Sarah Carnline

We have many art works bequeathed to the company that are still as vibrant and striking as the day they were first printed or painted, often very many years ago.

But there are many factors that ensure a long and happy life for an artwork! It starts of course with using the correct materials. This will include all those things we were told at art college but maybe could not afford at the time! Using the correct sealers and primers on canvas. Using dedicated printmaking papers. It also requires space to let paintings and prints dry in ambient daylight well ventilated conditions and not in the dark.

I’m sorry of this is sounding like an uninspiring check list but these are things the future owner of your artwork will expect from you the creator. But… don’t forget you pass on responsibility when you hand an artwork over.

Canvases are routinely rolled for transport and prints are sent through the post in map tubes but once thoroughly cured, all inks and paints possess only a limited amount of flexibility and if they are forever being folded and rolled, there is an increasing possibility of cracking. Prints and paintings like the ‘quiet life’ and apart from when expert cleaning requires it, they do not respond well to being regularly reframed or re-stretched and interfered with!

Even the most lightfast colours should not be exposed to regular sunlight. Varnish can turn yellow and colour and detail fade. Some printed colours will bloom or take on a bronzed oxidised appearance even if they do not fade and certain paint pigments can start chalking if exposed to UV light for long periods. Varnishes can embrittle and crack and severe sunlight damage can be irreversible. That’s why the words ‘keep out of direct sunlight’ need to be taken seriously!

Historically, the proudest place to hang a valued painting or print in the home was above the main fireplace. Aside from above the bath, there is probably no worse place for hanging than near open fires, radiators and heaters. Heat can lead to internal thermal tensions, expansions and contractions, moisture reductions, and chemical reactions.

Excessive heat can also damage the support of a painting and the printmaking paper causing creases, cracking and in worse circumstances it can cause bubbling or blistering.

Humid conditions are uncomfortable for us all and we have this in common with works of art! For some this will be a variable that is almost impossible to control, but even so, the best way to avoid humidity is to place paintings in dry rooms with minimal moisture in the air. This means that paintings should never be placed in a bathroom, near a kitchen sink, dishwashers or in sunrooms or patios. Mold and mildew can have a devastating effect on paintings and prints so don’t give these microbes a chance!

All in all, if you wouldn’t like to spend a week in certain conditions, then it’s highly likely that your painting or print won’t either.

We could have saved 500 words by just printing that simple truth!