How to Care for Canvas Artwork

Cell No.19, Angela Canada Hopkins © 2012


Most of us have had posters and photographs on our walls since childhood. It's usually not until later in life that we have the privilege of owning fine art--something that's an original, and likely painted on canvas. There's just something special about owning an oil or acrylic painting on canvas. It feels gritty, alive, faithfully serving as the medium for the artist's inspiration.

If you've purchased or are thinking about purchasing an original canvas artwork, you should know it will require a slightly different style of care to keep it looking good for years to come. Three things you must look out for as a fine art owner are Heat, Sunlight, and Moisture.

These three conditions are deadly for canvas art, which is rarely hidden behind glass the way paper art is.

How To Frame Your Canvas Artwork

Framing is essential for quality presentation of your fine art, and is also an integral part of the preservation process. Canvas art is usually framed without glass. In most cases, your canvas art will already come stretched on a frame, but just in case it doesn't, make sure the canvas is†stretched properly on the supporting frame. This will minimize movement of the canvas over time, which often happens as a result of changes in temperature and humidity.

Where To Hang Your Canvas Artwork

After you've purchased and brought your new artwork home, the first thing to think about is placement. Never hang or place your canvas artwork directly above a heating unit, stove, or fireplace where it could be subject to high heat. You'll also want to avoid areas of direct sunlight, or pronounced humidity, like near windows or in bathrooms and kitchens. Heat, sunlight, and humidity are factors that might cause shrinking and expansion of the paint layer, that will result in cracks in the paint.

How To Clean Your Canvas Artwork

Well-loved canvas paintings often collect dust, but you can't just spray on some Pledge and wipe it away. Water and chemical-based cleaners are deadly to canvas artwork. Instead, use a dry lint-free cloth or feather duster to remove any debris that may have settled on the painting. Every few months or so, take the painting off the wall and turn upside down gently to dislodge any larger pieces.†Paintings should be removed from the wall twice a year and the back of the painting should be examined for any signs of cracking or woodworm damage.

When To Seek Professional Help

If you ever notice cracks, waves or bumps, or yellow spots on your canvas artwork, those are signs that serious damage is on the horizon. It's time to bring the painting to a professional to let them re-stretch or restore sections that are affected.