Artwork Care, Positioning and Framing Instructions
Watercolour, Gouaches and Pastels (and Prints)
Art created on paper, be it watercolour, gouache, pastel, ink or any other media, requires a bit more specific care so that you can preserve properly.
- Keep your artwork out of direct sunlight. Colours WILL fade under direct sunlight and paper can warp if exposed to extreme heat or sunlight over long periods of time. Over time paper can become brittle and reach a point where it simply crumbles to the touch.
- For maximum protection, frame under non-glare glass, treated with a coating to protect the work from UV sunlight. This not only protects your artwork from sunlight, the non-glare glass makes it easier to see the artwork surface when it is displayed. At a minimum, your water media art should be framed under regular glass. Plexiglass does not offer enough protection, could create a static layer that would draw your pastels to it and may contain acids that would affect any art.
- The mat and backing of your frame should be made of acid free paper and finished with acid free tape. This is to avoid any moisture reaching your painting and damaging it.
Oil, Acrylics and other varnished artwork
- Direct sunlight is to be avoided in all scenario. The piece may be varnished or waxed (for some gouache pieces on canvas) but it is still possible for it to crack or fade if subjected to bright sunlight for long periods of time.
- Dust your artworks with a clean, soft rag occasionally to prevent dust buildup. Don't use cleaning products!
- To prevent damage, cardboard pieces, bubble wrap and sturdy boxes should be used if the art needs to be transported in a move.
- If your artwork does get damaged, don't fix it yourself. Take it to the place of purchase for a referral or look up a qualified conservator on your own. Amateur repairs can reduce the value of your artwork drastically.
- Do not frame artworks on canvas under glass, because canvas needs to breathe, if it is framed under glass you may trap moisture inside the frame. Canvases experience small, subtle shifts over time due to mild atmospheric changes, so it is best to leave them without glass to allow them to flow with these slight changes.
- Do not cover artworks with plastic for long periods of time. If there is humidity in the air, they may start to grow mold. Cotton sheets are best for keeping dust away.
- Check the condition of your artworks periodically. Many people put up their artwork and forget about it, until they notice that it has been damaged. If your artwork is fading or cracking, a brief peek at it can prompt you to move it to a better place and avoid damaging it further.
Positioning your artwork
First, you need to decide where your artwork is going to take up residence in your home. Whether you’ve already got a spot in mind, or you’re weighing up the options, it’s worth giving some thought to the following:
1. Direct sunlight
Artworks don’t fare well when placed in bright sunlight. Watercolours and other works on paper are particularly prone to colour bleaching or surface degradation when placed in direct sunlight, but even hardier pigments in oils or acrylics will fade over time.
Where possible, try to hang your artworks in shadier spots (or if you really can’t avoid hanging your pieces in a sunny corner, chat to a specialist framer about placing your artworks behind UV-protected glass).
2. Temperature changes
Frequent or large changes in temperature can be damaging to artworks, as can high levels of humidity or damp. When selecting where to hang your new artworks, consider how the requirements of the medium match up with the room in which you’re placing it.
Likewise, in kitchens or rooms with open fires or radiators, bear in mind that strong sources of heat can cause warping or discolouration to some mediums.
We love the idea of having art in the bathroom, but bear in mind that works on paper or those with delicate surfaces may not fare well. Good ventilation is a must to avoid mildew and surface damage, and we’d recommend chatting to a framer about how best to protect your artworks by properly sealing the frames to prevent moisture getting in.
4. Accidental bumps
It may sound obvious, but make sure fragile sculptures or ceramic works are displayed in secure, safe spaces out of the way of household traffic. If you have small children or lively pets, consider a display cabinet for intricate items to offer an extra level of protection and peace of mind. Unframed artwork on canvas can also be susceptible to dents, scratches or rips, consider carefully the potential impacts when choosing a location.
Hanging your artwork
Now that you’ve earmarked the perfect spot for your new artwork, it’s time to dust off the tool box and get it up on the wall.
1. Check the provided fixtures
Examine the fixing on the back of the artwork to determine the best way to attach it to the wall. Most framed pieces will have a picture wire secured to the back, whereas paintings on box canvases may just have a cross bar to hang from. If you’re unsure about the best way to hang your piece, chat to a framer or a gallerist for some suggestions.
Consider the weight of the work and the strength of the wall on which it will be hung. Most moderately sized pieces can be hung from two nails or screws, or a traditional picture hook. However particularly large or heavy works (or pieces going on to particularly weak or crumbly walls) may need more substantial fixings. Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry – chat to your framer if you’re unsure, or for particularly tricky pieces consider hiring a handyman to assist you.