Questions about an oil painting

ivamaeJuly 8, 2012

About 25 years ago I received an oil painting as a gift. This was done by a non professional, but is very beautiful.

I'm trying to downsize a bit and I gave this to my daughter. She noticed that there are a few spots on it, and it appears to have picked up some yellowish color, probably from second hand smoke. We don't know if there is any special coating over the oil paint but am wondeing if there is any way that she can safely clean this off and brighten it up a bit. It is a lovely painting and she does really want to try. She read that a solution af lemon juice and water might work but is leery of trying that. Do any of you have any sugestions or advice?

Thanks in advance.

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I would take it to a gallery that sells paintings. They could look at it and tell you if you can do it or have it done professionally. I would not mess with any home remedies etc.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 8:30PM
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Me either, no home remedies for cleaning. I have used a white pencil ereaser to clean an oil paintings white liner tho.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 9:34PM
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I'm a collector and have had luck with a very mild mixture of ivory soap and water when I've needed to clean some of my prizes. But...use an extremely light touch. Never scrub or use any abrasive tools! And...if possible...try this solution in an area of the painting where it won't a corner or folded over canvas on the frame...if that exists. Just wet the rag, squeeze it out to a semi dry state and dab away. If the rag turns the color of the suspected'll know it's working. This treatment is best for oil paintings only. Unless you are absolutely positive that the artist used 100% oil as suggested above and consult with a professional cleaner.

Above all...don't use the lemon solution. Lemon contains an acid [citric acid] that could do harm.

The only other solution I've used with good results is a mild mixture using Simple Green and water but for recommendation purposes...I'd prefer that you stick with the ivory soap solution.

Once the canvas is clean...use clear water on a clothe to remove any of the soap mixture and gently dry the canvas with a dry clothe.



    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 9:56PM
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The yellowish color might be aged orange shellac. It won't clean off if it is.
I have cleaned oil paintings with a very mild solution of Murphy's Oil soap and water (and you can clean walls with it too). Use a mild soap in more water than the bottle calls for and an almost dry wrung out rag. I would blot, test in an inconspicuous place. The paintings I cleaned were damaged by smoke from fires. Some were damaged beyond repair, but some were saved.
If you really want to do a test, but an old painting at a thrift store and try a bunch of methods.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:37AM
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Go to Hobby Lobby and buy a product called an art gum eraser - it's made especially for cleaning up a painting. I have oil paintings and it works to clean them - just gently rub it over the spots. Try it in an inconspicuous spot to see if it works for you.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:03AM
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kathy has the right idea, in fact oil paint (white and light pigments) tend to yellow over time due to the linseed oil used as a painting medium, esp. older works. You won't be able to lighten or whiten these areas.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 10:36AM
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Thanks everyone for the help. I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:00PM
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I want to thank everyone for your suggestions. I do really appreciate them.

I have replied twice with this " thank you" and neither one showed up. Sorry about that. We'll see if this one does.

thanks again

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:04PM
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