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Amazing Art/Materials Resource Site + How to Store Paintings

Kensington Hilltop School, ink & watercolor
Kensington Hilltop School, ink & watercolor (a beautiful school above a wonderful park at the very tip-top of Kensington hills)

In my last post I asked for advice on sorting and storing completed oil paintings on panels. Along with the good suggestions from readers,  I found a fantastic website that provides the answers to these and many other questions about proper handling of artwork and art materials of all kinds.

The website is (Art Materials Information and Education Network), “a resource for artists dedicated to providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased factual information about artists’ materials.”  They are part of the education department of the Intermuseum Conservation Association.

AMIEN’s forums are the place to find information to all our questions about proper use, handling, storage, shipping, application, etc. of art materials and finished art work or all kinds. Here is a portion of what they say (more here) about storing oil paintings on panels:

Store your paintings standing on edge, one next to the other, with a piece of acid-free paper loosely covering the face of each painting. You can tape the paper to the back of the panel and fold it over the front.

Ideally, you will put these paintings in a rack, elevated off the floor, in some location that is relatively dust-free and not subject to wild swings of temperature and relative humidity. Even more ideally, each painting ought to be separated from the others, but that would take a very large rack. Second best: You should not have more than about 5 paintings leaning against each other; separate the groups of paintings.

AMIEN’s forums cover topics like Watercolors, Pastel, Encaustics, Acrylic Paints, Supports, Grounds, Solvents and Thinners, Varnishes, Pigments, Color charts, Oil Paints and Mediums, Alkyds, Mural Paints and Techniques, Colored Pencils, Printmaking, Photography and Printed Digital Media, Matting, Framing and Labeling, Picture Protection, Crating, Shipping, Storage, Conservation, Hazards and much more.

About the sketch at top: Friday afternoons I have the pleasure of spending time with two lovely 11-year-old girls who still like to swing and play make-believe games on playground equipment. I discovered Kensington Hilltop School while hiking in the hills on the weekend and brought them there the next week. They played, I sketched, we had fun.

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Between a Rock and… a Request for Help

Moss Rock Grows Moss, ink, Pentel Brush Pen & watercolor
Moss Rock Grows Moss (typo--it's 2011!) ink, Pentel Brush Pen & watercolor

After ten years this very large rock sold to me as a “Moss Rock” and installed in my front garden has finally grown a patch of moss. It looked so pretty and the day was unseasonably warm and sunny so I couldn’t resist going out to sketch it. I sat on my porch and drew the mossy rock while my usually indoor kitties joined me in the sun.

And now my request for advice:

I need help figuring out how to sort/store my oil paintings. I have at least a hundred oil paintings and plein air studies on panels (probably more) that I’ve done over the past few years. I’m sure for some people it’s simple: just sell them all.

But if you’re like me and still have many paintings on hand, I’d love to hear how you organize, catalog, store and/or protect them from damage. I have many watercolors on paper in large flat files sorted by subject matter, with drawers labeled accordingly. But I haven’t figured out a good system for my oils.

When I get a request from someone wanting to purchase a painting it can be challenging to find it and I always have my fingers crossed that it hasn’t gotten damaged.

My questions:

ORGANIZING: Do you store your paintings by subject? Size? Date? Inventory number (requires entering in art tracking program)? OR…just skip the organizing and spend the time painting instead?!!

STORAGE: Should they be separated with wax paper when stored touching each other? Does it matter if they’re in the dark?  My garage is fairly dry but not insulated so is affected by weather. Is it ok to store oils on panels in Clearbag envelopes to protect their surface?

At the beginning of the year I usually sort through the past year’s paintings stored vertically on shelves like books in my studio. I dump the losers, label the keepers, and move older paintings to shelves in the garage. This year I had the flu during my two-week holiday vacation so never did the “dump and sort” so paintings have piled up in the studio shelves and storage closet and there are more drying.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Still Working on my Website

Nearby Hiking Trail
Hiking Trail above El Cerrito Recycling Center

I wish I was out walking and sketching again on this trail near my house instead of working on rebuilding my website all weekend. I was determined to finish tonight but I still have a few more hours of work and it’s time for bed.

I spent several hours this morning looking at the Squarespace web hosting platform and it’s so much more customizable and comprehensive (and complex) than the system I’ve been working with on Network Solutions. I came so close to chucking everything and starting over on Squarespace. But with only the last 10 percent left to do I decided to just finish even though it won’t be perfect.

At the same time I’ve been adding pictures and descriptions to my website, I’ve been entering the same data in an artist’s database called eArtist. It’s a fantastic program and works beautifully. You can track everything about each artwork, which then links to any exhibitions, sales, collectors, print editions and more. It’s easy and quick to use and the proprietor provides excellent support. I only wish I’d started doing that a long time ago.

I really appreciate those of you who said you’d be willing to look over my website when it’s ready and give me feedback. I’ll be in touch very soon (I hope!)