Tag Archives: Alchemy Fine Art Restorers

Marties Award Nomination

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Kate Wood, owner of Alchemy Fine Art Restorers, has been nominated for a Marties award via the Martin County Arts Council in the category of Adult Visual Artist.


“Over the years, the Marties have recognized many talented artists, generous patrons, and devoted leaders in our community. I consider this award nomination a true honor,” said Ms. Wood.

Kate Wood is a photo-realist artist working in multiple mediums. Her art has been exhibited in galleries since the 1990s, with shows all over the US, including Denver, West Palm Beach, Eugene, Tampa and New Orleans. Kate also teaches oil painting at Alizarin Crimson Studio in Stuart, FL. A sampling of her latest paintings can be viewed here. Kate is active in the arts community, having participated in grant writing for restoration projects, conserving public art, community open house events, and educational outreach.

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In addition to the 2016 Marties nominees in the arts categories, several notable persons will received named awards at this year’s event, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for John Whitney Payson, an Excellence in the Arts Award for Lynne Barletta, and a Philanthropy in the Arts Award for Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Sharon Ferina, Carol Kepp and Nancy Steinberg will be recognized for Arts Leadership and a Corporate Leadership Award goes to Electrical Connections. Special Recognition will also be given to the Hobe Sound Mural Project as led by Nadia Utto.

Persons honored with award nominations in performing arts categories will entertain attendees. Art from the visual nominees will be displayed at the event. A full list of award nominations is available at the Martin County Arts Council Facebook page.

2016 marks the second year in a row that Ms. Wood has attended the Marties Awards gala. Last year, one of her painting students at Alizarin Crimson Studio (the talented Ms. Kelly Campbell) was honored with an award nomination in the Student Visual Artist category.

Restoring Joy Postle: A Florida Treasure Rediscovered

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Kate Wood with the mural. Photo credit: Thomas Winter.

In the spring of 2015, Alchemy Fine Art Restorers conserved an historically important mural at the Woman’s Club of Stuart. Painted by Joy Postle in 1962, the vibrant work suffered from discoloration and paint loss. As a focal point of the Banyan Room, a meeting space for Martin County, Florida residents, it was vital that this work be restored to its former glory.

Kate Wood, Alchemy’s lead restorer, knew the work would be arduous, but rewarding. Cleaning and restoring this massive work required standing on a ladder for hours at a time across several days. Much of Kate’s initial effort went to cleaning the entire mural. After that, Kate restored areas of paint loss. As always, Kate used modern, reversible techniques for all restoration.  Details from Kate Wood’s restoration, along with some background about the artist and links to further resources are presented below.

The Glamour Bird: Joy Postle

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Joy Postle painted the natural beauty of Florida.

The mural was created by Florida nature artist Joy Postle (1896-1989). Born and raised in Chicago, Joy attended the Art Institute of Chicago. Along with her journalist husband (Robert Blackstone), Joy Postle arrived in Florida in 1934 after a period of traveling around the United States in a home-made trailer. The two camped all over Florida, which inspired Postle to paint scenes from nature.

In 1937, Postle joined the WPA Art Project. Three years later, she debuted her “Glamour Birds” act in which bird song and music accompanied Postle as she painted birds and educated her audience. Postle and her husband settled in a home and studio on Lake Rose, 20 miles east of Gainesville, in 1942.

An exhibit of Joy Postle’s paintings will be presented November 2-30, 2015 at the University of Central Florida’s John C. Hitt Library.

A believer in bringing art to the public as a teacher and a performer, Postle also created countless murals for commercial buildings and homes, from Texas to North Carolina and especially in Florida. While many are known, surviving murals by Postle continue to be identified and recorded in Central Florida.

Areas of paint loss can be seen in this photo of Kate Wood restoring the mural.

In a May 2015 blogpost titled, The Ghost of Joy Postle and the Everglades Mural, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch wrote about the same mural Alchemy recently restored, “As a kid, I spent numerous hours at the Woman’s Club of Stuart. What made the biggest impression on me was a beautiful mural featuring birds of the Everglades— of which Stuart is part through the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.”

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Paint loss visible pre-restoration.

