Portrait Care

[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]PORTRAIT CARE TIPS: Oils | Pastels – Care and Shipping below

These tips will protect your oil painting and keep it in great condition for decades:

Oil paints are usually dry to the touch within one to two weeks but take up to a year to fully cure. Paintings that have not cured are more susceptible to damage because the paint is softer. If the painting is newly finished, be especially careful not to touch the surface, as it may damage the paint.

• Be sure your oil paintings are properly framed. While you may be used to framing artwork under glass, oil paintings should be framed without glass. While glass will protect from dust, it makes the painting harder to appreciate and can even damage the delicate surface, especially if in direct contact.

• Protect your oil paintings from environmental damage. Many of us have seen before and after images of oil paintings that have been cleaned, and can see the harm done by smoke and air pollution. Limit any smoking near oil paintings, and limit the use of candles and incense. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will fade the colors in your oil painting. Please be aware of this when choosing a location for your art.

• Never expose your painting to extreme heat, extreme cold, or to extreme humidity.
• Dust your oil paintings. A thick layer of dust will dry out the paint, possibly causing cracking. Don’t spray anything (like Pledge) on the painting. A soft, clean brush, like a paintbrush, may be used to dust paintings. You can also keep artwork dust free by using a low power vacuum with a hose and brush attachment. If a painting is severely dirty, warm water with a small amount of mild detergent may be used. Using a clean, soft cloth, blot the painting gently. Regular dusting will prevent the need for further cleaning and is a critical part of caring for artwork.

• Your painting has a temporary varnish on it, which protects the surface. After a year, it can be permanently varnished. It can last longer, so whenever it appears to lose its sheen, and the tones appear dull, (especially the dark tones) it’s time to re-varnish. Have a professional framer or art restorer do this if you don’t want to do it yourself. If you do it yourself, it’s pretty easy and inexpensive.

For a more complete instruction sheet, click here file.

For my video on varnishing a painting yourself, click here:

I also have a page and video on framing tips here.


Once it is under glass, preferably UV blocking, and framed, pastels just need to be kept in a non-humid space, so that no
condensation can occur. Temperature should be relatively stable, no extreme heat/cold fluctuations, for the same reason.
Even with UV blocking, avoid placing in an area with extended periods of direct sunlight. Avoid too much movement, as
pastel particles can shake loose.

For framing, make sure everything is archival (acid free); there is space between the glass and art, either with a mat, or
spacers; they don’t drymount the art or use glue or regular tape (linen tape is best); they don’t use fixative on the art; and
they install a dust cover on the back. A good frame shop should use these techniques, but it is a good idea to ask if not
sure. Or if you frame it yourself, follow these tips for best results.

SHIPPING/TRANSPORTING PASTELS: (Recommended for long-distance, or when using a shipping service)

Of course, you can go the “top of the line” route and purchase the iron clad, foam lined boxes created specifically for shipping this type of artwork, however they are extremely expensive. To improvise and create something safe and less expensive, here’s help:

You will need the following items/materials: a clean and sturdy, undamaged cardboard box a few inches larger on all sides than the artwork you are planning on shipping; bubble wrap; an inexpensive foam “egg carton” type bed mattress (this can be purchased at Wal Mart or a similar store in various sizes), or regular thick foam; a sheet of newsprint or similar paper; packing tape; permanent marker; “Fragile” labels.

• First, cut the newsprint to fit perfectly over the glass of your painting. (Or, for added protection, you can also crisscross tape first over the glass in case it breaks, so that the glass won’t cut up the pastel artwork. But that can be hard to remove later, and not recommended on “museum glass”. Or use a product available from Airfloat called Glasskin, a low-tack tape 12 inches wide used to cover the glass when shipping.)

• Then you will need to wrap bubble wrap securely around the artwork in both directions. This step is very important as it doubly protects your art. Now secure with tape, but do not over tape, as you don’t want to make it too difficult on the other end to undo.

• Next use the foam mattress to create a liner for the box by cutting pieces and strips to fit on each side of the painting (top and bottom), as well as on ALL sides of the box. When you have completed this step you should have formed at least a two inch cushion around your artwork on every side – top, bottom, sides and ends. Here it is important to note that you should never use packing peanuts when shipping art for many reasons. Not only are they messy to unpack, but they also can cause static to build up. This could damage your pastel.

• You can add rigid supports (foamcore, or 1/8” or so wood panels) to flat sides if using a shipping service. Then tape whole bundle together, and insert in box. Add “Fragile” labels, and mark this side up. (flat, art side up

• Finally, transport it flat, art side up, so that pastel particles don’t shake loose. If a very large piece, transport vertically, so
that the glass wont flex and possibly break.

Click file for instruction sheet[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]