Tag Archives: Kate Wood

Kate Wood’s “Teaism” Selected for Gilt Complex Art Showcase

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“Teaism” by Kate Wood is one of four paintings in the 2022 Storefront Art Showcase.

Stuart, Florida’s premier framer and conservator shopthe Gilt Complex—hosts the contest. To recognize the winners, they display vibrant, oversized prints of the selected art in their storefront windows. The showcase runs through 2022. There will also be a public event to promote the display on Friday, January 7, from 5 to 9 pm.

Kate Wood owns Alchemy Fine Art Restorers. She also teaches painting at Alizarin Crimson Art Studio.

The other three artists selected are Kathleen Denis, Rich West, and Kim Rody. As you can see below, they are each highly skilled painters.

After selecting the winners, the Gilt Complex digitally framed, printed, and installed each painting in their storefront windows. Drivers on S. Colorado Ave in Stuart can spot the art while driving but must stop at the Gilt Complex to appreciate these high-quality paintings.

The public is invited to check out the showcase in person during Stuart’s First Friday Artwalk event, January 7, or to stop by the Gilt Complex at 608 S. Colorado Ave, Stuart at their convenience. The Gilt Complex has an extensive collection of fantastic frames, fine art, artisanal gifts, and much more, including a helpful and knowledgeable staff!

The contest is not a one-off event. Each year, the Gilt Complex staff selects four new artists to display in their showcase. Kate Wood, who has produced numerous public art projects throughout her career, says these displays are a great boon to the visibility of local artists.

“It’s wonderful that the Gilt Complex creates such a terrific, public-facing showcase,” said Kate Wood. “I’m thankful that Duncan, Pam, Katie, and Alex selected my work for display.”

Kate Wood’s Art Exhibited at Elliot Museum

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As part of the Elliot Museum‘s efforts to showcase the very best local talent, Alchemy Fine Arts owner Kate Wood has been selected as one of the painters to be featured in their latest art exhibit.

The opening for the Elliott Museum’s Portfolios – Eclectic Artists and Art will be held Thursday, October 15 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. All art lovers are invited to attend and the rest of the museum will also be open to visitors. The exhibit will be installed through January 4, 2021.

Art from local artists will be featured at the Elliot museum from Oct. 15, 2020 to Jan. 4, 2021. Seen in this collage is Kate Wood’s motorcycle oil-painting, entitled, “Classic.”

The exhibit highlights the artwork of artists from the Stuart area. Artwork will be in a variety of media, styles, techniques, and subjects.  Painting, sculpture, photography, glasswork and jewelry will be included, with approaches ranging from traditional, to contemporary, to the unexpected. 

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, attendees are asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing during the event.

All art presented during this showcase will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Elliott Museum. Complimentary refreshments will also be served, along with a cash beer and wine bar.

“Waiting, Lafayette Station” by Kate Wood is one of the original art works that will be on display at the Elliott Museum beginning October 15, 2020.

Artist Included in the Exhibit:

  1. Kate Wood
  2. Laura Kay Whiticar Darvill
  3. Dot Galfond
  4. Linda Geary
  5. Kevin Hutchinson
  6. Denise Justice
  7. Carol Kepp
  8. Livia Krof-Debonet
  9. Mia Lindberg
  10. Brent McAhren
  11. Sue Ann Mosley
  12. Kim Nolan
  13. Bruce Wells
  14. Dale Beam

The Elliott Museum offers a variety of collections, including vintage cars, baseball artifacts, artwork, Americana, rotating exhibits in the Changing Exhibitions Gallery, an art studio with classes, a theater, a tribute to local philanthropists Frances Langford and Ralph Evinrude, a Museum Store, a student art exhibit, and much more. Kate Wood has previously performed professional art conservation services for the Elliot Museum.

The new Elliott Museum opened in 2013. Aside from its permanent exhibits, the museum regularly hosts art shows like the one Kate Wood will participate in during October 2020.

The Historical Society of Martin County is the parent organization of the Elliott Museum and House of Refuge Museum. While the Elliott wows guests with its renowned car and baseball collections, the House of Refuge showcases what life was like in turn-of-the-century Florida. Both museums showcase a variety of exhibits, collections, and lectures of interest to those who live in and visit Florida’s Treasure Coast.

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.


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.

Environmental Studies Center Canvas Backdrop Restoration

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Conservator Kate Wood of Alchemy Fine Art Restorers recently restored a theater backdrop at the Environmental Studies Center in Jensen Beach, Florida.  To fund this work, Alchemy was awarded a grant by Women Supporting the Arts (WSA) in conjunction with the Wilmington Trust.

