Sunday, 30 August 2009

Archival storage - canvas

The first post I made covered archival storage of art on paper. Now we move onto Canvas. Most of the archival qualities of canvas paintings come with how they're created.

Supports grounds and gessos

If you've got a painting on Canvas, you're in luck. Much less work. HAHA! There are very few steps to keeping these safe and preserved. There are 2 aspects to consider: your foundation and your varnish.

Depending on the paint you are using (acrylic or oil) you need a proper surface to paint on that will help keep your painting alive for a long time. In general Linen and Canvas are both fabulous. If you are stretching it over stretcher bars, make sure they're sturdy enough for the size. larger paintings should have gussets, cross braces and heavy duty bars to support them. This will prevent bowing and breakage.

The gesso or ground you use has to be appropriate to the paint you are using. Example, using an oil ground for acrylic paintings could lead to many problems including sagging peeling and rotting depending on the type of ground. Always use an acrylic gesso for acrylics. You can use an acrylic gesso for oil painting as well, but make dang sure its dry, and don't mix it in with oil paint. Oil paint can safely go on top of acrylic but not underneath or mixed in.

For oils use a ground for oil paints. I wont go into them here because gamblin has a fabulous write up here on their products that says more than I could, and says it better.

Be cautious of using surfaces like Masonite that can be oily and highly acidic. Painting on cardboard is also a terrible idea if you want it to last.


Acrylic paint in has a polymer base with pigments added; Its plastic with colour. That alone makes it about more durable than you probably realize. If you've chosen artist quality paints and used light fast colours you're doing great and probably don't even need a varnish. There are a few aesthetic considerations in regards to a finishing layer. Sometimes different pigments will vary the sheen of your work in which case you might want to give it a later of a varnish or a layer that will at least unify your sheen. you can get several products. A plain ol' Acrylic gel medium (polymer medium) with your desired sheen (gloss, matte, semi gloss or satin) makes a great final layer for acrylics. Best of all its the same material that your paints made of, only clear. it will make your bright and dark colours pop if you use a gloss. If you use a matte gel keep in mind the matting agent added to this is not clear. so over dark colours it might look milky.
As always test on something else first.
You can also get some varnishes to block some of that hideous UV that kills colours. Golden Paints has a product called a UVLS varnish. It comes in gloss and matte and blocks UV light from attacking your colours. This is useful if you are selling your piece to make sure the buyer gets the most of the work.

For oil paintings on canvas, you can get many resin and solvent based Varnishes. This gets to be a complicated topic sometimes, but in general I find Gamblin to be the most reliable resource for Oil painters out there. They have a synthetic resin varnish, and many types of damar and mastic varnishes. Damar has a reputation for yellowing over time. Gamvar is a very reputable product for an oil painting varnish. The main thing to look for is "removable" and "non yellowing".
Most varnishes are "removable". This is a frequently misinterpreted word. It's not removable by you, it's removable by conservationists. It means that the people restoring your painting professionally if there is damage or you're 100 years dead and they're restoring it, they remove the varnish layer to fix and restore the painted layer.

For acrylic paintings at least (I've actually not heard of this with oils) you need an isolation coat if you're going to varnish. and Isolation coat is a layer of non removable product applied between your paint and your varnish. I've generally used a polymer medium since its clear and I've used them in the painting anyways. That works well.

There are a few ways to store your paintings. you can either leave them as they are, stack and store them with barrier paper. be sure to leave space between each painting. Paint must breathe to be happy. You can use any number of things to space them out, little bumpers stuck to the back corners of the canvases is good. As long as you leave air flow you're okay. Then you can stack. Make sure to not leave anything leaning on the canvas itself as it will cause dents and rips over time. always stack then with the weight on the bars.

If you do end up with a dent in your canvas, or your canvas looses its tension you can get a product called "canvas tite" that you can apply to the back of your canvas to return some tension. Its best to avoid the problem though.

