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Conservation practices when creating art

Posted on 26 October, 2016 at 1:15

Today I want to talk about a few different considerations that artists have if they want to sell their art and have it last. 

Lately I have been talking to Erin from Artis Pura about stretched canvases that we buy from art supply stores and where they are mass produced, the materials that go into the frame, it's construction and the grade of canvas. 

I had a look at Erin's wall of shame where there were frames that were less than 6 months old that were warped and unable to be restrectched. There were acid spots that went through paper, matt board and foam core backing that were only a few years old. So many examples of shoddy manufacturing and framing practices that it made my toes curl. 

So here's some tips for those of you that:


  1. want to sell your work and have it last
  2. are having your works framed to last or to sell
  3. are painting on stretched canvas and/or canvas board/wood

want to sell your work and have it last longer than 5 years?


  1. make sure you use artist quality materials
  2. lightfast paints, pencils, pastels, inks, watercolours
  3. non corrosive glues and adhesives
  4. a good quality substrate, 100% cotton rag paper, quality canvas, boards that are structurally sound. It's a bad idea to paint on cardboard, recycled items that are designed to break down quickly. 
  5. frame your works in cotton rag matt board so that the lignen and acid do not affect your paintings
  6. varnish your finished works that are not framed behind glass. But, make sure you don't do this until the paint has fully cured. Paint drying times can vary wildly depening on the mediums used, the atmoshperic conditions and the substrate used. For a good article on acrylic paint drying times click here.
  7. Use good quality mediums that don't yellow over time, for notes on mediums in the golden range click here.
  8. Be aware that what could be an expensive pre stretched canvas, will potentially warp over time so adding strainers or stretcher bars and bracings to the back of the canvas can be expensive. Sometimes it's better to think about possible changing your substrate to something more durable that is dearer in the short term but cheaper in the long term. This could mean getting your canvas in roles and having it stretched properly before hand. Dearer yes but better long term if your framer is good in this area as mine is. 
This is the end of the first installment of this series, next time I will be talking about products that I use and don't use for the longevity of my work. 


Categories: Paintings