The following tips are suggestions from conservators, but please realize that every painting and circumstance is different, and that these are general guidelines. A conservator may choose very different treatment options from those presented below upon seeing the painting’s condition.
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Watch for water that has collected between the stretcher and the reverse of the painting. If a lot of water has accumulated, tip the painting so that the water can run out and away from the painting (i.e., tip the painting bottom face upwards and the top reverse downwards, so the water runs off the stretcher and not into the canvas).
Never remove a wet painting from its stretcher bars. The stretcher bars are keeping the canvas from shrinking. The painting is apt to generate enormous tension in the wet canvas—somewhat less so with salt or brackish water—as the fibers swell with the water.
Dealing with paintings in their frames poses a difficult set of tradeoffs. First remove all backing materials—paper, cardboard, Foam Core Board, or plastics.
Remove paper or cardboard backings from the reverse of the painting.
Never wrap a wet painting in plastic, as this will promote mold growth. Also, the surface may be quite fragile and nothing should come in contact with the surface until it has been thoroughly dried and inspected.
Paintings wrapped in plastic should be removed from the plastic to prevent mold growth if they were in a damp environment
First and foremost, be safe. In wet environments, if the power has been restored, be particularly careful with electricity and electrical appliances. Using a plug-in GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) on any electrical appliance you are using is strongly recommended.
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