Before and After: Painting Restoration

restoring a painting

Before and After: Painting Restoration

Anyone familiar with the television show Gilmore Girls knows how obsessed Emily Gilmore is with antiques. The matriarch of the Gilmore family is always on the hunt for the next big find, whether it’s at an auction or a little store in Stars Hollow. My favorite antiquing scene happens at Kim’s Antiques with Emily and her granddaughter Rory. Rory notices a sweet piece with flowers carved into it and shows it to her grandmother.

Rory: “Is it something special?”

Emily: “Do you like it?”

Rory: “Yeah.”

Emily: “Then it’s something special.”

Fantastic advice. This is the approach we take in our studio and in our own lives. If a piece means something to you, then that’s all it needs to be special. My grandmother gave me an antique purple and white cow creamer called Elsie, named after the Borden Dairy mascot. It’s quirky and fun, and I smile when I see it. One of the best parts of working at Coyle is discovering the objects that bring out that same special feeling in our clients.

Painting Restoration Process

One of our clients brought in a painting that belonged to their grandmother. The piece was torn in the center and dirty due to age and storage. It was a beautiful painting that had tremendous sentimental value. Our task was to repair, clean, and restore this landscape to its original glory.

painting restoration
The first step in a painting restoration is a surface cleaning test. A test allows the conservator to analyze cleaning methods, assess the damage, and provide a treatment plan. After the client reviews the plan, the repair and cleaning can begin.

A painting restoration often takes weeks or months to finish. Each painting will have their own treatment plan, but there are always multiple steps in this process, such as removing varnish, consolidating paint loss, repair, removing dirt and grime, inpainting, and more. Paintings are sensitive objects, and many of these steps require time and patience to complete. A conservator will work on a piece in small increments to avoid overhandling.

Custom Framing a Painting

The end result of this restoration is striking. Amy not only repaired the piece, but her cleaning revealed a vibrant painting, as seen in the trees and stream. It was a fascinating transformation to witness.

painting restoration
Our client chose a gorgeous wood frame with an embossed pattern across the face of the moulding. We stacked the frame on top of a linen liner, a wood frame wrapped in fabric. Liners add texture and depth to a piece of art, create breathing room between the frame and art, and help visually draw the viewer’s eye toward the painting. The overall look is a mixture of classic and modern, a beautiful family heirloom that would make anyone feel special looking at it.

restoring a paintingTips to Keep Your Painting Healthy

Whether your painting is 100-years-old or 10-years-old, there are steps you can take to keep it healthy. 

  • Keep a clean home. Paintings are absorbent and will soak up the dirt, dust, and smoke in your home.
  • Check the back of the painting for dust. You can use an old brush to lightly brush away the dust on the back.
  • Keep paintings away from the fireplace. If you do decide to hang a painting over the fireplace, consider adding glazing and a conservation seal to your painting to help create a safe microenvironment for your piece.
  • Humidity will impact your art. Too much humidity, and your art will warp. Too little humidity, and your art will crack. Keep the humidity in your home to around 50%.
  • Bring your painting to a professional for light cleaning as needed.

To learn more about keeping your art healthy, check out this blog post.