Work in progress


This rewarding project was a challenge due to the fragile nature of the canvas mural. The hanging and lift systems were extremely corroded.  The canvas was stained and ripped, and the original artist had used water soluble poster paints in several places, which were now smeared and were a challenge to address. However,  these elements were successfully treated and the following repairs made:

  • Reinforced paint loss areas with acid free gesso on the reverse side of the canvas.
  • Created and installed a buffer for the sharp edge of the of the bottom roll bar. This will prevent future damage as the backdrop is raised.
  • Patched holes using new canvas and acid free glue. The top of the backdrop was reinforced with a long strip of canvas to repair and prevent tearing.
  • Replaced both sides of the rusted lift system wires with non-rusting, plastic coated heavy-duty wire.
  • Removed old hanging lumber and replaced with a single continuous bar.
  • Matched paint and touched up missing and dirty areas of paint.
  • Created a new secure hanging system and rehang the backdrop.

WSA’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 enhanced he Center, which builds environmental awareness among the students of Martin County. Alchemy Fine Art Restorers approaches restoration using the least invasive techniques possible.

Kate Wood has painted numerous murals and theater backgrounds in the Treasure Coast area. This canvas backdrop restoration project revisited those roots while also showcasing her world-class conservation skills. Kate has also taught oil painting to area students of all ages for two decades and is an accomplished artist.

Alchemy Fine Art Restorers thanks Women Supporting the Arts and Wilmington Trust for this grant and for the ongoing work both organizations do to better the arts in our local community!



Wood Shield Restoration

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In partnership with our friends at Pierce-Archer, Alchemy Fine Art Restorers conserved a painted wood shield for Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. This gorgeous Episcopal church–the oldest in Palm Beach–is on the National Registry of Historical Places.

Bethesda-by-the-Sea dates from 1889, which also makes it the oldest Protestant Church in South Florida. Kate Wood has treated several works of art from the interior of the church over the past five years, but this case was different . . .

Exposed to the elements outside of the Church office for 90 years, the wood shield disintegrated due to dry rot and sun damage to the point of falling to the ground. Alchemy restored this beautiful object to its former glory to be enjoyed by generations to come in the Parish Hall. The church is open to visitors and is well worth the visit. Stop by when you are in Palm Beach.

Please, enjoy these amazing before and after images.


The body of the damaged wood shield during restoration.


The damaged shield after 90 years of Florida weather.

The damaged wood shield after 90 years of Florida weather.


The Restored Shield






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.


Cleaning in progress, showing half and half.

The restored and cleaned Pharoah's Horses

The fully restored and cleaned Pharoah’s Horses.


The Art and Science of Color Mixing

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A Color Mixing Workshop with Kate Wood

This hands-on color mixing workshop explores oil paint color combinations and how to use color theory to make natural looking paintings. This class will discuss and use color coding and chemical coding of oil paints. Expert instruction explains how paint chemistry works and which pigments to avoid to ensure the lasting beauty of your oil paintings.

The workshop is offered in two sessions. The morning session covers color coding, color mixing and color theory. The afternoon covers advanced color mixing, value scales and paint chemistry.

Saturday, December 6,  9:30-12:30 and 1:00-4:00

Cost is $35 for one session or $60 for the full day workshop.

Sign-up at Alizarin Crimson Studio (772) 287-7030 or with Kate Wood (772) 287-0835.


Kate Wood teaching color mixing.

Kate Wood teaching color mixing.

Supplies to Bring:

Freezer Paper, Masking Tape. Palette Knife, Paper Towels, Notebook/Pen/Sharpie

Recommended Colors to Bring:

No student brands, like Winton or “hue” pigments. You can substitute with paint colors that you use more commonly.

  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Red Light or Grumbacher (Napthol) Red
  • Thalo Rose or Alizarin Crimson
  • Sap Green
  • Thalo Green
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Thalo Blue
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber


Alchemy Fine Art Restorers in Stuart, FL, provides a full range of world-class art conservation and restoration. With over a decade of conservation experience and over two decades as a working artist, owner Kate Wood is a highly skilled technician. She expertly treats paintings on canvas, as well as conserving paper, pottery, leather, porcelain, woven fabric, and wooden objects. Kate is the only conservator on the Treasure Coast with the advanced painting, sculpting, and workshop skills to restore such a range. She cares about your precious objects and takes pride in returning them to their full measure of beauty.

Ancestral Portraits and Yellow Fever on the Bayou

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One of the joys of restoration is discovering the history of a painting; and nothing has more history than ancestral portraits. Kate Wood of Alchemy Fine Art Restorers (with some help from her researcher husband) looked into the origins of two nineteenth century portraits of the Thibodaux Family.  What she found led her into a fascinating world of Civil War plunder, society painters, and the tragic impacts of Yellow Fever.

