What is Conservation?



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Paintings are fragile and changes are to be expected.  Many changes do not threaten the stability of a painting and are not considered damage. Physical damage is the most common form of damage to an oil painting.  Abrasions and dent-like impressions, tears, holes or punctures in a canvas support can be caused by poor storage or handling, household accidents and natural disasters.   Prolonged exposure to extremes of dryness, humidity, heat or cold with little air flow will make a painting susceptible to structural damage.   

Interventive conservation refers to the direct interaction between the conservator and the cultural material. This includes cleaning, stabilizing, repair, or even replacement of parts of the original object. These kinds of interventive conservation treatments take place in our studio which is a modern, well equipped work area. Each treatment is done by highly trained and experienced individuals committed to preserving each artist’s vision by treating the physical object to insure its long term preservation while staying true to the artist’s original intent; the aesthetic and appearance that the original artist desired.

The treatment of each artwork is based on a thorough assessment of its condition and a well thought out treatment plan. Treatments range from simple grime removal and re-varnishing the painted surface to a complete aesthetic and structural treatment including the removal of grime and discolored varnish, reversal of old, poorly done and crude restorations, tear repairs, adhesive consolidation of insecure areas of the paint layer, and reinforcement of the original fabric support as well as filling and inpainting losses and application of new varnish.

Treatment Gallery

The Monk:This painting was in poor condition. The surface  was covered with an accumulation of  significant grime.  There was extreme tenting and associated flake loss caused by the shrinking of the canvas with exposure to humidity fluctuations.

The painting was removed from its stretcher. Cracks, flakes, tenting were relaxed consolidated.  Then the painting was lined and restretched onto its original stretcher.  Once the grime was removed,  the losses were filled and inpainted.

Gloria:  The painting was damaged in a fire.  The painting surface was protected by a moderately thick natural resin varnish, which was scorched by heat and  severely discolored to brown and black.  Due to extreme heat, there was extensive flaking and losses of paint around the edges. 

Before TreatmentThe painted surface was a moderately thick varnish, which was scorched by heat.
The painting surface is a moderately thick varnish, which was scorched by heat.
During Treatment Partially CleanedThe varnish had to be reduced from the surface of the painting.
The varnish had to be reduced from the surface of the painting.
During Treatment Partially CleanedLosses and irregularities were inpainted.
Losses and irregularities were inpainted
After TreatmentAfter Treatment Detail
After Treatment
The severely scorched varnish coating was reduced from the surface and the soot on the reverse of the painting was removed.  The flaking paint was consolidated.  Minor losses of the paint film were filled. Losses and irregularities were inpainted, using a referential aid of a pre-fire damage photograph provided by the owner. 

Evangeline: This pastel painting fell from a wall, causing a large cross-shaped tear along with numerous scratches and gouges.

The tear was mended and relaxed using a special technique.  The surface plane was locally relaxed.  Losses were filled and inpainted.  A custom backing was constructed and fixed to the reverse in order to assist in the future stabilization of the painting.

Harbor Scene:There were significant tears in the canvas as well as planar distortions,  fraying and  flake loss attending the tears.  Fabric patches were adhered over old  damages  on the reverse side.  The varnish layer discolored to yellow and there was a significant amount of grime and overpaint.

The loose, lifting and flaking paint attending the tears was locally consolidated.  The old patches were removed from the reverse. The grime as well as overpaint was removed from the surface of the painting.  The tears were mended and linen inserts attached.  The losses were filled and inpainted.