How to Restore Oil Painting on Canvas

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How to Restore Oil Painting on Canvas

There is nothing more disappointing then finding a great oil painting only to find there are is damage or imperfections on the canvas. Restoring an oil painting not only adds aesthetic value, but can also restore the monetary value of the work. It is important to acknowledge when an oil painting is out of one's skill level to restore or else cause irreparable damage. When the task is too large to undertake there is a vast network of art restorers that are available to get a painting back into admirable shape. Restoration supplies, like brushes and paint thinner, are available at most DIY shops and online through retail sites like eBay.

Evaluating an Oil Painting

Before heading out to buy supplies for restoring an oil painting, it is very important to evaluate the value and extent of repair of the oil painting. If the oil painting is a personal or family heirloom, then it is most likely it is only has sentimental value. If in doubt about the value of a painting though, it is best to contact a professional auctioneer or art collector to determine the next step. The British Association of Paintings Conservators (BAPCR) is a good place to start to find an accredited list of restorers in the UK. Auctioneers are likely to charge an appraisal fee, but if the oil painting needs professional restoration, they can direct you to accredited restorer.

Cleaning an Oil Painting

If it is determined the oil painting's restoration is within one's skill set, then restoration may begin. As with any work of art, oil paintings are prone to become dusty and even dirty, which is damaging to the integrity of the paint. Some gentle cleaning is a great way to restore an oil painting without causing any permanent changes to the actual painting. In order to clean an oil painting art enthusiasts are encouraged to use a high quality paint brush or other brush to remove any dust or other particulates. A smaller brush is ideal for getting into the edges of the painting if framed or other small crevices created by brushstrokes. After removing the debris, buyers softly wipe the surface clean with a flannel cloth or other soft cloth.

Restoring an Oil Painting

To start a restoration, one needs to take photos of the painting beforehand. This is essential to have a before image or to make any corrections. Close-up shots are to capture detailed areas of the painting. When restoring an oil painting, keeping a neutraliser stops the use of any other chemical. An emulsion cleaner is also good for cleaning any dust, dirt, or smoke from the painting, while varnish remover literally removes the yellowed or cracked varnish.

Make sure to start in a corner of the painting when using the varnish remover or emulsion cleaner to test their efficacy. Once one chooses which method is more effective, the cleaning agent is delicately applied on the rest of the painting using a cotton swab in a rolling motion. It is important to not press too hard on the canvas to avoid stretching it or warping the paint underneath. It is best to work on seven to 10 cm areas at a time, and then spray the area with the neutraliser after each section. Patience is the key to a successful oil painting restoration so it best to work slowly and in a well ventilated area since the whole restoration might take many hours depending on the canvas size.

When all the debris and old varnish is removed, one needs to re-varnish the oil painting with a gloss varnish to preserve and protect the painting. After the restoration is complete, take another photograph of the oil painting to get a good comparison image.

How to Buy Restoration Supplies

The cost of oil painting restoration supplies can quickly add up, but by browsing the selection and deals on eBay you can keep to your budget. By entering a keyword like "varnish remover" into the Search bar yields all the associated listings that can be narrowed down by clicking on any of the filters in the sidebar. It is very important to read product descriptions to make sure you are buying the right product for painting restoration. If in doubt, feel free to contact the seller using eBay's message system. Restoring an old painting requires a lot of meticulous work, but by using care and the proper cleaning materials, one can enjoy the painting for many more years to come.

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