How to Take Care For Your Paintings

Oil paintings are delicate creatures because they take an enormously long time to dry completely. As a result, they are vulnerable to a number of environmental hazards during this wet period.

When you paint something in watercolor, it dries almost instantly compared to oils—then you can frame it behind some glass and eliminate many hazards.

This isn’t true for oil paintings, so you need to take care of your painting for a long time while it dries. After that, there are still a number of precautions that you need to take to ensure your painting stays in good condition for the long haul.

Before Your Painting is Dry

Your painting is subject to a number of issues while it dries. One is dust. Dust will adhere to the sticky paint and stay there forever if you let it. One tip is to let your painting dry facing a wall, where dust is less likely to settle.

Move it around often and keep the room it’s in clean. Additionally, lots of darkness will cause drying oils to rise to the top and create a yellow sheen at the surface of your painting. To avoid this, let your painting dry in sunny, well-lit areas whenever possible. It will help reverse the effects of the oil that dries in the dark.

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Once your painting is dry, varnish it. Some artists are scared to apply varnish to oil paintings because they worry they’ll somehow ruin their work after it’s already been painstakingly completed. Luckily many varnishes today are removable, taking away a lot of that stress.

But varnishing shouldn’t be that nerve-wracking. Simply go over your painting with long even strokes of varnish, both horizontally and vertically, and let it dry flat. This is invaluable in protecting your painting from environmental hazards like pollution, smoke, and dust.


Speaking of dust, you should dust even your dry your painting often. If you let a thick layer of dust settle on the painting, it could cause the paint to dry and crack. Don’t use any chemical dusting sprays. Just go over it with a soft, dry cloth.

Mind the Canvas

Canvas is thicker than paper, but it can rip all the same. Don’t lean your canvas against things that could tear it; instead, make sure it’s propped up by the wood on the edges. If you’re transporting your painting, sandwich it between two flat boards so nothing can tear through it in transit. If the painting does get torn or punctured, don’t try to repair it yourself. Bring it to someone who specializes in repairing paintings. You might be able to recover it this way.


Just like you, your painting doesn’t like to be in extreme heat or extreme cold, or really humid conditions. If you’re not hanging up a painting in a room that regularly has temperature control, you’ll need to be careful of this.

Storing a painting in a damp, dingy basement will affect it negatively. Alternatively, hanging it in an area where it’s constantly in bright sunlight will fade it. Put your painting in place you’d also be comfortable sitting in for days.

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