O'Connor Art Conservation, LLC
Museum quality Conservation of Paintings
While browsing through the material, you may find this glossary of conservation terminology helpful.
Depending on the level of conservation needed to preserve the painting, a proposal can range from an aesthetic treatment where the tonal balance of the piece is recovered through cleaning; to stabilization of the layered structure where the paint and ground layers are consolidated; to full structural conservation where the support is repaired as in a tear repair or lining.

A typical treatment may involve all or some of the following:

Knowledge of artist's materials is critical in choosing the materials and method to clean a painting.
grime being removed with a cotton swab
Grime Removal: Years of dirt and grime can accumulate on the paint surface obscuring the image. An appropriate system to remove the grime is designed after careful examination and testing of the paint and grime layer.
varnish half-removed from the face of a portrait
Varnish thinning: Varnishes can discolor over time and disrupt the tonal balance of the painting. A yellowed natural resin varnish is removed on the right half of the painting.
The complex layered structure of a painting can cause inherent problems requiring conservation.
flaking paint
Flaking Paint: The paint and ground layers are lifting off of the support exposing the canvas beneath. These losses require consolidation to prevent further loss.
white fills where paint had flaked
Fills: Once the paint layer is secured to the support, the losses are filled to match the level and texture of the surrounding area. Fill material can be comprised of a variety of materials sympathetic to the properties of the painting.
Filled losses painted in a neutral base between flowers.
Inpainting: Filled losses are inpainted to match the original paint.
Retouched flowers just where losses were.
An isolating layer is applied and only the areas of filled loss are retouched.
Restoration of the support may be necessary if the support has been compromised, such as a tear in the fabric of a painting.
long vertical tear in painting of cat
Tear, before treatment
close-up of canvas with torn threads
Complex tear seen from the reverse.
re-aligning the fibers with a pair of tweezers
Re-aligning the fibers in preparation for tear repair.
painting of cat filled after tear repair.
During treatment, after fills.
painting of cat completely restored after treatment
After treatment.
The tacking margin, the edge of the painting that folds over the stretcher, secures the canvas to the wooden stretcher. It can become brittle and weak over time and was often removed entirely in old restorations if the painting was lined to a new fabric. Restoring the integrity of tacking margins is vital in supporting the painting.
Deteriorating tacking margins.
A strip lining is attached to reinforce deteriorated tacking margins.
Missing tacking margins being replaced.
Strip lining attached to replace missing tacking margins. The painting is being re-attached to the stretcher, first with push pins and then with tacks once proper placement and tension is achieved.
Anne O'Connor Conservator         www.oconnorartconservation.com