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Cleaning an Ancestor’s Oil Painting Portrait – Short, Interesting Time Lapse Video

There seems to be a plethora of vintage family ancestor oil painting portraits in the lab right now. So, I thought you would enjoy seeing a short time lapse video of the cleaning process. To make this video I tried a new app for my iPad that was fun… and it worked! Here’s the video:

Some people think that cleaning a painting is a per square inch type of estimating and that I should be able to do it over the phone. But to clean an old oil painting safely, we need to do solubility tests with each of the solvents we might use to make sure they dissolve the varnish without dissolving the original paint! Sometimes we use a head-mounted magnifier to get a closer look and sometimes we use a stereobinocular microscope! Varnish qualities vary widely and just when you think it looks “normal” you find that the varnish in question won’t come off with the usual stand bys.

I thought this painting would take about $300 in time and materials to clean but instead, it resisted and took about $600.00 in time and materials to clean completely and safely (no adverse affects on the original paint). So, as you can see, the cleaning process (as are some of the other art conservation treatments) requires, sometimes, a “discovery process.” Most of the time, however, we nail the estimate up front but some of you may be happy to know that the “unknown factor” happens to me too when I work on my artwork.

The “take away” for you from this article is a better knowledge of the estimating and discovery process when cleaning a painting. That may help you to have a better conversation when you talk to an art conservator.

Would you please give this blog post a THUMBS UP? Thanks!

To see an article on lining and framing a painting, CLICK HERE

Art conservation questions? Call Scott M. Haskins 8905 564 3438

Art appraisal questions? Call Richard Holgate 805 895 5121

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2 Responses to “Cleaning an Ancestor’s Oil Painting Portrait – Short, Interesting Time Lapse Video”

  1. Deborah says:

    I am the person over a small Daughters of the Utah Pioneers cabin in Ut. I have a baby dress of fragile material that received water stains over the winter. Is there any way that I can clean that dress without further damaging it?

    • Scott says:

      Thanks for contacting me Deborah. And thanks for being so conscientious. Unfortunately, water stains are a blemish that is soaked into the structure of the artifact. Its not a surface dirt that can be cleaned off. So, no, there is nothing you can do. The correct treatment needed is to wash out the stain in a textile conservation lab. The more brittle and fragile the item, the more difficult the treatment will be even for a trained art conservation professional. Sorry for the bad news. Feel free to contact me anytime you like.
      All my best,
      Scott

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