I always smile a bit to myself when I have my artwork at a show, and a child reaches out to touch one of my paintings.

“No! Don’t touch that!” the parent scolds.

I don’t want to minimise the parent’s admonition, but I try to reassure them that the painting isn’t as delicate as they assume.

In Western culture, from our experiences encountering centuries-old masterpieces in museums, we are conditioned to give artwork its distance and treat it as an ancient archaeological relic.

Granted, I do try to show my artwork respect–because it is valuable–and not allow the surface to get scuffed or otherwise abused, but I know the medium I use, and it’s very resilient. So on the one side, I want clients that purchase my original paintings to treat it with care (and almost everyone instinctively does) but I also want them to feel comfortable knowing the painting can live in a house where people cook, children play, pets shed, and life happens. So, before I get into the nitty-gritty about caring for a TK painting, I think first, I should speak about what my stuff is made from…

WHAT MEDIA DO I USE?

I use MIXED MEDIA – ie. I use a variety of stuff in every piece.  Here’s some info on all the mediums I love to use:

Acrylic Paint

Ever since the Renaissance, oil paint was the standard medium for painting. It allowed for a long working time, brilliant colour saturation and blending, but because it could get brittle over time, oil paintings had to be handled with great care.

Then, in the 1930’s acrylic paint was invented and became available to artists in the 1950’s. Acrylics are great because of their versatility. High-quality acrylics such as Liquitex, Winsor & Newton and Aetilier are extremely flexible, non-yellowing, water resistant, and highly resistant to scratches once dry. Although I have tried oils, acrylic is my medium of choice.

Hessian and Non-acidic Glue

I also use artist hessian or jute, and it is glued down with non-acidic artist glue.

Artist Resin

Now, this stuff just makes the eyes and other selected pieces of the painting “pop” and look super glossy. PLUS, I mould the resin so it is shaped and curved a bit as well. I use a resin and a hardener. This stuff is tough…. real tough!

Giclee Print on Canvas

Giclee is kinda a fancy word for a trendy bubble jet printer. A giclee printer “spits” the ink onto the canvas so that the colour is strikingly bold and it has a professional artist quality. A few years ago it was a real buzzword associated with cool artists but now due to technology upgrades, it’s pretty commonplace.

OK, so now for the “CARING STUFF”

Since I have professionally painted in Acrylics for almost 20 years, I’ll speak from my experience with all of these mediums. Here are some guidelines in displaying and caring for your mixed media painting.

1. You do NOT need glass to protect your painting on canvas, only on paper.

I have seen some people put glass over their canvas paintings when framing them. This isn’t necessary to protect it. I use a high quality 100% acrylic varnish on my paintings to protect them from scratches, sunlight, dust, and other minor debris. The varnish also enhances the depth of the colours and provides a smooth, even sheen that is easy to clean.

The glass actually inhibits the viewing of the painting, by adding glare and reflections. However, I do recommend glass to cover works on paper, because the paper in prints is so susceptible to warping from humidity changes, and cannot be easily cleaned once it gets dirty. But for paintings, the traditional–and best–look is always to frame the canvas without glass.

2. Hang your painting in a place where there is adequate light–but not continuous full sunlight.

Paintings look best in the light. Soft lighting from lamps looks great on a painting that has warmer, earth tone hues. Daylight tends to accent a painting with cool tones. Try to keep your painting from direct sunlight–even though acrylic paint stands up very well to UV rays, eventually over the years, the sun will win the battle if you don’t take the precaution. So minimise that as much as possible.

3. How to clean your acrylic and mixed media painting.

Over time, dirt, dust, oils, and other particles will settle on the surface of your painting. If the painting has either extremely dark or light hues, it will become especially noticeable and will lessen the visual contrast of the overall image.

To clean the surface, all you need to do is grab a soft cotton towel or cloth, dampen it with water and wipe the dust off in circular motions.  Be careful if there is any hessian glued since some of those ends that have been varnished can be a wee bit sharp (Yep, I have experienced a bleeding finger from running my hands over them on numerous occasions!). If the dust is excessive, you may want to use a blow dryer on cool first. Grease can be cleaned with household vinegar and rinsed with water.

