Caring for Your Painting

How should you care for your painting after conservation treatment? Here are some important points to consider when you take your artwork home to enjoy.

V-shaped hangers are available in a variety of weight capacity ratings and are safe for most artworks. Very heavy works or works hung on stone or masonry surfaces require special consideration – seek advice. Security hardware (not shown) is available for locations where theft is an identified risk.

Secure Hanging
Both the hardware in the wall and in the back of the painting must be secure. Never use nails in place of picture hangers; works can easily be knocked off of nails, which can also tilt down or pull out of the wall. Two picture hangers of an appropriate weight rating for your picture should be used to distribute the picture’s weight and lessen shifting off kilter.

Helping Hands
Carry a painting with the image side facing you, and grasp both sides firmly rather than dangling the work from the top edge in one hand. Obtain assistance if the work is too large or heavy to move comfortably on your own.

Location, Location
Carefully consider hanging location. Place the work in a location and at a height where it is unlikely to be accidentally contacted. A large painting placed beside a dining table, for example, invites accidental damage as chairs are moved back for that glass of port after dinner.

Storing paintings
Pictures are often more vulnerable while they are off the wall. If you lean the work against another surface before re-hanging, take precautions to ensure it does not slip or get knocked over. Your paintings should be removed from any area where renovation work is undertaken (it is not unusual to find wall paint spatter on the surface of painting!) The back surface of a painting on canvas is particularly vulnerable, partly because one is naturally less aware of this side. For this and other reasons, I attach rigid backing boards as a standard procedure to all works treated in my studio.

Picture lights
Picture lights fastened at the top of the picture frame are not recommended. A light source placed so close to the picture’s surface will be uneven, excessive and, depending on the lamp type, may be dangerous – excess heat and light. Fastened lights appear to be in vogue again, having a certain nostalgiac look, but notice that you will not see them used in a museum or professional art gallery.

General lighting
Avoid direct, strong light and heat sources, and be aware of the significant heat released by incandescent light sources. Fluorescent lights emit significant ultraviolet radiation but may be filtered for the benefit of both human and painting. Soft, low, indirect, ambient lighting is best. If you have more artworks than wall space, consider a rotating display, which has the added benefit of mitigating light-induced damage.