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The Painting Doctor

Specializing in the Restoration of Oil Paintings
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What is Restoration?

Most things “age”, and oil paintings are no different. Over time, the vibrancy and physical condition of a painting may become compromised  by many things – the smoke from being hung above wood-burning fireplaces, damage incurred during display or storage, darkening due to the chemical changes of the original protective varnish, and just the slow, progressive deterioration caused by air-born dust. “Restoration” is the general term used to describe a range of processes that can be done to restore and repair an oil painting to its original aesthetic appearance.  In broad terms, these processes include:

  • Cleaning of dirt, smoke, grime, and the accumulated “stuff” that adheres to the surface of an oil painting.

  • Removal of old varnish. Most oil paintings have had one or more coats of a varnish applied as both a protection for the more delicate painted surfaces as well as for its effect of enhancing colors. Over time, varnish begins to darken. Combined with the accumulation of years of dirt, smoke, and grime, the result is a painting that has become dark, with many details obscured or dimmed.

  •  Repair of holes, scratches, peeling, or other damage to the surface of the painting. Many paintings have been damaged by accidents, vandalism, attempts by untrained persons to “clean” it, and poor storage or display. Holes need to be patched, and “inpainting” needs to be done to match the colors and unify the painting to a near-new condition. In most cases, inpainting can not be detected in the finished work (see Gallery).

  • Application of new varnish. Similar to the last step when your painting was newly-painted, a varnish is applied to protect your valued art so it is again ready for many more years of display and enjoyment.

Why would I consider having my painting restored?

Most oil paintings have not been painted by Vincent Van Gogh or Claude Monet, but they were painted by an artist whose work has traveled through time.  Most paintings are not worth many thousands of dollars, but their value to their owners has increased for many reasons. Each oil painting has its own history and holds a treasured place in the life of a family.

  • Perhaps your painting shows the likeness of a long-dead ancestor. In many cases, the painting may pre-date photography and represents the only visual link to a part of your family’s past.

  • Perhaps your oil painting traveled to America clutched in the hands of an ancestor who proudly stepped ashore on Ellis Island.

  • Perhaps your oil painting represents the first artistic attempts of your grandfather, and while the barn is not quite in perspective, it shows your family’s original homestead on the Great Plains.

  • Perhaps you just like it! Art, in its final analysis, is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps you bought your old painting on your honeymoon in a small antique shop and viewing it reminds you of happy times and loved ones.

  • While most of us did not take out a second mortgage to purchase our painting, its purchase did represent some hard decisions and expenditure well beyond our day-to-day acquisitions. As such, we wish to maintain our investment.

  • Perhaps… Well, suffice it to say, each painting deserves the best. Restoration can help.

What restoration services do you provide?

  • Repair holes, tears, and scratches
  • Repair water damage
  • Removal of smoke and dirt
  • Repair of flaking, peeling, cracking, or "bubbling" paint
  • Clean painting by removing darkening and/or yellowing varnish
  • Repair loose and chipped paint
  • Reline canvases that are falling apart
  • Remove Creases
  • Restretch loose canvas
  • Inpaint missing or damaged "content" that matches the artist's original color palette and brush technique