Smoke, dust and grime can all make a significant impression on a painting’s brilliance. This wonderful oil painting shows major discoloration due to the said reasons above. Although you may not smoke there is a lot of dust and grime that builds up on paintings over a period of time so having your artwork cleaned is the best way to bring back it’s original look. Many of our clients may bring in a painting for other reasons than for a cleaning, but once they see the difference in color and depth after a cleaning test, they realize the importance of this service.
The first step our conservators take when working with a dirty painting is a cleaning test. This is done to test what is on the surface of the painting. This is usually done with water only, depending on the varnish and reason for its dirtiness. If the varnish on a painting is discolored due to dirt or dust then water can easily remove the dull grimy look, but if the painting is discolored due to smoke then a solvent, such as acetone, may need to be used. It takes a lot of time, schooling and experience to spot the different varnishes and to understand the capabilities of various solvents. We advise that you do not try to clean a painting yourself but to bring it in to a professional for advise or help.
As shown in the image above cleaning a painting can dramatically improve the tonality. When dirty, colors such as whites turn yellow or brown, crisp blues turn a muddy green and purples can turn to a brownish color. This can result in a loss of depth of field and contrast. So as you can see having your artwork cleaned is very ideal in maintaining the brilliance and beauty of your favorite masterpiece.
Questions about conservation/restoration? Call us toll free at 888-704-7757
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Questions about art and antique appraisals? Call Richard at (805) 895-5121
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Also see: www.tipsforartcollectors.org
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