Art Restoration 101

As an avid art collector (I go on the hunt for a new painting every time I travel) I know how disheartening it can be when a piece falls victim to a household accident or even just the ravages of time. But don't despair! With a little TLC from the right professional, there is a good chance your painting can be restored to its former beauty.

If, like a recent client of mine whose family heirloom painting got a puncture wound from a lively child, you find yourself with artwork in need of some help, whatever you do, do not attempt to clean or repair it yourself. Every piece has different needs and even the most lauded 'DIY' advice on the internet (such as rubbing a cut bagel over a painting's dusty surface or using decoupage glue to adhere a canvas patch to the tear - yikes!) could cause further damage. Instead, seek the help of an art restoration specialist, known as an 'art conservator.'

Conservators have extensive training (at least a master's degree, as well as training alongside a seasoned professional).  They understand art materials and techniques used throughout history as well as actual repair methods. They're trained artists themselves in a sense!

My go-to conservator is Adam Jaroszynski from Broadway Galleries in Virginia.  Take a look at some of these before and after restoration shots.  Adam is truly gifted.

For those of you science geeks, here is a link to Scientific America that describes how nano-particles, laser cleaning, and glue-eating bacteria restore valuable frescoes and painting.  

Just having a conservator clean an old piece can transform it and bring it back to life - perfect for those forgotten canvases you find in the corners of dusty antique shops.

Of course, you don't need to have museum-quality pieces to warrant the use of a conservator (I'm a firm believer that it's possible to collect art on any budget; see a few of my favorite art sources in this post). Even if your investment is more sentimental than financial, you'll be able to readily find a quality restorer by inquiring at museums or art galleries.

Paintings are not the only items that can be restored.  Take a look at this garden sculpture that Adam restored.

If your art does have monetary value and you've insured it, you'll want to contact your insurance company before hiring a conservator so you don't violate the terms of your policy. They'll provide you with the name of someone they work with regularly. This article from the Wall Street Journal has more great information about preserving the value of art that's been damaged.

Do you have damaged artwork tucked away that you're now inspired to have repaired? Or are you inspired to go and find old, damaged artwork to have restored? For many of you who shop estate sales and auctions, make sure to take a look at any paintings that might be for sale.  With a professional cleaning, you might have a real gem on your hands.

Here is a fun article about some incredible treasures that were found while thrifting.

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.
— Leonardo da Vinci



Liza JonesComment