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An oil painter called James who lives in El Salvador in Central America is having an issue with mold growing on his canvases. His says:"I paint with oils as a pastime. Here we have a protracted rainy season with constant high humidity. I have recently noticed that, what appears as, a little fungus or mold is growing on the back of my cotton canvas. Could you please advise me about what to do?" Do you have any solutions? Post them here...


May 5, 2006 at 10:33 am
(1) Barbara says:

We have been through a flood and black mold is now everywhere – airborn and attaching it’self to everything including my honey’s beautiful oil paintings – I have heard the vineager and water will stop the distruction and a cleaner called Bam – If you hear about anything else please e-mail me at bmoore829@aol.com

May 5, 2006 at 11:08 am
(2) About Painting Guide says:

I don’t know about vinegar working, nor whether it’ll damage the paint, but if you wipe the mould when it’s damp it’s going to smear, whereas if you can dry the painting first, then ought to be able to get the mould off with a brush.

See http://www.psepc.gc.ca/prg/em/gds/floods-en.asp#cleanup (scroll down a bit to ‘mould’)

From http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=6100
“Remove wet paintings from the frame but not from the stretcher. Air dry; face up, away from direct sunlight.”

I’ve read on some websites that freezing a painting stops mould growth, but this one
says you run the risk of cracking the paint.

The New Orlands Conservation Guild gives this advice for works on paper:
” if there is active mold growing on it a light spray of Lysol helps to kill the mold until it can be treated, but bring them in quickly for proper treatment!”

For works on canvas they say:
“lightly spray (do not saturate) the canvas, front and back, with Lysol spray (not the liquid). This will help arrest the mold growth, and you may need to repeat this a few times. When the mold is dry and powdery it is now dormant. You can then take the canvas outside it and the residue can be brush with a clean dry paint brush. Remember to wear a mask so as not to inhale the airborne spores, and be sure to remove all the debris from the back and not to allow it to accumulate under the stretcher bars!
Do not wipe the mold off”
See http://www.art-restoration.com/damage.htm for more info.

August 28, 2008 at 4:41 pm
(3) George says:

Do not paint on top of the mould. this is essentially food for the mould and it will continue to grow
I’ve tried the lysol spray before but it didn’t help for me.
Best thing that worked for me was applying hydrogen peroxide (10% solution). This you can use on the back of the canvas to get rid of the mould. On the front, it willl take off the paint. I had a couple of paintings in Thailand with what sounds pretty similar to what you have. I got the artist to repaint those areas where we took the paint off. But you have to remove all the mould first!!

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