The other option is pulling the canvas off the stretcher bars and storing it rolled or flat. This is a good option for space saving but requires more care.
You should roll them with tissue paper with the paint side out, to prevent bulking and cracking of the paint, and store them in a tube wrapped in acid free tissue. let it breathe though.

If you store it flat, use the tissue again and store it in a breathable location. a drawer perhaps.
Wood drawers leach acid so be sure to treat the inside to neutralize the effect.

Never trim the edges of a canvas pulled off stretchers. if you ever need to re-stretch the canvas onto bars you need that space to pull and staple. (canvas stretching is for another post).

That's about all I can recall about canvas off the top of my head. Again do research on your own, and check manufacturers websites.

Archival art storage - Paper

So you've created a masterpiece and now you need to store it. But how do you keep it looking like new forever?

The first step is choosing art materials that can stand the test of time. Use artist grade materials, and light fast colours (more on that in another post someday!). Always work on Acid-Free surfaces (paper, canvas etc) and finally; take care of the final product.

The 3 main factors in damage to art work are light, temperature, and acidity.
When storing your art work there isn't much consideration for presentation, so here are some things you can do.

For art work on paper

Mat your art work in conservation or museum grade mat board. you'd need a full back mat, and a front mat with a window hinged together with Acid Free Hinging tape. Use the same tape to attach your Image to the mat. this does 2 things: Keeps the paper safe and flat so it wont take damage from the outside world, buffers against acidity and moisture (air moisture, not your pop or juice), and leaves some space between your art work and what you are storing it in. you don't want the surface of your art rubbing on something, especially if you have work done on particularly soft paper or a smudge-able medium like pastels or pencils. Any mat board you use should be at least conservation standard. If you're using un-buffered or merely acid free mats, then that doesn't mean acid cant be introduced to the mat board, and consequently your art. Watch for "Acid Burn" on the edges of your image where your mat touches. it looks like light brown burnt edges. also check that the bevel on your mat isn't turning brown. That's acids baby!

You can then store or display your matted art in an archival plastic bag made with polyethylene or polypropylene. If you are storing you might want to slip a piece of Acid Free chloroplast in there to give it added rigidity, and then store it in an acid free storage box. There are some on the market for this very purpose but anything acid-free, lignin-free, and buffered will do.

make sure its stored in an area that wont get light, or moisture to prevent fading and molding. Your art work should last a life time!

If you want to store multiple images together, or for another reason need added protection for your art work, there are a number of inexpensive products you can use.

The Acid Free Tissue is a great product to fold around paintings, or put between 2 paintings when storing short term. You might also want to place a layer of this in front of your art before storing it in the plastic sleeves. That way if something happens and damage does occur and your painting decides to stock to whatever is closest, its the easier to fix tissue and not the plastic sleeve.

Barrier paper is a 2 ply sheet of archival paper that is often used in framing, placed between to matted work and the back board. Its great because its a bit heavier than tissue so it really stays put.

Blotter paper is a highly absorbent heavy weight paper that is conservation quality. It's very absorbent.

Varnishing and Fixatives for Paper

If you are going to be storing pastels, pencils or charcoal work, its a good idea to give it a couple coats of a workable fixative. Make sure the fixative is non yellowing, and test it on scrap test paper before using it on your masterpiece (this goes for everything you do).

there are also some varnishes on the market designed for watercolours and gouache paintings (in addition to ones made for acrylic and oil). They're usually in an aerosol can and require several coats. If you can find one that has a UV barrier in it all the better. These varnishes should protect against light, and physical damage (to a point) and also act as a paint fixative.