The Thibodaux family, which included several prominent politicians, were a leading Acadian family of Old Louisiana for whom the county seat of Lafourche Parish is named.  Family legend relates that both portraits were water-damaged during the Civil War when they removed from the wall and hidden deep in the swamps by Marguerite Bridget (Thibodaux) Tucker and her husband Joseph Pennington Tucker.  Interestingly, between 1863 and 1867, three siblings of the Thibodaux family married three siblings of the Tucker family.  Our first assumption was that the paintings were of “Bridget” and her husband Joseph.  But who painted them?

Portrait of Joseph Pennington Tucker - Before Restoration

Portrait of Husband – Before Restoration

Portrait of Joseph Pennington Tucker - After Restoration

Portrait of Husband – After Restoration


Portrait of Marguerite Bridget (Thibodaux) Tucker - Before Restoration

Portrait of Wife – Before Restoration

Portrait of Marguerite Bridget (Thibodaux) Tucker - After Restoration

Portrait of Wife – After Restoration


In researching the artist who may have painted these portraits, the first thing Kate noted was the lack of a signature, and loss of the large cap frame, which is not uncommon.  Secondly, Kate noted the high quality of the work, which makes it unlikely that this was the work of an itinerant painter (limner).  It has all the hallmarks of a society portrait artist.

Close up of water damage

Closeup of water damage

Close up of water damage

Repaired section

Repaired section






Two well-known candidates painted in New Orleans during the period suggested by the subjects’ attire and other attributes of the work (the late 1830s to 1860).   While Kate took a long look at society portrait artist Jean Joseph Vaudechamp, the most likely artist for these portraits is Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans. Widely considered the most important portrait painter in New Orleans at this time, Amans painted many of the prominent families of the day, including a number of Louisiana politicians. A portrait he rendered of Andrew Jackson shows his marked tendency for neo-classical backgrounds.

Amans also had a knack for developing sensitive, expressive  faces, as  exhibited in these restored examples. Also note a similar handling in the painting of the hands, as well as the poses used to depict the sitter.  Most importantly, after leaving New Orleans in the mid-1840sAmans lived quite near the Thibodaux family for about a decade before returning to France in 1856.

The problem here is that Marguerite Bridget Thibodaux was ten when the artist moved back to France, and according to famed Art Historian William H. Gerdts (in Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting: 1710-1920), Jacques Amans never returned to Louisiana.

This pointed us to Marguerite Bridget Thibodaux’s father, Henry Hubert Claiborne Thibodaux, who was elected to the Louisiana State Legislature in 1834, who  was appointed probate judge for Terrebonne in 1845, and who according to legend was the first white male born in Terrebonne Parish. Unfortunately, he died of Yellow Fever at age 45 on November 11, 1855.  He is buried in St. Bridget’s Cemetery in Houma, LA.

Not only does he fit the typical profile for a portrait subject by Amans, but he fits the time period.  It makes perfect sense that his daughter, who was nine when he died, would have  not only hidden and protected his painting, but would have taken such care of it afterwards that it survived to modern times.  This makes the likely candidate for the female portrait Henry Thibodaux’s wife Mathilda  (Toups) Thibodaux (1819-1863), whom Henry married in 1838 and who’s family had already been in Louisiana for a century by the time these portraits were painted.

Furthermore, it is highly likely that Yellow Fever, which was ravaging the south, including Thibodaux, Louisiana in the 1850s, was the painter‘s primary reason for leaving Louisiana (only months after Henry Hubert Claiborne Thibodaux’s death).

Lastly, evidence of Amans’ connection to the Thibodaux family includes the authorship of a thesis on Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans by Tulane University student Mary Louise (Trammel) Tucker  in 1970.  She is very likely a descendent of Mary Louise Tucker – one of the three Tucker siblings to marry Thibodaux siblings between 1863 and 1867.

The Plot Thickens

After we did this research, the owner of the paintings followed up by contacting Nicholls State University, located in Thibodaux, Louisiania.  Archivist Clive Theriot confirmed that the restored paintings were of Henry Claiborne Thibodaux and Mathilde Marie Toups, per a photograph held in the University’s collections.  He noted that paintings also exist of Henry Schuyler Thibodaux (1769-1827) and his wife, Brigitte Thibodaux (nee Belanger).  Henry S. founded the town of Thibodaux, was a President of the Louisiana Senate, and even served briefly as the 4th Governor of Louisiana.

However, Theriot was unable to confirm the name of the painter for any of these portraits.

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!