Oil Painting Cleaning and Repair

The basic thought on restoration is that you do not add or take away anything that the artist did or did not intend. The service that I offer is cleaning and repair as opposed to restoration. Cleaning removes years of dirt and smoke while leaving the varnish intact. In olden days Dammar Varnish was used and does yellow over time. It is an expensive, timely and toxic procedure to remove varnish and not only do I not want to do it, but it is also not what most people want.

When repairing holes or tears in a painting, again most people would rather it look as close to perfect as possible, rather than the restoration approach in which tempura paint is used instead of oil (on an oil painting) as it can be removed. Under no circumstances should a ‘patch’ ever be used. If someone suggests applying a patch to the back of the tear on the canvas, it is clear that they do not know what they are doing. A patch will shrink at a different rate than the original canvas and will not only show through as a tighter area, but over a very short time, it will appear as a flat lump and cause egg shell fracturing of the paint and varnish around the patched area.

Pricing:  General cleaning will be 50 cents per square inch of canvas. Prices will be higher for Impasto, non-Gessoed canvases or those in very poor condition. Repair quotes are on an individual basis, but must be cleaned first. All cleaning and repair jobs are a 50% deposit with the remainder due upon completion. Paintings should have a ‘Coroplast’ backing rather than leave the back of the canvas open to bugs and the elements, but that is up to the individual and are minimal in cost. The majority of the works that I clean and/or repair have more sentimental value than monetary, so in some cases of extreme damage or fragility I may advise ‘wet-mounting’ the canvas onto a sturdy backing. This would never be done to valuable works of art, but in the case of a valuable work, an art restoration company may advise adding a liner by bonding another canvas to the back of the painting to preserve it from further damage.

Ornate gilt frames with missing areas of plaster can also be repaired. Individual quotes on request after seeing the frame.

or call 905-528-4197

Below are some examples of cleaning and repair.



Oil Landscape Before Cleaning


Oil Landscape After Cleaning

In progress:

Oil painting cleaning in progress 008

In progress:


Before: a 4 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ puncture and tear.


Before cleaning: threads are re-attached from back.


After cleaning & repair:  a first layer of oil is applied.


After repair:

IMG_00000473 (2)

Before repair:


During repair:


After repair:


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