Storage sleeves and boxes

Instead of the crystal clear bags, and storing things individually wrapped, you can also get some portfolio storage and presentation folders. Itoya has some great products for this! if you do go this route make sure any portfolio you get is PVC free for the plastic, and acid free and buffered sleeve inserts )the usually black piece of paper inside each sleeve). you can get them either attached in the book or with removable sleeves. Just make sure you choose the right size for your art. Too big and they'll slip slide all over the place and get damaged, too small and you force it in and ruin it. The sizes listed on the books are the paper size that it can hold.

you can also roll and store large works in PVC Free plastic tubes. I'm personally not a big fan of this method as I've seen in my job people trying to uncurl these pieces to frame them and causing huge damage in the form of rips and creases to it. if you do store work rolled and need to flatten it out please use care! don't force it into a flat shape before it's really. (When babies are born, they take a while to uncurl - if you pull a painting from a tube, its your baby! Give it the time your baby needs.) Gently un roll it, a little but, have someone hold the first edge while you unroll the rest of the way. if you have something flat the same size as your image lay it on top to flatten it out as you uncurl. don't force it or you'll get creases.( try to use a barrier paper or something between your work and the surface you use the flatten). You can also roll it back on itself the opposite way it was rolled. this is trickier, especially with heavier paper, but you can leave it curled backwards for a couple hours and it will be almost flat. If its a really precious work, leave it in the tube and hand it over to a professional.


Acid Free: This means that the paper is free of acids that will cause it to deteriorate over time and damage the other items that it touches. Good to note: If a product doesn't say its Acid Free, it's not in most cases. Except with pens, when most pens are acid free but they don't mention it.
It's a misconception that Acid Free is more expensive. In Most cases its on par with prices of acidic products but only sometimes slightly higher. Given that it expends the life of your work, its an acceptable cost.

Non Acidic: Non Acidic does not mean Acid Free! It means its been buffered to an Acid free level (maybe even only on one side) and that it will return to an acidic state over time.

PVC free: Refers to plastics only. PVC's present in plastic will cause deterioration over time. it will turn into goo. Rubber bands have PVC in them and you can tell when you've had something in an elastic too long it gets gooey or brittle.

has an alkaline reserve, usually 2-5% calcium carbonate. The buffering counteracts the effects within the material or in the environment, providing long term protection. Buffered paper should have a pH neutral level of 7.5 to 9.5

Un-buffered or Non-buffered: lacks the buffering reserve to prevent future acidity. It is used with materials that are sensitive to a higher pH level. Un-buffered paper should have a pH neutral level of 7.0 to 7.5

pH level: the measure of acidity and alkalinity. The scale ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral.

Conservation quality: it is both acid-free and lignin-free, and is inherently neutral, not merely buffered to a neutral pH level.

Museum Quality: The standards set by museums for storage and presentation. The absolute best of the best. Often used interchangeably with conservation quality, but the terms also very by manufacturer (in regards to mat board).

Do more research

There is a Website called FACTS: Fine art Care and Treatment Standards. This is an unbelievable resource.

Check out the manufacturers of the mat board and products on the web. Most good companies have a website with information and FAQ's.Ask Questions, get answers. Google is your friend.

Check your art store: if you're local art store is any good their staff will be knowledgeable and hopefully artists themselves. Opus Framing and Art is the absolute best and the website has a great blog. Ask Questions! The staff at opus are an endless resource for me (and being staff myself, I've become a resource for others obviously. We all share one thing: an obsessive knowledge of art supplies!)

Well I think I've covered all I can think of for this right now, stay tuned for more! There's just too much to say!

Monday, 24 August 2009

verve gallery auction

MY art is up for auction (as well as others) on Ebay right now! proceeds go to the Boys and girls club of Canada! This is a collection of pieces that were painted by 6 artists of various backgrounds. The pieces were painted live at the RDS Skate Supply Lower Lonsdale Block Party and Skate Competition. Each artist was given a 3' x 4' canvas and some spray paint (compliments of Opus Framing and Art).

my painting is in it:

Charity Painting by `guruubii on deviantART

View Ebay Auctions: [link]

My painting for auction: [link]

Please pass this along and spread the word for the sake of the chillin's and for my ego. HAHA! its for a really good cause :)
Thanks guys!
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