Taking Care of Watercolor Paintings
Watercolor paintings can be quite fragile, depending on the surface, aka support, used to create them and how they are handled after being painted.
Make sure the artist uses Professional Artist grade watercolor paper, acid free & archival quality. Here is some info from the Dick Blick FAQ.
Professional grade papers are acid and lignin free, made of cotton fiber rather than cellulose. They are both stronger and more enduring. With proper treatment, a painting on professional paper can last hundreds of years. The paper’s texture and surface is brought out by the transparency of watercolor paints, and is one of the desirable qualities of a fine watercolor painting.
Watercolor paper weights of 90 lb., 140 lb. & 300 lb. are common. Many artists also use Yupo paper, prepared Masonite-type panels or watercolor canvases – stetched or sheets.
I generally use
- Strathmore brand papers for my artwork … http://www.strathmoreartist.com/ – I trust them and know I am using a safe quality product when I buy their brand.
- When buying watercolor canvas, generally mine is Fredrix Artist Canvas: http://www.taramaterials.com/artistcanvas/ or the Master’s Touch brand currently sold at Hobby Lobby.
- And for prepared boards, generally Aquaboard: http://www.ampersandart.com/aquabord.html.
I’ve never used Yupo paper [Yupo: http://www.yupousa.com/paper/applications/artists] but I have purchased a painting done on Yupo paper from an artist friend [Ann Ranlett Paintings with Petzazz]. The color is fabulous but the paper looks really slick and quite unforgiving to me for painting with watercolors – I do not need the stress quite yet of trying to do it … perhaps some day for fun though.
Do not put anything on a watercolor painting except an acid free framing mat, or possibly, archival quality watercolor paper instead of a framing mat.
Watercolor paintings are meant to be framed behind glass. There should be a ridge of at least 1/8″ from the surface of the painting and the glass. A painting that is matted will help preserve this space. from How to Care for Watercolor Paintings
Do not touch the painting with your hands & fingers, etc.
Body/skin oils can damage the paper. They might leave fingerprints or marks that can’t be fixed or removed … or moisture from your skin could re-wet the watercolor paints and smear them, effectively ruining your painting.
Do not display watercolor paintings in direct sunlight, not even using UV glass.
Most professional watercolor paintings use high lightfast pigments but there are degrees in the various pigments from various companies. Some colors, like reds and yellows for example, can easily fade over time when placed in direct sunlight. Indirect light is best for watercolor paintings. Indirect lighting reduces glare from the glass over the painting as well as protects from sun fading.
Disply watercolors using only archival, acid-free materials.
Use archival acid-free matboard for framing & matting watercolor paintings, including the backing matboard. DO NOT USE CARDBOARD! Acids can leach out of cardboard & ruin a watercolor painting. Using a backing mat behind the painting creates extra space between the painting paper & the frame just like the mat frame in front creates extra space between the painting and the frame.
Do not display or store watercolor paintings in damp, wet or high humidity locations.
Usually, watercolor paintings are not varnished so they have no protection against household moistures. Steamy bathrooms, damp basements, root cellars or saunas are not good locations to hang or store watercolor paintings, even when framed. Framing DOES NOT protect against moisture. Moisture getting between the painting and the glass can wash out colors or even cause the paint to run and smear.
Take good care of your watercolor painting and it will be a treasure to pass down to your grandchildren’s great-grandchildren too.