Detail of cleaned and restored mural.

 

According to local historian Alice L. Luckhardt, the Banyan Room mural wasn’t the only mural Joy Postle painted in Stuart, FL.  A mural painted in 1948 graced a wall in the original Citizens Bank (now Duffy’s Restaurant). Two more (both painted in 1961) were displayed in what is now the Seacoast Bank at Colorado and US 1, but these are now (as of September 2015)  covered by paneling.  Luckhardt adds that “five original individual wood framed paintings (c. 1959) depicting an egret, spoonbill, ducks, cypress swamp and a Florida sunset in the pine woods were displayed at the school cafeteria in Stuart, paid for from profits of ice cream sales at the lunchroom. However, the only one still visual today is the one done for the Woman’s Club.”

Aside from the changing ownership of these buildings, it’s likely that another reason none of these images are available for viewing today is their physical deterioration. Luckily, the mural at the Woman’s Club has been restored and may be enjoyed by visitors to the Banyan Room for generations to come.

A section of the cleaned and restored mural. The artist’s signature is visible at the bottom, just left of center.

Further Resources

A gallery of Joy Postle paintings is available via the University of Central Florida Libraries.

Learn more about Joy Postle at the Florida Fine Art Blog.

About the Woman’s Club of Stuart: The Woman’s Club of Stuart is a proud member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The Club is united by a dedication to community improvement through volunteering, raising funds, and reaching out to others while experiencing lifelong learning and friendships for all members. Although there is diversity in the ages, interest, and experiences of the Club’s members, they are united by a common goal to community improvement through volunteer service. With over a century of tradition, the Woman’s Club of Stuart is the oldest organization in Martin County. It’s influence includes providing scholarships to young women from Martin County high schools, helping needy families, supporting academic endeavors, and worthwhile charities enriching the local culture.

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A detail from Kate Wood’s restoration of Joy Postle’s mural on display at the Woman’s Club of Stuart.

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Kate Wood of Alchemy Fine Art Restorers cleans a mural located in the Woman’s Club of Stuart.

 

Alchemy Wins “Women Supporting the Arts” Grant

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Alchemy Fine Art Restorers, a woman-owned small business, has been awarded a grant by Women Supporting the Arts (WSA), a program of the Arts Foundation of Martin County.   Alchemy’s proposal to repair, restore, and re-hang a damaged 9 x 16 foot canvas mural in the Environmental Studies Center received funding for 2015.

“I am honored to receive the Women Supporting the Arts Grant. My main goal is to retain the original look of the artifact, but make look as if it were just painted,” said Kate Wood, owner Alchemy Fine Art Restorers.

WomanArtsWSA’s mission is to build a community of women philanthropists who inspire, educate and encourage women to strengthen the arts and cultural environment in Martin County.

The Environmental Resource Center  is a valuable educational resource for the Treasure Coast. Alchemy’s restoration will enhance the Center, which builds environmental awareness among the students of Martin County.

Alchemy Fine Art Restorers approaches restoration using the least invasive techniques possible. As the work progresses, Kate will document the entire process, which will be shared with visitors to this site, as well as with local media. Kate Wood has painted numerous murals and theater backgrounds in the Treasure Coast area. This project revisits those roots while also showcasing her world-class conservation skills.

Since 2004, more than $201,000 in grants have been awarded to artists and arts-related programs by Women Supporting the Arts (WSA).  WSA welcomes grant applications from organizations and individuals who present cultural programs for Martin County. Collaborative projects and events are eligible.

Applications are judged on the following criteria:

  • Value to the community in strengthening the arts
  • Merit of the program, project, scholarship, or internship
  • Increase of public awareness and participation in the arts
  • Partnerships and collaborations with existing community resources

For more information on Kate’s approach, see “Restoring Beauty: An illuminating interview with painter, teacher, and master art conservator Kate Wood” at fineartrestorers.com/restoringbeauty.

For more information on Women Supporting the Arts, visit their website at www.martinarts.org/support_us/women_supporting_arts.html.

Pharoah’s Horses

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“The Pharoah’s Horses” is an 1848 work by British painter John Fredrick Herring Sr.

