How Long Does Oil Paint Last On Canvas?

Many art pieces are timeless, but sadly, like all things, they have a limited life. Oil paintings are one of the prevalent art pieces you may wonder about. If so, here is a very quick guide that will help you understand how long an oil painting can last on a canvas.

Oil paint has different life expectancies in a tube and on canvas. This is because of the storage environment and the many other factors that we will be outlining below. Typically, oil paint on a canvas can last for a few centuries. But this also largely depends on how the painting has been sealed, protected and stored.

If the oil painting has been varnished, it can last for a few hundred years. However, if it hasn’t, then the lifespan can reduce significantly. This will largely depend on the storage environment of your painting. Keeping the piece in the right surrounding atmosphere can ensure that the oil paint has a high life expectancy.

Factors That Affect The Life Of Oil Paint On A Canvas

Many factors affect the lifespan of oil paint on a canvas. The main ones are light and heat.

Oil paint on a canvas can be susceptible to light if exposed to it for too long, which is why you must ensure that the painting does not get prolonged exposure to sunlight or even room light. Otherwise, the painting may undergo a chemical reaction that may result in visible damage. For instance, its colour may fade away or change.

Temperature also plays an integral role in the life expectancy in most types of paints. Typically, a high temperature causes the oil paint to become soft and even melt depending on the level of heat. And any damage caused by a high temperature is irreversible. This is why you should avoid storing your canvas in a place that experiences a warm environment or is prone to receiving excessive sunlight.

Furthermore, a canvas is made up of wooden frame, and wood stretches over time causing the canvas to expand and contract. In such conditions, an oil painting can start to crack and peel in most cases. A basement is a prime example of a location where you should not keep an oil paint canvas, because of the common level of humidity there.

A clean environment is a must for the storage of oil painting canvases. This is because dirt can attach itself to the paint surface. Thus, the design and aesthetics of the painting may suffer. And once dirt attaches to oil paint, removing it may not be an easy task, especially if it has become mouldy.

Some Tips To Make Your Oil Painting Last Longer

Here are some useful tips that will help to increase the life of the oil painting:

  • Seal the painting with varnish
  • Store the painting at a cool temperature
  • Do not expose to excessive light and heat
  • Keep the oil painting clean, but do not use harsh cleaning products
  • If you haven’t started the painting yet, then use a linen canvas rather than a cotton canvas, as linen is stronger and can last longer

However, you should note that your oil painting will start to darken with time regardless of the conditions. This is because of the chemical reactions it undergoes. The main thing is that the transformation can be gradual or prompt depending, again, on your storage methods.

Another thing to note is that some pigment components make your oil paint more prone to ageing. Thus, you should remember all these factors to understand the life expectancy of your artwork.