With the vast array of creative media available to artists, it’s important for a custom framer to be familiar with as many as possible. A photograph is not a lithograph and should not be treated as such. Pastels aren’t watercolors and need to be cared for appropriately. Just as there’s “different strokes for different folks” we’ll need “different parts for different arts.” In this post we’ll be reviewing how framing original paintings differs from framing other types of artwork, and how to ensure you’re caring for them properly.
If the painting is on canvas, panel, or board there is typically no need to keep it under glass. The thick pigments involved are normally durable enough to withstand the damaging effects of UV-light. Many professional oil paintings are finished with a clear protective varnish which allows the art to be cleaned by a professional without damage. Paintings in museums are presented in a climate-controlled environment, and are often glazed to protect them from vandalism. If the painting is on a thin backing, such as paper or card, then UV-protection is necessary to prevent that material from UV light damage and deterioration.
Glazing (glass or acrylic) can be used as an extra layer of protection from environmental hazards such as dust, fingerprints, or flying Cheerios at snack time. If you do choose to use glazing on an original painting, it is essential to allow sufficient air space between the art and the glass. This can be achieved by hidden archival spacers that lay within the rabbet of the frame. In these instances, we recommend a spacer with a minimum depth of 1/4″. Acrylics cure relatively quickly, whereas an oil painting needs at least 6 months to dry before being framed under glass. Keep in mind…ANY art will release chemicals over time, so periodically examine your glazed works for haze or deposits.
Another design option is to use a liner under glass. Traditional mats are not used on oil or acrylic paintings, but liners perform a similar function. They increase the width of the framing package, and act a neutral space for the eye to rest while viewing the art. The glass can be strategically installed between the frame and liner to act as a spacer to keep the glazing safely away from the surface of the painting. It’s a tasteful look and a visually pleasing way to include added protection.
In the past, it was common practice to not seal the back of a framed painting package. Experts claimed that paintings needed to “breathe” or they may “sweat” and release moisture. However, recent research has revealed that as long as a painting has had sufficient time to fully dry and cure, it is perfectly acceptable to seal the back of a framed painting to protect from environmental factors like insects, dust, or airborne contaminants.
In summary: Glazing original paintings has its advantages, but is not always necessary. If you do choose glass, use a spacer or liner to keep it at least 1/4” away from fully cured artwork.