Many of my paintings have a white background. A must-have if you do move to help remove scuffs on the bottom of the painting and/or corners if the white magic eco eraser. Dampen it very lightly, and rub softly – voila! Begone dirty marks!

Never use ammonia, bleach, alcohol, turpentine, or any solvents to clean an acrylic painting. That will be a recipe for disaster!

Have you ever seen “Bean,” the movie with Rowan Atkinson? For the Bean lovers, here’s the video:

You may remember he was viewing a famous painting, “Whistler’s Mother.” While he was alone with painting, studying it, he tried to blow the dust off the surface. Then, the dust made him sneeze. Of course, he sneezed all over the painting. Uh oh! So he grabbed a handkerchief from his pocket and delicately cleaned the moisture off the canvas.

He smiled, sighing a breath of relief.

But he neglected to notice that his hankie was covered with ink from a leaky pen, and so was the face of Whistler’s mother! Now he really freaked out! He took the painting to the janitor’s closet and wiped off the ink with paint thinner.

Thankfully, the ink came off…but so did the face! All that was left was the raw canvas beneath – Mr. Bean was in trouble now!

So, let Mr. Bean be a lesson to you: No solvents for paintings!

4. What if the painting gets damaged?

Easy and important…. CONTACT ME FIRST!!!

Damage to an acrylic painting rarely occurs, but I have seen it happen. In fact, it has happened to me.

Holes in the canvas (eeek!)

In one of my early exhibitions in New York, one of my originals during its journey from Australia to New York, was punctured and gouged at the front of the painting, leaving a deep scratch almost 10 cm long! I didn’t have much time before the opening, but I was able to get some paint and quickly match, fill and varnish the scratched area. To this day, you can hardly tell there was a scratch unless I point it out to you. That piece never sold…. sigh…

Now, if you bought an acrylic painting from me, for example, and it were to get damaged, I would be more than happy to restore it, for a very reasonable fee. Depending on the damage and where it is on the painting, it is something I can usually fix in a few hours or less.

Dents in the canvas (not-so-bad!)

If your canvas gets dented, from something leaning against it for a longer period,  here is simple repair you can do yourself…

Simply boil about a cup of water in your microwave, grab a small brush approx. 2 cm wide, and apply the hot water to the back (raw side) of the canvas approximately where the dent is and then paint an “X” across the back with the water.

You know how they tell you to never wash your cotton clothes in hot water because they’ll shrink? Well, in this case, that’s exactly what we want.

The hot water will cause the canvas to contract and with it, the dents will be pulled out. While wet, the canvas will be tight as a drum. After it dries, it will loosen a bit, but the dent will still be gone.

FRAMING

My pieces look great without a frame, however, I gotta admit the paintings in my private collection are framed. Why? Because it helps protect the sides of the painting, plus the frame, in my opinion, makes the painting “pop” even more.

I always suggest to people to take their painting home and hang it immediately.  When they decide they want a fresh new “look”, consider simply framing the painting. Not only does it make it look bigger, but it does give it a fresh lease of life!

I suggest using a FLOATING FRAME. That is there no glass, and the frame looks as if it is detached from the painting – cool huh? Here are some pics of some of my pieces in frames.

Colour of the frames are personal. Very personal. And there are quite a few frames to choose. One thing to note though, the stretcher bars I use are normally 3.8cm. It’s important that the frame is at least as high as the stretcher bar.

Whew!! So much info!! Nanna nap time I think now lol!

So in summary, should you decide to purchase a TK Original Painting or Hand Finished Limited Edition some time down the road, or, if you already own one, be confident that your investment is a wise one!  They are extremely archival, meaning, they are meant to last for a lifetime and more. With reasonable care, your investment will be sure to become a treasured family heirloom and continue to make the world a better place by creating more joyful emotions and smiles!

Well done you!  Congratulations!!

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