I have an original watercolor painting that was heavily soiled during Hurricane Katrina, and I was wondering what the best way to clean it would be, or should I even bother? The painting itself looks a little dusty, which is a thin layer of muck, consisting of whatever was flaoting around in the water, but it doesn't make the actual image look terribly bad. My concern more than the looks is, will the dirt layer cause the paper to deteriorate faster? Will cleaning it hurt it even more than the dirt itself? How do you clean a watercolor painting? I have cleaned hundreds of oil and acrylic paintings, but they aren't as fragile. I thought since the image stayed during all that water it could be cleaned, but I just don't have a clue how to go about it. Is there a chemical or anything I can use? Know a good restorer? Please help! Thank you in advance! :) By the way tha painting is done with top quality watercolors and is on top quality paper with high rag content.



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  • 4 Comments

    1. If the watercolor had been taken to a skilled and experienced art conservator it probably could have been visually improved, de-acidified and some anti-mold treatment given. Otherwise, it would be interesting to know, more than five years on, if it has deteriorated noticeably. Avoid damp storage! Report Abuse

    2. Take a sponge wet it or dont bother.

    3. Call a conservator at your local art museum. I’m sure they would offer helpful suggestions.

    4. Unfortunately, any liquid or chemical used to clean the surface of a watercolour painting will either discolour, disturb, or remove the paint from the paper. The difference between these and acrylic/oil paintings is that the paint remains soluble even when dry. Also, many of the pigments in watercolour paint are sensitive to other chemicals, particularly chlorine and ammonia.Dust the surface with a soft natural hair brush, at most you might try removing some dirt with an artgum eraser (these crumble when used), testing it carefully first. But sadly, that’s the limit of what can be done. If there’s any mold or mildew starting, it will only advance. Sorry :-(