In partnership with our good friends at Palm City Art and Frame, Alchemy Fine Art Restorers worked on a well-executed, but damaged copy of this famous image.

The owner of this damaged painting knew it was a copy, but appreciated the work as a decorative piece, as he should have. Such popular images are frequently copied by students and admiring amateurs.  Typically, there is no intent to deceive. Rather, these works are used as teaching tools by the aspiring artist. In this case, the painter was a relative of the owner.

Pharoah’s Horses: An Iconic Image

“The Pharoah’s Horses” is one of the most popular images of all time!  It has decorated countless parlors for over a century and is a popular tattoo.  Antiques Roadshow lists it as one of the most copied paintings. In fact, it was once so ubiquitous that it is included in the background of Norman Rockwell’s “Solitaire” (1950).

Does this mean a copy is always worthless?  Perhaps not. A year after Herring’s work sold at auction for almost half-a-million dollars, a man bought what he thought was a copy for $25 at a Missouri flea market (1987). After painstaking research into the paint and canvas chemistry of this flea market find, it was postulated that the Herring painting might itself be a copy of an earlier work.  Suddenly, the flea market copy was the original and the original a copy!

Alchemy Fine Art Restorers can’t determine which was original without examining the paintings first-hand, but you have to admit, it’s an interesting story.

Here’s hoping you find your own flea market treasure.  In the mean time, enjoy some images from our restoration of “Pharoah’s Horses.”

The damaged, dirty painting.

The damaged, dirty painting. The canvas was torn in multiples spots.

Half

Cleaning in progress, showing half and half.

The restored and cleaned Pharoah's Horses

The fully restored and cleaned Pharoah’s Horses.

 

Alchemy’s Tips for Working with Art Professionals

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Kate Wood restoring a natural fiber wall hanging.

Kate Wood restoring a natural fiber wall hanging.

Across two decades as an art teacher, master conservator, and oil painter, Kate Wood has learned how to get the most out of interactions with art professionals, including proven best-practices to avoid common pitfalls.

Kate shares some of her essential tips for working with art professionals below. Whether you are looking to sell a work of art, commission a portrait, restore an object, or just find a frame that compliments your art, some basic rules from the owner of Alchemy Fine Art Restorers can save you money and ensure that you get the best possible results.

1. Getting an art appraisal:

When getting an art appraisal never sell your art to the same person who appraised it. Neither should you allow the appraiser to sell your art for you. Insurance companies require a expert third party opinion to determine the value of your art. Any monetary interest the appraiser has in the value of your art can undermine the integrity of your appraisal.

When an appraiser offers to buy or sell your work, right after quoting you a price, it’s a conflict of interest. In fact, no reputable appraiser would ever do this.  “Oh, that painting? It’s worth $500. I’ll give you $350.”

If this happens to you, run the other way. The painting might be worth twice that.

Reputable appraisers charge a per piece flat rate, not a fee based on a percentage of the appraised value nor an hourly rate. Neither should they release any appraisal information without prior consent of the client.

The condition will affect the value of your art. For example, if a painting is dirty, ripped, or poorly conserved, it is worth less than one in good condition.

When the painting was created in the context of the artist’s life, as well as its subject, will also govern its value. Certain periods in an artist’s production tend to be more sought after than others.

An appraisal is not forever. It reflects the current, fluctuating art market. A document sale price even five years old is outmoded, and five years from now, your latest appraisal may completely change.

Consider getting a second opinion if the person appraising your work also offers to restore/conserve the object. Unscrupulous persons might claim a third rate painting has a high value in order to convince a client to purchase expensive restoration services. Finding the value of a work is often simple. Numerous auction record sites are available online, including a free, searchable site anyone can use at Blouin Art Sales Index.

If your exact object is not included in the records, find one that matches it as closely as possible in size and condition. Also, auction values fluctuate, so use the most recent record, preferably within the last five  years. Note: Auction records represent a wholesale price. Dealer records are a retail price.

2. Selling art on consignment:

When selling your art through a gallery, always get the agreement in writing. It could take months or years to sell a work of fine art. It’s important that you have a contract in place that explains the exact terms of  your agreement with the gallery.

