As promised, here are photos of the painting completed last week that show the retouching under UV light. The first photo shows the painting before retouching with just the white fill in medium where the paint was lost. The second photo shows the painting after retouching but exposed to UV light that reveals all of the retouching. And the final photo shows the painting after retouching and varnish in visible light. As you can see, just because the retouching cannot be seen by the naked eye in visible light, UV light will reveal every dab and dot of paint that has been added. For almost all of my clients, including those that are museums and large institutions, fully re-integrated retouching is what they prefer; they want the experience of seeing the painting as the artist intended it to be available to the viewer. And in those instances where large sections of the painting have been lost the client trusts the conservator to use their judgment, skill, and research to find a way of putting the image back together such that the damage doesn’t interfere with the image writ large and become the focal point thus destroying the artists overarching vision. The use of isolation layers, archival and reversible paints have rendered many of the arguments against this type of retouching moot, in my opinion. As all of this work can be removed if so desired the argument to employ an approach that still reveals the damage seems odd as we can easily reveal that damage with UV light. this is a never ending topic of debate within the conservation community and there are varying opinions from fully revealing the damage to fully concealing the damage and none of these opinions or approaches are better than the other, they are just different. Each conservator and each client must work together to find a solution that respects the artist, the artwork, the client, and the conservator, and all of these techniques should be on the table. it is very easy to pass judgment without knowing the specifics and details of any one project, and those matter profoundly.
One final post today so that everyone can tell me how to do my job 😜 Lately I’ve been taking a lot more frame conservation work as my clients desire it and while I have a lot to learn I’m really enjoying it. Here you can see the frame and the liner I’m working on resting atop it. The liner was wrapped in green velvet. GREEN VELVET!! That had to go; it was terrible. The client wanted the liner to match the frame so after striping it and leafing it with Dutch leaf I worked to match the existing finish. The second photo shows the final result- the liner is the top section in the photo. Not bad, eh?
There’s more to the retouching process than simply matching colors. If the preparation of the areas of loss isn’t perfect then no matter how good the color matching is the damage can easily be seen with a raking light. Here you can see just after the varnish has been applied, when the surface is still highly reflective, a raking light does not reveal the areas of damage. If I could see the areas of loss, I’d remove the varnish, remove the retouching and work the fill-in again to ensure there would be no issue. But just because this is all invisible to the naked eye does not mean that it’s completely hidden. Exposing this painting to a black light, or ultraviolet light will reveal all of the paint that I have added to the painting ensuring that my work is clear and honest. I’m out of the studio today but when I return on Monday I’ll post a photo of this painting under UV so you can see what I’m talking about.
Another video of retouching the other major tear on the painting from yesterday. This one was a bit more straight forward and “easy” but still requires the same precision and attention to detail. This piece is privately owned and the client wanted full integration retouching (mimitec) such that the damage disappeared. The painting received an isolation of if-stable synthetic resin varnish and the retouching was executed in archival and reversible Maimeri restuaro paints mixed with a uv-stable synthetic resin (a different one than the varnish) to facilitate workability, body and UV stability. A final coat of the first resin varnish was applied after the work was complete. All of the materials used, ALL of the materials are archival and fully reversible so that if in the future Andy of this work needs to be removed (either during another conservation or because a different approach is desired) it can be done so without subjecting the painting to any risk of harm. All of this information is documented in photograph and reports presented to the client and stored in my database. This is one approach to addressing major damage on a painting, there are countless others each with benefits and drawbacks and it’s up to the conservator working on the painting to consult with the client and determine which approach will best address the damage and satisfy the client.
Retouching. The best and worst part of conservation. When everything is going well it’s an amazing feeling and time stands still. When it’s not going well, it’s miserable and never seems to end. This painting had two large tears in pretty important places and after addressing the structural issues the retouching focused on reintegrating the image. This one was challenging, delicate and exciting. With so much of the figure missing it’s harder to make the damage disappear but that challenge is what makes it exciting and fun. I don’t know what the figure looked like prior to the damage so my retouching is based on what’s left of the figure, the other figures and the artist’s style. Using those elements and within those bounds I get to be creative...
I talk a lot about how the materials and techniques I use are reversible and here is a prime example of that. I had mended a small tear using the bridging technique that I am very fond of. The client accidentally damaged the painting and now it needs to be lined. Before I can do the lining I have to remove the bridging and as you can see it’s really quite simple.
This painting that made a cameo in my last YouTube video was just approved by the client 🤩. For reference, that test window is about 1” x 1 1/2” and the painting is 6’ x 9’ And you can bet your sweet behinds that this is going to be a video... it just might not be done for a while ☺️ Anyhow, if you’re in the States, the Labor Day weekend is coming; don’t do any work! And if you’re not, well you too get a weekend; enjoy it!! See y’all on Tuesday! 🍻
Replacing one gigantic sh!tty patch with a smaller sh!tty patch... 🤦♂️ I’ll remove all of this and repair the small tears locally with a much less invasive footprint.
Just a little before and after of a painting by A.T. Hibbard. I was speaking with a journalist the other day and they recounted to me that in conversations with other conservators they were told that the posting of dramatic before/after photos was frowned upon and discouraged. Umm Ok.... ..... .........