Curb sun exposure. You’ve noticed it before—faded rugs, bleached furniture, even changes in the color of hardwood flooring—all thanks to sun exposure. That’s why Victoria Kennedy, owner of Kennedy Contemporary in Newport Beach, California, urges art owners to be cognizant of keeping artwork away from windows, doors, and skylights. “Direct, constant sunlight—meaning UV rays—will dilute paint color over time,” she explains. “I always recommend that clients place their art where it will receive the least amount of consistent, direct sunlight.” Have a perpetually sunny house? There’s no reason to panic; most paintings are coated with a varnish that’s designed to protect from UV rays, dust, and yellowing. If sun is unavoidable, Kennedy recommends adding museum glass to protect the face. For extra assurance, and something Kennedy does in her own home, she recommends moving your paintings around periodically to help reduce the amount of consistent sun exposure. Added bonus: this tactic provides a new and exciting perspective for your artwork.
Medium matters. Is your painting acrylic or oil on canvas? A framed print? An encaustic with a floating frame? Knowing the medium of your piece is crucial when it comes to figuring out how to care for it. Here, Kennedy shares her basic care guidelines:
- For oil or acrylic paint on canvas. These pieces are typically varnished to protect the paint from dust and temporary periods of sunlight. Keep paintings away from areas where they could get wet and occasionally dust them with a microfiber cloth.
- For framed works on paper. Some of the most durable pieces in a home collection, thanks to the frames that protect them, it’s recommended to keep them away from areas of extreme moisture, but they can usually withstand a bathroom or pool room. As you would with windows, clean the glass with a glass cleaning product as needed. However, do not spray directly on the glass. Instead, apply cleaner to a cloth and then wipe.
- For encaustic (beeswax and resin surface). These should be buffed every four to six months with a microfiber cloth to maintain the “glow” and remove any dust or fingerprints on the surface.
- For bronze sculptures. Most bronze sculptures are protected by a thin layer of wax, however, they will need regular dusting with a microfiber cloth.