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 Oil Painting Cleaning Brands and Stockists in UK?
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Junior Member

United Kingdom
172 Posts

Posted - Feb 26 2019 :  07:24:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello, I am looking for brands and suppliers available in the UK. There is Gainsborough's brand, but there is only one stockist/location in the UK and prices are 3 times the price they are in the US. Windsor & Newton do a cleaner, but so far has not been up to the job.

I have searched and searched but not found any other brands or suppliers. I really do not believe Gainsborough has the monotony on all the art restoration supplies. They have only been in operation since 1974. So what are people using?

Thank you - Brooks.

Edited by - Brooks on Feb 26 2019 07:35:47

Gold Member

1931 Posts

Posted - Feb 26 2019 :  15:09:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Unfortunately Job doesn't seem to visit the forum anymore. She would be the one to answer your question.

I don't work much with paintings anymore, but I have used household items, such as lemon juice, white soap flakes stirred up in hot water and even a splash of household ammonia in a bowl of water (good for removing nicotine fast).

Gentle application, not soaking. A soft brush, cotton swaps, cloths etc. for application depending on the texture. Then always water to remove any residues from the materials.
AND BE EXTRA CAUTIOUS WITH BLUE COLOURS! - They tend to be less strong.

It has worked for me. And then I have used the Windsor & Newton or similar varnishes.
I don't think professional restorers would use one particular cleaner either, and they are way overpriced and maybe doesn't do the job, as you have found out.


I recommend the Art forum at BidtoArt.com

I am webmaster on this - it is NOT my site: Art Talk - American Art in 200 years

Edited by - Vietato on Feb 26 2019 15:15:54
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Junior Member

United Kingdom
172 Posts

Posted - Feb 28 2019 :  00:12:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello Vietato, thank you for the suggestions.

I have been trying to avoid water, I have used soapy water in the past and suffered lifting of paint from the surface. But will be trying your suggestion for nicotine.

From the videos I have seen, what ever substances the professional restorer is using, it always seems to dissolve the dirt on the paint pretty quickly, working as soon as the swab touches the canvas. They never say what they have used. Definitely not the experience I had with Windsor & Newton picture cleaner. I guess their formula may intentionally err on the safe side.

Thank you - Brooks.

Edited by - Brooks on Feb 28 2019 00:14:46
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Senior Member

728 Posts

Posted - Apr 17 2019 :  21:51:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If you want to clean off smoke and old varnish, start with mineral spirits and slowly add acetone till it starts to remove the dirt and varnish. Use a very soft artists brush to work the area. Don't waste your time with cotton it just gets stuck in the impasto and makes a mess. After you clean the area rinse (wipe clean with soft rag not pour) the area with mineral spirits only to dilute and stop the action of the acetone. Let dry well and coat with a satin waterbase Windsor Newton Varnish. Don't use gloss. It will stick out and glare like a sob. The older the painting the harder the paint. Be very careful with anything painted after the 1960s as the paint may still be somewhat soft. Some say this color or that color bleeds easier. That is somewhat true but I think it just depends on who what where when the paint came from. I've cleaned closer to 1000s of paintings than 100s Don't waste your money on Gainsborough. Most of the chemicals can be bought at a hardware store for a fraction of the cost. Sometimes certain alcohols work better depending on what the painting was covered in originally. Some painters used linseed and it is very difficult to remove. Especially if it is a 100 yers old and it usually is. Fortunately it is less than about 5% of the paintings. After it is clean any tiny spot of missing paint even the size of a pin head will stick out like a sore thumb. Sometimes I use acrylic paints to touch them up because the dry fast and are easy to remove ( not permanent ) but they often have a different hue than oils. If using oils. Varnish 1st then paint over the varnish and it will not be permanent as the varnish acts as a barrier between the painting and over painting. Use Cobalt blue dryer mix with the oil paint and it will dry in a few days as opposed to months or years. Practice with some cheap antique store or ebay paintings before you do anything you care about. And never ever ever use water no matter how small amount.
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Junior Member

United Kingdom
172 Posts

Posted - May 09 2019 :  06:48:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello kmurban, thank you for such a detailed and informative reply. You have made several valuable points I never thought about that will undoubtedly aid my future cleaning efforts.

I previously posted a question about fillers after patch repairs, but no one replied. I found Gainsborough putty online, but I can only find one stockist for Gainsborough products in the UK. So would like to ask if you or anyone else uses any other more readily available fillers, or are there DIY ingredients you use as fillers?

And sorry for the delay, as I have not been on here for a few weeks.

Thank you - Brooks.

Edited by - Brooks on May 09 2019 06:55:30
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