How to Preserve Your Artworks

How to Preserve Your Artworks

Once you have created or bought your beautiful new artwork, you want to make sure it stays looking fabulous!

There are several factors that can affect how well your painting survives over time including the supporting material, media used and environment.


Sunlight can be one of the main factors to consider when preserving your artworks. Storing your paintings in direct sunlight can cause the colors to fade and even the paper to crumble. The ideal situation is to hang your artworks out of direct sunlight but this is not always possible and this is where the importance of good quality art materials come into play. The more expensive professional grade artist media have better quality pigments in higher quantities and tend to be more permanent or lightfast. This means they are much less likely to fade in sunlight. The exception to this is alcohol inks - even the top quality inks are not lightfast. Artworks using alcohol ink are best kept out of direct sunlight and framed and covered with glass that has been treated with a UV resistant coating.

Watercolors can also have a tendency to fade unless they are of the highest quality but acrylic paint has good lightfastness even with the student grade level paint. Acrylic paintings can also be finished with a UV resistant varnish that further protects the color as well as protecting the painting from dust, dirt, scratches and humidity. I always use good quality paint on my artworks and finish with a professional UV resistant varnish.

 detail of abstract green rock painting

Here is a detail of one of my paintings 'Green Rocks'. You can see the sheen of the varnish here as I used a satin UV resistant varnish for this painting. This piece gets a lot of sunlight through the day but the colors are still as bright as when it was first painted.

When using paper as the substrate for artworks, such as with watercolor, it is also preferable to use acid free paper as this is much less likely to brown over time. These pieces should be framed and covered in glass or plexiglass the protect the paint as well as the paper from moisture. Canvas is more durable but it is best not to put it under glass as moisture can get trapped and mold may grow. It definitely best practice to keep your artworks away from damp areas such as the bathroom.

Extreme temperature is also best avoided - which is my opinion about everything! I hate high temperatures and so does art. Once dry, Acrylic paint is pretty durable but it starts to soften at around 140F (60C) so don't keep your newly bought painting in the boot (trunk) of your car if you've just bought it from an art fair in the desert!

Try and keep your artwork away from splatter areas like the kitchen (I am notorious for managing to splash tomato sauce everywhere) and regularly dust with a soft, clean cloth. (haha - anyone who knows me knows I never dust. Thank goodness for the varnish!)


Here I am holding a fluffy thing that I believe is for dusting?

With these tips I hope you can create or buy quality artwork that you can preserve and enjoy for many years!



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