Caring for your Art

Caring for art

It is true to say that art is eternal. Artists create timeless images that speak to people right down the ages. However, nearly all artistic creations are extremely delicate. Your artwork will only prove a timeless creation itself if you care for it properly. The frame of your artwork not only serves an aesthetic purpose, it protects the art in many ways and provides a strong point from which to hang it.

The importance of framing:

Framing serves several functions: it protects your artwork, preserves it and helps integrate it with your existing décor. Quality framing should also enhance your artwork, giving it the perfect setting for you to appreciate every aspect of its beauty.

Choosing a framer:

Framing is an artwork in itself. Do make sure that you choose an well qualified framer to work with your piece.

The frame:

Most importantly, the frame should be strong. The idea is that it supports the artwork, the artwork should never support the frame. As a guiding rule, the edges should extend at least 1 cm above surface of artwork, this protects the surface of the work from in case of being knocked or bumped.

Choosing an artwork from a collection of thousands of wonderful creations may be difficult, but selecting the best frame to offset your new acquisition can prove just as hard. We recommend first and foremost, simplicity. Nowadays over-elaborate frames are unpopular and many artists prefer to frame their artwork in the least intrusive way possible. Simple framing also has the advantage that it is cheaper, does not distract from the artwork and looks good alongside almost any style of interior decoration.

Aesthetically speaking, frames serve two principal functions. Firstly the frame should highlight but not overpower the art. Secondly the frame can be used to integrate the artwork into the room. When choosing a frame, try to echo elements of the room in which you wish to hang the artwork. For example, you may have a highly colourful painting that you wish to hang in a room that is decorated with a modern chrome furniture look. You can integrate the artwork with this look by choosing a simple black or chrome frame.

Matting and backing board:

Framers mount artwork on what is known as a backing board. This serves to protect the reverse of the artwork while creating a kind of micro climate for the support of the artwork. It is vitally important that this board is acid-free. Cheep frames are often made with a backing board that is not acid-free. Even if the amount of acid is very small, over time this can cause damage to the artwork. Unfortunately even boards sold as “acid-free” or “museum quality” are not guaranteed to be of the appropriate quality. Look out for boards that have some level of alkaline or state that they have a natural HP. It is especially important to mount photographic works on boards that are guaranteed acid-free.

Matting is generally done with two boards. One is used as a backing for the artwork and the other is what is known as the “window” board. The window board is placed on top of the artwork. It creates an important space between the artwork and the glaze. The window should be cut with a bevel (a slight slant) in order to eliminate shadows being cast on the artwork by the raised surface of the window board. In some cases a spacer is used between the artwork and the glaze.

Spacers should be used to ensure that the glaze is kept well above the surface of the artwork in cases where the artwork’s surface is especially uneven or you do not want to use a window board.

Bear in mind that the backing board needs to be of sufficient strength to support your artwork. Boards come in different ply weights: two, four and eight. Four ply is the absolute minimum you should use to frame an average sized artwork.

On the whole white or off white boards are the safest bet, both aesthetically and practically. If you do chose a colored board, make sure that it is guaranteed not to seep color in case of accidental exposure to dampness or contact with water.

It is also very important that the framed artwork is well sealed. This ensures that damage from humidity is kept to the very minimum. Framers use brown paper to seal artworks or else a devise known as a strainer. The strainer (usually used in the framing of larger works of art) is attached to the backing board and sealed to the frame.


Glass can also be used as a further protection to the artwork. This provides a barrier against dirt or moisture. Generally either glass or Plexiglas (acrylic sheeting) is used. It is important to ensure that the glazing is place well above the surface of the artwork. The advantages of Plexiglas is that it can be made to incorporate an ultraviolet filter that will protect the artwork from light damage. However, Plexiglas is easily scratched and can build up static electricity.

Therefore it should not be used for artworks made with materials such as charcoal or pastel as the loose particles can be attracted to the Plexiglas. Glass is breakable and inconvenient when framing large artworks, however it is cheaper than Plexiglas and less scratchable. As you will have gathered, there are many things to consider when framing your artwork. Good quality framers may not be easy to come by. If you are unsure, consult a conservator of artworks who will be able to recommend you a reliable framer in your area.

Light damage to art

While light is obviously important in order to view artwork, it can also be harmful to paintings and art on paper.

Over time it can not only cause pigments to fade, but also damage canvas or paper, leaving it dangerously brittle.

Museums take careful control of light levels, using monitors and devises to proportion the most appropriate amount of light onto each artwork. While it is very difficult for us to do this in our own homes, we can take certain basic precautions to minimize possible damage:

Try to locate your pictures in order for them not to be exposed to direct sunlight.

Avoid using picture lights. These not only cause light damage but also heat damage to your artwork.

You can now choose to buy incandescent light, free of UV rays. Low voltage bulbs and lights fitted with dimmer switches allow you to view your art comfortably and safely.

If you have florescent lighting, you can also fit it with UV filters which fit over the surface of the light.

Alternatively you can frame the artwork using UV protective Plexiglas.

It is also recommendable to simply keep curtains drawn and blinds down to keep the room as dark as possible when not in use.

Other enemies of your art:

Light is not the only element that can harm your art. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity are also art’s deadly enemies. Although good framing of your art can go a long way to protecting it, there are a number of precautions that you should also take when hanging:

  • Try not to hand your art on exterior walls. These are far more susceptible to fluctuations in outside temperature and humidity than interior walls.

    Do not hang pictures near to sources of heat in your house, such as fireplaces, radiators, etc.

  • You can protect your artwork against excessive changes of temperature and humidity by ensuring that there is a gap between the framed artwork and the wall. Thus air can circulate and humidity cannot build up.

    li> Nowadays you can also buy portable dehumidifiers that greatly contribute to the preservation of your artworks. If you really feel you have to hang a picture in an unsuitable room, such as an attic or basement, typically damp and susceptible to fluctuations in temperature, it is recommendable to use a dehumidifier./ul>

    If you have any other questions or taking care of your new PicassoMio artwork, you can always contact us at