Gregory Miller, Negosentro | Just like all types of art, you need to know several pertinent facts in order to preserve fine art paintings properly. This article speaks about some of the important characteristics of oil and acrylic paintings – the two most common types of collectors’ paintings. In fact, acrylic and oil paintings are most often damaged by improper storage, display in rooms with temperature and humidity fluctuation, overexposure to sunlight and presence of dirt and dust – all are related to maintenance practices.
The thing about properly caring for your paintings is that you should protect them from sudden environmental changes as much as you can. Commonly accepted room conditions are as follows:
- Winter – temperature 18-21 °C (65-70 °F) and 40-45% relative humidity
- Summer – 21-24 °C (70-75 °F) and 45-55% humidity
Caring for oil paintings
Oil paintings became common in the 15th century; today commonly uses cold-pressed linseed oil which is a fairly durable carrier that dries quickly and is less prone to yellowing. Other oils may also be used for different effects. When caring for oil paintings, the following points should be borne in mind:
- Oil paintings are prone to yellowing in time – this is unavoidable, and can even be considered an attractive quality
- They are more prone to cracking compared with other kinds of paint
- The hardness of the background can cause flaking of the painting
- Oil paintings needs as much as a whole year before completely dry. Paintings that aren’t properly dry are sensitive to light exposure
- Once the painting is completely dry, a layer of varnish may be applied to protect the surface. This should only be done by a professional
With proper care, your oil painting can last for centuries. They should be kept in dust and dirt-free environments, but deep cleaning and maintenance should only be done by professional fine art handlers.
Caring for acrylic paintings
Acrylic paintings are made of emulsions of acrylic polymer resins suspended in water. Acrylic paint dries faster, and the paint has been in the market for less than a century. This means that its long-term aging/degrading effects have not been fully understood. As such, you must pay more attention to preventative maintenance.
Here are some factors to bear in mind:
- Acrylic-painted surfaces are more likely to retain and buildup dirt and dust compared with oil-painted surfaces
- Acrylic paintings are faster-drying, but their surfaces are softer/more flexible than oil paintings. As such, they are less prone to cracking
- The best protection for acrylic paintings is framing in glass. Only it’s crucial to ensure that the glass doesn’t touch the acrylic surface. Varnishing doesn’t work effectively for acrylic
- Acrylic paintings are more light-sensitive because of additives within the acrylic paint emulsion (preservatives, stabilizers etc.)
- Paper backgrounds for acrylic paintings are light-sensitive and get more brittle with time. careful handling is essential
- Avoid touching the surface of the painting if it is most protected by a frame or glass. The acrylic polymer remains soft and therefore can be permanently damaged by something as light as a fingerprint