For example, a gallery owner is tasked with appraising your signed Matisse print and asked to confirm that it is real in order to sell it. He is unable to get the work authenticated, but he sells it to another dealer for $5000, while implying that it could be real. Then, he tells you that it is definitely a fake and that he has an offer on the table for $1000. You agree to sell for $1000 (though the piece has already left the gallery). After the gallery collects the verbally agreed upon 35%, you end up with a mere $650 in store credit (which you may never use), while the gallery owner clears $5000!

And what about the dealer who paid $5000? He already has a buyer lined up for his fake Matisse print. Read this site for more on commonly faked prints.

Example #2: a gallery owner believes that your art would sell faster if it looked older. Without asking for our permission, he sprays an artificially darkened varnish over the entire painting. If his ploy to trick the buyer doesn’t work and the piece doesn’t sell, the art is irreversibly compromised. This is unacceptable on many levels.

These cautionary tales would not happen with a legitimate contract in force. Such contracts are standard practice in reputable galleries and you should never deal with any gallery unwilling to provide one. This applies both to the professional artist selling original work and the collector selling  pieces by another artists.

To protect yourself, always require an original copy of a signed contract that says exactly what percent of the final sale the gallery receives. Most galleries charge a 30% to 50% commission for the sale of your work. Specify that if the art is sold at a discount, the difference come out of the gallery owner’s share, not your share. Stipulate that any alterations to the work, including restoration, varnishing, changing out any elements, etc. require your pre-approval. Also stipulate that you shall receive a signed receipt of the transaction between the gallery and the buyer, showing the exact final sale price. Each of these things can protect you from unscrupulous practices.

Before you trust a gallery to sell your artwork on commission, photograph your object in good light, documenting the appearance / condition. Include close-ups of the exact frame you delivered. That way, should the object suffer any damage at the hands of the gallery owner, you hold proof of its original state. Always take measurements of both the image size and the frame size and document these.

Make copies of all receipts or histories of the work. This is its provenance and is very important to the sale of a work of art. Give the dealer the copies of receipts. Upon final sale, give the originals to the buyer. This way, if the art work is damaged or even “lost” by the dealer, you have proof of your ownership.

3. Commissioning a portrait or mural:

When working with a commission artist or muralist, ask to see a portfolio their work. Ask a portrait artist if they would like to photograph your subject. They may have creative ideas or scenes that they like to work with. Whatever you do, don’t use flash photography. It flattens the subject and steals color. If you hand an artist a yearbook photo, that’s what you’ll get. If it doesn’t look good in a photo, it won’t look good on canvas.

If you are going to take a photo for the artist to work with, try to set the scene. Think in terms of background. Natural places, good lighting and being at the same level as your subject are all important. A phot0 looking down at a dog on a tile floor, for example, might make for a cute snapshot, but it’s not a very good subject for a portrait painting.

Agree to a price up front and expect to pay a deposit. This protects you both. It’s fine to request a pre-signature viewing. If you like it, have them sign it. If there is something you would like changed, this gives you a chance to make that request. Don’t accept the work as final until you love it.

When working with a muralist, ask for a to-scale sketch that you can approve. The sketch won’t be as detailed as the finished product, but it will give you an idea what your wall will look like. If you are working from a reference photo, make sure it is what you really want. Artists may have a hard time translating, “I want this field, but could you put two horses in it?” If that is what you want, get a good photo of two horses in a field.

4. Working with an art conservator:

When working with an art conservator, look at their past work. Any good conservator has a portfolio of the type of projects at which they excel. Always be sure you understand the processes they will use to conserve your work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if they are using technical terms or jargon. Always get an estimate of the work be done and what it costs, just like you would if you were taking a car in for repairs.

For example:

Flora Oil Painting, 16″ x 20″

Work to be done: lined, cleaned, missing areas in-painted, UV protective gloss varnish

Price: $300

Tax: $18

Total: $318

Deposit: $159

Due on completion: $159

I do not recommend paying the entire amount up-front. A deposit of half should suffice. Leaving half of the job unpaid is an incentive to the conservator to complete the task.

