Having an oil painting professionally repaired is effective but very expensive. Consumers can just as easily perform their own repairs at home for a fraction of the cost and, if done correctly, these processes are equally as effective as a professional service. As they age, oil paintings inevitably require some form of repair to keep them in good condition. When attempting any type of repair, consumers must take great care not to stretch or damage the canvas as this causes flaking and cracking. Working slowly and carefully, using gentle movements, and never applying pressure to the canvas for the best results.
For the most effective restoration, gently remove the frame if possible, carefully removing the nails and taking note of which position each nail comes from. Place the painting on a table and examine it carefully, looking for areas of cracked or flaky paint. If there is evidence of cracking or flaking, do not clean it. Instead, take it to a professional art restorer. If no trace of flaking or cracking is present, proceed with the cleaning.
Vacuum the surface gently using a soft bristle attachment and applying no pressure. This removes dust and loose debris. Take a soft shaving brush, and very lightly brush the surface of the painting, taking care not to exert any pressure which stretches the canvas and encourages cracking. This lifts any remaining dust. Take a cup of luke warm water and add three drops of pure lemon juice. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture then squeeze out all the excess, leaving the ball lightly damp. Using a dabbing motion, dampen a small area of the painting, then lightly wipe the cotton ball across the damp area. Lift the cotton ball away and check it for signs of flaking paint. If no evidence of flakes is present, take a soft sponge lightly dampened in cold water and wipe across the dampened area, removing the lemon juice solution. Repeat this process across the entire painting. This process gently cuts through grease, grime, and smoke stains effectively, without the need for harsh chemicals that may strip the paint away.
Foxing causes discolouration of the canvas, giving the painting a brown or red hue. Repairing the damage caused by foxing restores an oil painting to the original colouring. Use a three per cent hydrogen peroxide solution and dip a cotton bud into it, lightly dampening it. Test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure the solution does not damage the canvas. Lightly wipe the cotton bud across the surface of the painting, being careful not to apply pressure. The hydrogen peroxide solution eradicates the foxing and returns the painting to the original colour.
A tear in an oil painting can prove disastrous. Large, extensive tear damage cannot successfully be repaired at home. However, consumers can repair minor tears at home with the right equipment and a little skill. Remove the canvas from the frame and lay it, face down, on a table. Take a piece of new canvas slightly larger than the tear and apply an acid-free adhesive. Apply the canvas to the damaged area, pressing lightly.
Turn the painting over and place a thin, hardback book beneath the tear. Press down on the torn area, with the book beneath to provide support. Slowly and gently ease the two edges of the tear together. If there are any fraying canvas strands, work those into the adhesive while drawing the edges together. Take a soft clean cloth and wipe the surface of the repair, removing any excess adhesive. Weight the top of the tear with another book and leave to dry. Remove the book when the canvas is dry and examine the repair. If any canvas strands are still visible, trim these off with sharp scissors, taking care not to damage the surface of the painting.
Oil paintings are prone to a number of different issues, including discolouration from dirt and grime build up, foxing, and tearing. Each of these issues requires a different repair or restoration methods.
Soft shaving brush
Hydrogen peroxide solution
When preparing to repair an oil painting, consumers should make sure they have all of their supplies close to hand. This allows them to successfully carry out each step in the repair process and achieve a good finish.
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