardboard, which also has chemicals that can cause discoloration.
Never use rubber cement or white glue to adhere art to a surface as it can damage your precious artwork.
Art created in ink, pencil, pastels, or charcoal should be framed under glass. You can use Plexiglass only for pencil or ink drawings, as any pastel or charcoal artwork can be damaged by the build-up of electrostatic charge emitted by Plexiglass and similar plastics.
Be sure to completely seal the back seams of the frame and backing with acid-free tape.
To further protect your print from harmful UV rays, you can ask your framer to use glare-free glass with a UV protective coating to cover the artwork on the frame.
The frame you choose should be slightly larger than your artwork. Moisture can cause the paper to contract or expand and the extra space between the frame and the artwork will allow for these changes without damaging the artwork.
Never frame a work of art without also using a carpet board between the work and the frame. Wood can contain moisture that can be transferred to the artwork. If you prefer, you can use an acid-free frame gap instead of a mat. Check with your art store to see what’s available.
Also, if you have a glass insert to protect the artwork, be sure to add a mat to prevent the artwork from sticking to the glass over time.
Since almost all lamination materials have UV inhibitors, it makes sense to consider this option to protect your prints, photos, and digital art, as well as other works of art like delicate pastels and charcoals.
Check with a photo shop to make sure this process will not damage the artwork you are considering laminating.
Take your print or photo to a photo shop to have it professionally laminated to a base, or use a laminating machine if you prefer to use a frame.
A laminating machine that uses a heat process will protect the print more than a machine that uses cold lamination. Beware of low-end laminators with fluctuating temperatures that can result in bubbles between the print and the plastic, incomplete lamination, or variations in the thickness of the plastic.
For added protection, laminated bags are also available with UV resistance to protect against fading.
If you are using low-quality photo paper for your digital prints, be sure to test a sample print on your laminator as it could stain the photo.
Careful planning of where your artwork will hang should extend its lifespan considerably.
Humidity, extreme fluctuating temperatures, direct sunlight, bright light, vents, and fireplaces can damage your prior art. Avoid contact with fluorescent lighting that emits harmful high-energy rays that can deteriorate the artwork.
Hanging art on exterior walls can subject you to fluctuations in temperature and humidity in climates where temperatures vary greatly with the seasons. Avoid hanging artwork in kitchens or bathrooms for this very reason.
Attach small pieces of cork to the back of the frame to prevent mold from forming, allowing air to circulate behind your framed art.
Never use clip lights on frames. The area of the artwork exposed to this “hot spot” will cause dryness and damage over time.
Stretch canvas bars can expand and contract with fluctuations in temperature. This can cause the canvas to warp and / or crack the paint. A professional can correct this problem and save the artwork.
Dust the frames regularly and inspect for signs of mold or insects. Make sure all hangers and items used to secure the frame are still in good condition.
Never use commercial products to clean your nude artwork. Use a feather duster to dislodge dust particles from the surface. Cloth material may leave behind lint.
To clean the picture glass that protects your artwork, never spray cleaner directly on the glass. Instead, spray your cleaning cloth and then wipe the glass to prevent the cleaner from running and seeping between the glass and the frame and damaging the art. Avoid using an ammonia cleaner.
Use a cleaner specifically designed for Plexiglass or similar materials such as acrylic, or use a damp soft cloth and gently wipe stains to avoid scratches.
You may need a professional to clean your artwork if you notice changes in color and dullness from contact with smoke, whether from cigarettes, heavy candle use, or if the artwork was subject to damage from smoke from a fire. Consult your professional if you notice any signs of mold or insects.
Special care for different types of media
It should not be framed under glass, acrylics are quite sturdy and can survive in various lighting conditions. Dusting the surface lightly will prevent any build-up. Be careful when shipping acrylics in winter, as extremely cold temperatures can cause cracking. You will have the same problem storing your acrylics in unheated attics, basements, or sheds if you live in areas that experience very cold winters.
Neither to frame under glass, since these have to “breathe”. Direct sunlight will fade the oils over time. Choose your location with this in mind.
Be sure to dust frequently, as the build-up can crack and peel the paint. Never spray commercial cleaners on your paint. If the colors appear dull after a while, you can have your painting varnished at your art store to refresh the colors and protect the surface from possible cracks.
Transport your painting carefully wrapped in cardboard and protected with bubble wrap. Avoid leaving the artwork in the packaging too long, as moisture can form and damage your painting.
Frame watercolors behind glass. Colors may fade if fragile watercolors are exposed to strong lighting conditions.
Oil pastels and chalk pastels
Cakes are very delicate and must be handled with great care. Framing under glass as soon as possible is a must to protect the surface that is easily damaged. Full sun can fade colors, but they can survive strong light or indirect sunlight. Never touch the surface of the artwork or put anything on its surface to avoid staining.
Charcoal, pencil, colored pencil, crayon drawings
They are as fragile as cakes; therefore, they must be handled and protected in the same way. Do not touch the delicate surface of these drawings.
Also very sensitive to light, fades quickly in direct sunlight. Frame under glass with UV protection.
Avoid touching the surface of your digital art. Mount your artwork behind UV-protected glass to reduce fading. Make sure the artwork is dry before doing this. An acid-free mat inserted between the artwork and the frame will prevent the artwork from sticking to the glass. Aluminum frames should be considered as moisture does not affect them and will not carry over to your prints. Make sure to keep your fingerprints away from excessive heat for long periods of time, high humidity, direct sunlight, and extreme temperature fluctuations.
Taking special care of your precious work of art today will ensure many years of enjoyment to come.