How to Care for your Oil Painting

written by Sophie | Oil Painting



Once you made that decision to purchase or commission an oil painting (from me or any other painter of course) it might help to just check how to take care of it. To enjoy your painting for a long time here are a few pointers.

1. Never lean the front or back surface of a stretched canvas on a pointed or sharp object, no matter how small. Corners of chairs and tables must be avoided. If you lean the canvas against it, it will leave a dent that will disfigure your work. If you must lean it against something, lean it on the wood of its stretcher bars or the frame, so that nothing presses against the canvas.

2. You might want to dust your painting regularly, so that a thick layer of dust does not build up which will dry out the paint and possibly result in cracking and peeling. Do not spray anything (like Pledge) on the work. Never clean it yourself. Only dust with a light brush. Cloths and feather dusters might catch so it is better not to use those. Do not use chemicals or household cleaning products. Do not use water or damp cloths.

3. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will fade the colours in your oil painting. Please be aware of this when choosing a location for it. Never expose your painting to extreme heat, extreme cold, or to extreme humidity. Never hang in direct sunlight. Never hang directly over fires, radiators, heaters, in bathrooms, kitchens or around a swimming pool. Do not use picture lights attached very close to the painting (as some light bulbs will get very hot). Do not keep in a damp room as it encourages mould and mildew. Check your painting regularly (at the back) for any pests or insects.

4. If you must transport the work, lay a flat piece of cardboard, mat board or similar firm material over the front and back surfaces, and then wrap it in bubble wrap or Styrofoam wrap. Keep bubble wrap away from the painting surface as it could leave marks. Always keep a painting upright and never lay it flat. Be careful of the frame corners as they are easily damaged. Carry a painting with two hands from the sides of the frame, never just by the top.

5. If you are unsure about the frame around the painting, ask the gallery or the artist whether you can purchase it without its frame. This is usually possible. If ever you decide to reframe your oil painting, take it to a reputable framer who has obvious experience and fine art framing. Consider the archival options on offer, such as archival boards and UV glazing. Try modern and traditional frames and see which you prefer. Often different styles can go equally well with a painting.

6. Make sure the painting is hanging securely and safely. Make note of the weight of the painting and use suitably heavy screws and hooks. Ask a framer for advice if you are not sure.

7. Don’t hang your art work too high or too low. Remember you want to enjoy looking at it and hang it at a good eye level.  A recommended height is 156cm from the floor to the middle of the picture, depending on your own height and wall space.

8. Please note that the artist will always retain copyright in the painting. This means that nobody but the artist can copy, reproduce or photograph the work for distribution or commercial gain without the prior consent of the artist.

I hope you will enjoy your painting!
Pss…now you are here anyway, why not browse my work for a bit? Who knows, you might fall in love.

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  1. Hello, my name is Beverly. I was reading your article about oil painting and how to clean. You recommended using a light brush. What kind of light brush do you recommend.

    Thank you

    Beverly Harmon

  2. Great info . Ive only been oil painting for a year . So As a beginning artist, this is very helpful , and good to know as I finish more and more paintings how to care for them . Thank you

  3. I like how you mentioned keeping bubble wrap away from any painting surfaces. My sister is a painter and wants to transport some of her paintings since she is moving at the end of the month. I’ll be sure to share this with her so she knows what to do when she is moving.

    1. Great! So glad you found it useful. I’ve heard too many stories (and experienced it myself) of bubble wrap ruining paintings…. 🙁 Thanks for commenting!

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