I recently received some questions from a new collector on how to care for her oil painting, so while I have discussed these issues here on my blog before, I thought my readers might also find a refresher helpful . I personally feel that oil paintings are much easier to care for than works on paper, but there are some guidelines to follow to ensure your painting receives a long and happy life.
I frame all of my oils without glass, as a canvas painted with oils that has adequately and properly cured is quite a bit less delicate than works on paper, which are more prone to deterioration when exposed to the environment. Framing without glass is indeed, just one of the great advantages of oil paintings, as it eliminates the glare that can be created by the glass covering. If you feel, however, that the paintings would be subject to any unusual conditions, consult a professional picture framer (or better still an art conservator), as they are best suited to advise you on such matters and may indeed determine that framing under glass is best due to those conditions. If you do use glass for any reason, the framer should use spacers between the painting and the glass, so as to avoid having the painting surface in direct contact with the glass (which can be highly acidic.)
When transporting the canvases, they should be held by the edges, not carried by tucking your fingers under and between the wood frame and the canvas. Do not lean anything up directly against a canvas or allow the canvas itself to lean or touch another object as this may cause the painting to develop “dimples” or indentations. Avoid hanging the paintings in direct sunlight. I do use professional grade archival paints and canvases, but any artwork, no matter the medium, will be prone to fading if in direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time. Also avoid high moisture areas (like steam from a hot tub or a bathroom shower, for instance) which can cause the canvas to expand and contract and the frame to warp, creating the potential for cracking of the paint surface. Really though, the greatest risk to a painting occurs during transport, so assuming it is properly packed and arrives in good shape, the rest of its care should be pretty easy and straight forward.