Art conservation is very important if you want to make your artwork last forever. Here are a few art conservation tips I have learned from art conservationist Mr. Ricky Francisco in one of the many seminar/workshops conducted during the 10th VIVA ExCon held in Cebu City in November 2008.
Art conservation tip #1 - PRIME YOUR SUPPORT. Whether it is canvas, wood or board, have at least two coats of gesso or white latex paint, apply the second coat after the first one has dried. As your support and paint are hygroscopic (the ability to absorb moisture in the air, causing the material to expand or contract), mold growth which damages the artwork is unavoidable in the humid Philippine environment.
Additional art conservation tip for boards or wood supports - coat at least two times the front, sides and back for better protection.
Additional art conservation tip for canvas supports - apply several layers of gesso or white latex on stretched canvas until you have a smooth and stable surface in order to lay a good foundation for your art.
Art conservation tip #2 - USE A RIGID SUPPORT. According to recent studies, the more stable the support, the better the paintings will keep. This is because of the contraction and expansion of materials due to humidity.
Art conservation tip #3 - STUDY YOUR PAINTS AND MATERIALS. Paints have binders to hold together the paint's pigment. They have certain properties that may discolor or crack in time. For instance, use oil paints "fat over lean", meaning the slower drying oils should be on top of faster drying oils.
Art conservation tip #4 - VARNISH YOUR WORKS. This acts as a film that protects your painting from the damaging effects of ultraviolet light, dust, dirt, molds, high humidity and pollution.
Art conservation tip #5 - FRAME IT WELL. It highlights as well as protect your painting. Never use rugby or contact cement to bind your artwork to the board. This is very harmful to your artwork or picture as rugby is very acidic. Notice how poorly framed photographs, certificates or diplomas turn yellow over the years. In just 10 years, the acids from the rugby would have worked its way to the canvas or paper and reveal unsightly mildew stains called foxing. Over time, the brown spots will degrade your painting's support and eat up your artwork.
Additional art conservation tip for glass covered artworks - make sure they are well protected against breakage due to mishandling.
Additional art conservation tip for canvas supports - put a board backing to protect your painting from dust, dirt, and insect invasion.
Art conservation tip #6 - DUST IT CLEAN. Remember Mr. Bean ruining Whistler's Mother in the movie? Simply reserve one cleaning brush that's dry and oil-free to dust your painting, one small square area at a time.
Art conservation tip #7 - DON'T TOUCH IT. Avoid oils, dirt and grease from your hands getting onto your artwork. Use white cotton gloves while handling especially old and delicate paintings. When shipping, wrap your artwork with acid-free glacine or wax paper.
Art conservation tip #8 - CARRY IT ONE AT A TIME. Bunching them up in just one go will cause the friction to rub the artworks against each other, causing irrevocable scratches.
Art conservation tip #9 - AVOID TOO MUCH LIGHT. Ultraviolet and infrared light causes discoloration of your artwork. Keep it in under controlled lighting conditions. Never expose your painting in direct sunlight.
Art conservation tip #10 - KEEP MOISTURE OUT. This will encourage the growth of mold and mildew and will cause irreversible damage to the painting.
As an artist and creator of your work you have the responsibility of prolonging its life for a very long time in order for the succeeding generations to enjoy viewing the actual artwork that has survived the test of time, thanks to a very well prepared job of art conservation.