How to Make Sure Your Art Lasts

By Alina Bradford

By Alina Bradford

Many artists dream about their art being treasured for generations. This can’t be done, though, if the artwork wasn’t made with archival and quality products.

There are two main considerations that the artist should think about before creating an artwork: How to choose a quality paper or canvas and what type of medium should go on top of it.

Paper and Canvas

No matter if the artist uses paper for watercolors, pastel, charcoal, graphite or colored pencils, the paper should

always be archival. All canvases should be archival, as well. Archival means that the paper or canvas was made in a certain way to ensure that it is long-lasting. Usually, this means that the paper or canvas was made acid-free.

Acids make paper or canvas yellow and deteriorate quite quickly.

For example, anyone who has saved a newspaper clipping has probably noticed that after a while the clipping becomes yellowed. This is due to the unstable quality of the paper.

Archival papers are also light-fast, lignin-free and alkaline-buffered.

To choose an archival canvas or art paper, look for products with the words “archival quality” or “archival guarantee” on the packaging or website product description.

Quality Paints

There are many types of paints, pigments and paint-like substances out there, so many artists ask questions like:

  • “Is it okay to use house paint for paintings?”
  • “Can I use lip gloss in my painting?”
  • “Can’t I save money by using student grade paints instead of professional grade?”
  • “Can I use food dyes or homemade paints?”

The answer to all of these questions is, “Yes, but it depends on the intentions for the piece of artwork.”

If the sole intention is getting a vision onto canvas or paper, then go for it. On the other hand, if the artist wants people to be able to look at the painting decades from now exactly how it was created, then the artist should consider alternate mediums.

House paint, lip gloss, food, student’s paints, etc. haven’t been tested for their ability to last over time. The process used to create professional grade fine art oils, watercolors, acrylics, temperas, etc. have been tested over decades to ensure lasting quality.

The artist can find alternative, quality mediums for even the most obscure ideas. For example, an opaque pearlescent, iridescent, metallic or interference acrylic would work just as well as lip gloss for creating a shimmery effect.

No matter what the support or medium, the artist should always look for brands that are made by companies that have been around for many years.

This way the artist knows that the brand has been tested for longevity and that their work will be around for generations to come.

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