by Valerius Boyko

How to define? How to distinguish quality? It is not very complicated. Everyone can manage with this task just knowing some simple facts.

Painting. This word sounds romantic. Talent the charisma embodied on canvas. It charms by incomprehensible force of influence on a person. It strengthens the tired, inspires the carried away, tames the irascible, calms the unhappy, and revives the disappointed. At all times wealthy people were interested in pictures collecting. Large companies and banks got own museums, successfully investing money in future rarities and trying to get not only considerable image but the fame of patrons of art. Even frankly poor works of artists in fifty years got the antiques status. However there is no point to purchase poor or short-living work which is cheap and defective in something. Short-living painting can be a very remarkable work of the artist, but executed on poor, cheap art materials. How to define? How to distinguish quality? It is not very complicated. Everyone can manage with this task just knowing some simple facts. Do not hurry up to purchase. First ask politely to examine the work. Remember, for each artist his work is his baby, and being a parent he worries about his child. Be correct. Try to avoid categorical judgments. All artists feel the emotions and do not stand the arrogance.

Direct a canvas to a light source and look at it carefully. First, if it has craquelure cracks, do not buy the painting. This work is already damaged. Then, if it has translucent points, so-called sieve, it means that sizing and ground are weak and they need to be strengthened in future. Ask the artist, what canvas, sizing and ground he uses. The best canvas is the one from the special shop. Canvases from Western Europe and the USA are good as well. So-called fund canvases are a little bit worse. Canvases of dry stretch should be avoided. They are sensitive for dampness and are used for making computer copies. If the artist prepares a canvas himself it is very important that the sizing and ground were on acryl basis of manufacturing production. If the author says that he uses a self-made ground, just know that the basis includes organic chemistry, usually gelatin. And do not take serious the artist ode about recipes of old masters. During former times dust mites ate what they were supposed to eat: pillows, feather blankets and dust. Nowadays polyester material replaces the natural and vacuum cleaners allow to get rid of dust mites. Therefore these microscopic invisible animals can quite lodge in a picture and eat the canvas in 10-20 years. Mould and fungi like to lodge in organic grounds and sizing as well. Naturally such microflora and fauna does not add endurance to a canvas. Self-made canvases have another hidden defect. It would be hard to foresee consequences if the master hasnt stuck to the technology. In some time the paint can start to bubble or exfoliate and cracks will appear. If it is not possible to define the breach of canvas preparation technology visually, use a touch method. Run your fingers tips over the back side of work. Pressing should be gentle and sliding. If you feel a slight crackle, it means that canvas has microcracks inside which is the evidence of unreliability. The same crackle can be felt if author used the expired or incompatible art materials, including paint. Rarely the crackle means that work painted above another work or it is altered. In any case, the crackle doesnt mean anything good for painting safety.

Also check up a stretcher four laths where canvas is fastened. If you look from within make sure there is a slant, you should see an interval between a canvas and a lath. If slant is absent, in some time an ugly hem or even cracks may appear on the front side. It is desirable, that the stretcher was museum, on wedges. If a work sags in time or its corners have waves, you can easily eliminate a roughness by driving the wedges. However do not hasten to do it. The canvas is slowly stretching again especially in dry premises and in the condition of humidity drop. First try to sprinkle a picture from the backside in places of roughness. It causes the effect of relaxation, and when a canvas dries the effect of stretching. If necessary repeat humidifying.

Please pay a special attention on a paint surface. The artwork should be covered by a varnish, either glossy or matt. If you see a shining surface it is a glossy varnish. If the surface does not shine either the matt varnish is put or the varnish covering is missing at all. Absence of a varnish leads to artwork "extinction". Paints shrivel and darken. This process begins right after paint drying and progresses in time. This effect can be compared with a simple phenomenon which you may observe on the sea. The beautiful stone taken from water loses the beauty when gets dry. But if you wet it again the stone gains its attractiveness. The varnish covering of oil painting causes a similar action. Besides, varnishes carry out a protective layer function. Getting into paint varnish preserves the colours freshness keeping images alive for many decades. Do not forget that good artworks cost considerable amount of money. If someone offers you an artwork of 5070 sm without a frame cheaper than 50 euro, you should be careful.

Be careful with works offered in rolls. It is usually the brought in and low-standard product or even worse it can be machine copies.

If possible ask a competent person for his opinion. However avoid advices of artists. It is difficult to be objective for creative person. If you have already bought a picture with defects or these defects have come out later, address to the restorer if, of course, you like this work.

Good luck with your purchases.