How to Repair Damage to Watercolor Paintings

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Watercolors can be pigmented in a variety of shades.
Watercolors can be pigmented in a variety of shades. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Dirt and water damage on a watercolor painting can be removed, restoring the artwork to its previous state. Color fading can not be reversed; it can only be prevented, or stopped from fading further. Each type of damage has its own set of procedures when restoring the original artwork to its former glory. Cleaning dirt and debris from a water color painting is the simplest of them all.

Things You'll Need

  • Lysol
  • Paint brush
  • Bread

Water Damage

Remove the painting from the frame. Separate the watercolor from the glass frame immediately after it has become saturated. Leaving the image in place pressed against the glass results in the image being bonded permanently to the glass. Mold also begins to form after saturation.

Lay the watercolor on a flat, dry surface. Lay the artwork on a towel, blanket or on dry grass in the yard. Leave the artwork untouched until completely dry.

Mist the front and back of the watercolor with a light coating of spray Lysol. Do not substitute with a chemical that contains bleach. The damage incurred from the bleach is irreversible. Wait for the mold to dry out and become dormant. The mold will become powdery.

Brush the mold off of the watercolor lightly with a clean, dry, soft-bristled paint brush.

Insert the painting into the frame.

Dirt and Debris

Break a loaf of bread in half. Grab a handful of the white inner portion of the bread. Roll the dough into a ball.

Scrub the dough gently against the watercolor painting.

Replace the dough as the piece you are working with gets dirty.

Brush the bread crumbs off of the watercolor using a clean, dry, soft-bristled paint brush. Make sure that all bread crumbs have been removed from the painting.

Fade Prevention

Replace the glass in the frame with a UV3 coated Plexiglas. This will reflect the UV rays that cause the color to fade.

Move any watercolor artworks away from direct sunlight. Artwork with the UV3 Plexiglas will not prevent all UV rays from damaging the color in the painting. Direct sunlight can harm the color, or even raise the temperature of the painting altogether.

Avoid hanging watercolor paintings where the temperature of the artwork would rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid hanging on outside walls that are not properly insulated, over fireplaces or near furnace grates.

Replace all florescent lighting with incandescent light bulbs. Do not use direct lighting of any type on a watercolor.

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