Many years spend working in Quality Improvement instilled in me the importance of always using materials that will last the test of time.

the Australian tax office certainly believes that artwork should last, as it deems that it must be depreciated over 100 years!^

…so what does that mean?

sue uses only professional quality materials that are archival.

This means:

  • that paints, inks, pastels, pencils, markers and all other mediums used are lightfast and used in the way in which they are intended
  • paper and framing materials are 100% acid-free
  • canvases and their stretchers are of a suitable weight for the size of the canvas
  • should any materials not meet the above standards then this will be disclosed to the customer in the description

In my picture framing business I see many pieces of art that cost professional prices but are not made with longevity in mind.



  • canvases that are not very heavy for their size
  • canvases that do not sit flat when placed on a flat surface
  • large canvases with thin stretchers and little or no bracing
  • canvases that have the corners cut out (they are difficult to re-stretch as the corners become weak)
  • evidence of patching on the back of the canvas (sign that the canvas may be of low quality and has torn easily)
  • paintings on linen canvas if you live in a humid climate. Linen absorbs moisture and will become loose and floppy and will need to be re-stretched, sometimes up to 2-3 times


  • Paints can be found in formulations that are lightfast (fadeproof) for 100 years or will fade quickly. Check what paints have been used.
  • Fluorescent and glow-in-the-dark paints are not lightfast so will have a limited lifespan
  • Avoid dye-based paints (especially watercolours) and markers (most alcohol markers). Some markers are described as permanent or indelible, eg: Sharpies, but they are referring to the fact that they cannot be wiped off once they dry.
  • Certain mediums should not be used on an unprotected surface.For example: traditional gouache and watercolours will simply wipe off if they are painted on canvas and not sealed with a fixative/varnish, as will soft pastels. This is why they are usually framed behind glass as it will extend the life of the artwork substantially.
  • Certain paints don’t mix, like oil and water. Oil paintings should not have acrylic applied over the top as it will not adhere properly. Similarly acrylic paints that have silicone oil used in the process (such as many acrylic pouring techniques that have become popular) will end up disintegrating.
  • House paint is cheaper than artists paints for a number of reasons. They have less pigments (what gives the paint its colour), it is designed to wear away under certain conditions (such as exterior house paints that cop wind and rain and grime) and usually have a lifespan of 5-10 years. The same goes for house paint additives such as Floetrol
  • Art made with friable mediums , like pastels and charcoals, should be carefully fixed and/or framed in such a way as to ensure that the glass does not touch the artwork and preferably would have a lifted matboard that allows any loose materials to drop behind the matboard rather than sitting on top of the matboard


  • Paper that 100% cotton is much more resilient and lasting than paper made with cellulose.
  • The paper should be acid-free so that it does not yellow with age.
  • The paper used should be sufficiently thick that the paint doesn’t cause cockling (buckling) from the moisture in the paint. Sketching which s dry uses paper that start at 110gsm, watercolour paper 185gsm (though 300gsm or above is preferred), and oil and acrylic papers can be up to 400gsm.
  • Framing behind glass is the preferred method of ensuring works on paper last as long as they should. Make sure that the matboard and backings are acid-free and the glass has a high UV rating, similar to sunscreen. Plain glass offers limited protection for your art purchase and often leaves a green tinge.
  • Ensure that the back of framed artworks on paper is sealed and ensure that the tape is intact. This creates a barrier to moisture getting into the frame, which makes a perfect environment for mould. If you are lucky you will notice it on the glass first, then matboard and finally the artwork. Standard cures for mould such as bleach will dissolve your paper just as it would if you drop bleach on your clothes
  • Ensure that the glass doesn’t sit straight on top of the artwork, as paper needs to move (expand and contract)


  • Do not buy anything painted on ordinary cardboard, it is not acid-free so the paint will yellow over time and it is not made to last as most is designed to decompose
  • Do not buy paintings on student panels made from compressed cardboard or MDF. When MDF is made it uses large quantities of acid and this acid is released over time into the environment of the artwork and causes yellowing and if it become wet it will disintegrate. They also have a tendency to bow as they absorb moisture from the environment, so if they are framed they should have additional backing so that the frame can be attached without damaging the edges with staples or framers points.

Sue Deacon ART follows the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s guidance regarding consumer guarantees, including Repair, Replacement, and Refund entitlements

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