How To Care For Your Acrylic Paintings

By P Abigail Sadhana Rao

When you invest in art that you love, you would want to retain the quality of your paintings. Often, dust tends to accumulate on our paintings; acrylics are all the more prone to attract dust and grime. Acrylics are known to be more flexible than dried oils at normal temperatures and so they are less likely to flake, crack or lose color. They are reasonably sturdy mediums. Furthermore, acrylic paintings on stretched canvas are far more durable as compared to artworks done on paper. Knowing how to clean your acrylic paintings will aid in avoiding or postponing the cleaning process, basic maintenance can ensure their longevity. 

To Frame Or Not

Now when it comes to framing, it definitely will provide protection, however, you may find several differing opinions concerning this. Acrylic medium is permanent once it dries and the paint surface cannot easily be damaged, hence framing isn’t essential to protect the artwork. 

Given the reflective nature of the glass, it can distort the perception of the artwork, and then there is the fear of moisture being trapped under the glass. Since acrylic artworks are quite stable, many experts agree that glazing and mounting under glass are not required, hence most people prefer leaving them unframed.

To frame or not, is a personal choice. If you are someone who appreciates the aesthetics of a solid frame, you can frame your acrylic without a glass overlay. Wooden frames can come in handy in protecting your artwork, but then they tend to bend during rainy seasons, causing the artwork to bend as well.  Alternatively, float frames too can provide a solid outline for your canvas without the unnecessary inclusion of glass. 

Displaying Your Acrylic Paintings

Protecting your acrylics from sunlight is a must. This is applicable not only to acrylics but to paintings of all sorts. Acrylic paintings are made of harder pigments, however, when acrylic paintings are exposed to sunlight for a longer duration, they risk fading. Direct sunlight can be extremely intense and contain UV that can cause discolouration. Positioning them away from the sunlight and keeping the shades closed during the day and at noon, could also help retain the pigment.

With the changing seasons, both temperature and humidity are bound to change, so it is important to take precautionary measures to protect your artwork. It is best to keep your acrylic artwork in a space that has moderate temperature and humidity, preventing them from flaking or cracking. Components of acrylic medium attract water at high levels of humidity which further enable molds to grow on your painting, causing surface damage and dirt retention. For the above reasons, consider hanging your acrylic paintings in a conducive environment to elongate their lifespan. 

Art Of Dusting Your Acrylics

Dusting or cleaning can be a risky undertaking since every time a painting is touched, they are at risk of being damaged on some level. The fewer times, an acrylic is cleaned, the less chance there is for permanent damage to occur. However, taking down your painting once or twice a year and dusting it can help preserve your acrylic paintings and reduce dust particles from permanently being embedded in them. 

Few industry experts suggest using a soft artists’ paintbrush or a soft-bristled brush to gently brush off your acrylic painting on paper/canvas. A good test for the suitability of the brush is to try it against your wrist, you should not be able to feel the bristles of the brush. One can even use brand-new makeup brushes to dust as well.

For acrylic paintings with impasto, using Q-tip will help in dusting them. If your acrylic painting contains other loosely bound elements, we recommend you take it to an art conservator to dust it. Using chemicals cleaning products or even water is strictly prohibited as it could lead to permanent damage to your artwork. If you think your painting requires a deep clean, we recommend you employ an art restorator to dust it for you. 

Checking For Dampness

It is imperative to check for signs of dampness as it is an arch nemesis of paintings in general, not just acrylic paintings. Take down your paintings, and check for discolouration or brown marks at the back of your painting. Changing the room, in which the painting is hung or controlling the humidity of the room, at the first sighting of damage can prevent your acrylic painting from deteriorating any further.

Disclaimer: We are sharing cleaning tips that we have gathered from our research. Seeking professional advice from a restorer is advisable.