Gathering Dust

Q. I have oil paintings sitting around that, I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t cover up. Now they have a layer of dust on them. How can I dust them off without harming them?

A. All paintings, even the ones hanging on your walls, need a regular dusting. Never use a cloth or any liquids to clean artwork done in oil paint—the cloth can catch and break off any impasto applications of paint, and moisture can blanch paint or varnish layers. Also remember not to use a feather duster, because broken feathers will scratch the surface of the painting. Paintings may be dusted with a broad, soft-hair artist’s brush such as the 4-inch wide badger-hair brush. It’s important to wrap the ferrule, or metal ring, of the brush in soft tape to keep from accidentally scratching the painting’s surface. To properly dust, hold the image upright, and draw the brush horizontally across the painting, working your way down its surface.

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