Caring for Your Original Canvas Art

As every artist knows, it is more expensive and challenging to paint on canvas than on paper. That is why most artists practice on paper and progress to canvas when they have mastered their craft. As a result, most of the world’s great paintings are on canvas, even though they require special care. What do we mean?

Canvas is a material that must be stretched upon a wooden frame in order to preserve the work of art. This means that part of the canvas will extend beyond the stretcher. If the painting is not stretched when you purchase or receive it, you must have it done by a professional in order to protect it from harm. Never attempt to remove or trim off excess canvas, as that can and often will devalue the painting.

Regular maintenance

Unlike paintings on paper, works on canvas are not vulnerable to acidity, which means they need not be protected by a pane of glass. The most serious threat to these paintings is that they’ll be punctured by something if left uncovered. In other words, you must be careful around these paintings and keep the kids at bay.

On occasion, canvas artwork may wrinkle or become baggy, often due to dry weather that shrinks the stretcher bars and prevents them from doing their job. When this occurs, you can either insert artist’s stretcher wedges, which should tighten them up, or spray water on the back of the painting. Just be careful not to soak it and disperse the water evenly.  If you have any question about this procedure, leave it to a professional, since improper application could harm the canvas.

wedding photo on canvasOil vs. acrylic

As with every other endeavor, there is a constant battle between the old and the new.  Oil paintings have been around for hundreds of years and they are considered by many serious artists to be the only medium that matters. Acrylics, on the other hand, are a comparatively new medium that has gained a loyal followings in short order. Widely accepted by the cognoscenti, acrylics are now considered a stable art medium. Both oils and acrylics require different types and levels of care.


There’s a reason why most of the masterpieces created during the Renaissance have since been restored several times. Works like the immortal Mona Lisa are oil paintings, which can fade and crack and become flaky over time. Most of these issues occur because the works are placed in direct sunlight or next to a heat source. When properly maintained, oil paintings can last for centuries without noticeable degradation.


If you walk into any modern art gallery, odds are most of the paintings on the walls contain acrylic paint. Although they do not appear to age as rapidly as oil paintings and they are less susceptible to the elements, acrylics are not invulnerable.  Their main weakness is that they tend to hold electrostatic charges, which means they attract dust like a magnet. This problem can be prevented if you put the work of art behind glass.

One thing that you should never do is use cleaning agents to try to remove dust and debris. These solutions can seriously damage acrylics, oftentimes irreparably. Instead, use a feather duster or a dish towel to carefully clean the surface on a regular basis.

Although less susceptible to heat than oil paintings, the acrylic variety should be kept at a safe distance from heat sources such as fire places, radiators, and stoves, of course. The damage that can be done by heat is rarely to the actual acrylics, but to the canvas itself.

Basic tips

If you decide to leave either type of painting exposed, .i.e., uncovered by glass, understand that both are pressure sensitive. Canvas is an extremely soft material that can be damaged or dented if it is poked or scratched.  So, if you have pets or children in your home, make sure you hang these paintings far enough off the floor so that they cannot touch them.

You should also avoid leaning a canvas painting against a wall or a piece of furniture. As sturdy as they may appear, the wooden frames that keep them in place are quite sensitive. After all, they are designed to hang on walls, not sit on floors. When you lean them up against anything for an extended period, there’s a good chance that the frame will be damaged and may get wobbly. This will inhibit its ability to properly stretch the canvas, which may result in wrinkling.


Author Bio:

This is a guest post from Martha, who is a professional blogger and writer. Currently Martha is collaborating with a few custom writing services. She especially likes sharing her knowledge about writing.

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