Asking for a rough deadline is fine but a definite date may be difficult to pin point. The cleaning may expose previous repairs that require more attention. If a painting took two hundred years to come to a state of disrepair, it will take more than two weeks to turn that around. Be patient. It’s worth the wait. It’s not unreasonable to ask for a mid-restoration photograph, however, to see progress on your work. I recommend this.

It’s also wise to take your own “before” picture, so you can compare the state of disrepair with the results you paid for.

5. Framing art:

Choosing a frame for your art can be a confusing task. There are so many choices and ways to frame an artwork. First, it is very important to frame to the best advantage of the artwork, not to match the sofa. The art will (hopefully) far outlive furniture trends. A frame is like a dress on a woman, the more befitting the dress, the prettier the woman. The more flattering the frame, the more beautiful the artwork.

One general rule off thumb: don’t use a frame darker than the darkest dark or lighter than the lightest light in the painting. It’s a distraction from the piece.

It’s equally important to ensure the longevity of the piece. Works on paper should be framed in an acid-free environment. Reputable frame shops offer this alternative. It may cost a little more, but it ensures the long-term stability of the paper. Works that were framed many years ago were most likely framed with acid content mats and cardboard. They should be replaced with acid-free backing and matting. If you look a the beveled edge of the matting and it is yellow or brownish, it has an acid content. All artwork and photos should be framed so they don’t touch the glass. Mat board or spacers will keep humidity from making the artwork stick to the glass. Pastels should be framed with a reverse bevel, so any dust that falls from the drawing will fall behind the mat and not dirty the overall look of the framed work.

It is important to frame oil paintings, not just to beautify the work, but also to protect them. I discourage papering the backs of oil paintings. Many framers do this to present a finished look and hide the screws and clips. Over time, this acid content brown paper degrades and falls into the back of the stretcher bars. The paper also traps humidity which gives mold and mildew a nice, comfy place to thrive.

Framing can be expensive. Every step from creating the frame’s finish to fitting is a specialized skill. Good framing is worth the cost, as it will serve the artwork for the span of its life, allowing many generations to enjoy the piece. However, this does not mean you necessarily need to purchase the most expensive frame in the shop. If the framer shows you a frame that is $76 per foot, ask to see less expensive options as well. It could be that a frame at $22 or $12 per foot, which has the same essential profile, will flatter the work as well. For example, not every framed work of art needs gold leaf gilding, when metal leaf will suffice. Even some painted finishes are attractive. Purchase the frame that fits both the art and your budget.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for working with art professionals. In summary, don’t be afraid to ask questions and always get it in writing!

Photo Cleaning & Paper Restoration

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A stained surface distracts from the overall impression of the image.  This week, Alchemy cleaned this engaging photo of a girl.  To maintain the integrity of the photo, Kate used proprietary chemical processes to lighten the staining.  

Photo Cleaning

Here are some before and after images of a photo cleaning performed by Kate Wood. Click on the photo to see a more detailed version:

Before: The painting was stained and dirty.

Before photo cleaning: The painting was stained and dirty.

A lovely smile is again the focus of this engaging portrait.

After: A lovely smile is again the focus of this engaging portrait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper Restoration

With delicate materials like paper, cleaning is meant to restore the image back to a state where it can be proudly displayed. Here are before and after images from a recent paper cleaning project Alchemy Fine Art Restorers completed. Unlike some other restorers, this was not done via Photoshop or any other digital manipulation. Instead, the original paper image was cleaned and restored using modern, reversible techniques.

Click on each image to see larger versions of these paper restoration samples.

Before restoration

Before restoration

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Restoration by Alchemy Fine Art Restorers

After Restoration by Alchemy Fine Art Restorers

If you own an object in need of professional attention, make an appointment with Alchemy Fine Art Restorers in Stuart, FL. Estimates are always free and we even provide local pickup and delivery!

Owner: Kate Wood Phone: (772) 287-0835,

Email: katewoodartist@comcast.net.

Contact Alchemy: If you own an object in need of professional attention, make an appointment with Alchemy Fine Art Restorers in Stuart, FL. Estimates are always free and we even provide local pickup and delivery!

Owner: Kate Wood Phone: (772) 287-0835

Email: katewoodartist@comcast.net