My name is Megan Levet and I am in my third year on the Conservation of Easel Paintings Course at The Courtauld Institute of Art. My final year thesis project is to review suitable retouching media for unvarnished acrylic emulsion paintings. In support of this research, I am sending out a short set of questions to contemporary conservation studios and conservators to try to get an idea of what media and methods are currently being employed by conservators, which materials have been found successful or unsuccessful and how these materials have withstood the test of time.
My predecessor, Shelley Sims, started this project and first sent out a survey in 2008. Her research found that watercolour, gouache, Regalrez and Aquazol (in all three molecular weights) were the most popular retouching media at the time. I am now re-visiting her research to see if this is still the case, how these materials have aged, and if attitudes towards retouching acrylic paintings have changed. The answers provided in this survey will help me focus my research on what is most practically relevant now and what new media I should test.
My project will involve testing the various retouching media on samples of acrylic emulsion paint to assess the colour, texture and gloss, as well as how reversible the media are. The samples I am using were originally made for the project in 2008 and have now been artificially aged, naturally aged for 10 years, and in dark storage for 3 years.
Given the most common types of problems/damages requiring retouching are: scuff marks, abrasion, dirty marks and finger prints on the surface of the painting – the removal of which may cause damage to the original paint;
1. What methods and materials have you attempted or found successful in dealing with these types of problems?
Please tick accordingly or type/write an answer below with as much detail as you like.
|Retouching Material||Notes||Tick box|
|Watercolour||Winsor + Newton, Schminke|
|Gouache||Winsor + Newton, Schminke, Lascaux|
|Gum Arabic||Used as a medium with dry pigments.|
|Regalrez||Used as a medium with dry pigments and as an interlayer to add gloss.|
|Aquazol (all three molecular weights)||Used as a medium with dry pigments. Not QoR colours.|
|QoR Watercolours||Aquazol as a binder.|
|Lascaux Aquacryl||Both the paints and the un-pigmented media|
|Golden MSA paints|
|JunFunori (or Funori)||Used as a medium with dry pigments.|
|Acrylic emulsion paint||Golden, Liquitex, W+N, Acryla, Lascaux|
|Colour pencils, crayons, or pastels|
|Gamblin restoration paints||Laropal A81 binder.|
|Laropal A 81.||Used as a medium with dry pigments.|
|Paraloid B72||Used as a medium with dry pigments and as B72 gels|
|PVA Lascaux||Solvent-based medium and dry pigments|
|Acrylic resin||Charbonnel, Soluvar, Plexisol|
|Water re-soluble acrylic||Other than Lascaux (please specify if you can)|
|Maimeri||Ketonic resin paints|
|Elvace||Vinyl acetate ethylene copolymer emulsion.|
|Other Aqueous gums||(please specify if you can)|
|Acrylic Gouache||Lascaux, other|
|Rabbit skin glue|
|No retouching.||Prefer to leave irremovable damage visible.|
2. In your collection care, have you had the chance to revisit the work you have done to monitor and assess the long-term success of these methods/materials?
If you have used any of the materials mentioned above, your practical input and experiences with them would be greatly appreciated.
A word document of this survey is also attached so please would you be so kind as to either fill out the document and attach it or to copy and paste the questions above and send your answers to me by email. Feel free to elaborate as little or as much as you please.
There are strict time restrictions on my project and if you were able to reply by the end of October I would greatly appreciate it.
Many thanks for your help!
Courtauld Institute of Art