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Canvas paintings are beautiful works of art, but they can sometimes come with an annoying price: the smell. The smells on canvas paintings come from two basic sources. Mold or mildew growth that occurs when the canvas is left in damp conditions can result in a moldy smell. The other potential problem, which is more common, is a smell from the paints. Getting rid of the smells takes a little time, but is worth it in the end.
Determine the cause of the smell. The two basic causes are mildew growth or heavy smells from the paint. The more common cause is paint. If mildew is the cause, clean the canvas with an appropriate cleaner for the type of paint.
Leave the canvas in an area with good ventilation where it can air out. Painted canvas can have a smell due to the type of paint, but allowing ventilation and airing will often minimize smells.
Allow the paint to dry completely. In many cases, canvas smells will diminish as paints dry. In the case of oil paints, drying takes longer than other mediums, leading to longer periods of strong smells. Oil paints dry more slowly, while acrylics dry faster due to the materials.
Seal the paint with an appropriate sealer for the type of paint. Only when paints are dried completely should sealants be used, but they can minimize the smells.