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Answering the Question: Where Should I Hang My Oil Painting?

And: "Where should I not hang my oil painting?"

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

And: "Where should I  not  hang my oil painting?"

Many collectors want to display their beautiful original oil paintings everywhere throughout their homes and offices. However, they also ask, "Where should I NOT hang my oil painting?"

The answer to this question can get complicated quickly, so let's dive right in and share the elements that make the perfect environment for your oil painting and where it's best to hang a replica or print -- or where an oil painting might require added protection.

What is the  perfect oil painting environment?

Short answer: a museum.

Just kidding! You can absolutely hang your beautiful oil painting in your home or office. You should be able to enjoy it every day and display it to your loved ones, guests, clients, and business partners.

However, some places in a home or office are more damaging to oil paintings than others. So, before we get into where you should not hang your artwork (or where you should offer it some extra protection), let's discuss the perfect environment for oil painting preservation.

Oil paintings stay well-preserved in clean, dry environments without direct sunlight.

You may be thinking, "I've been in plenty of museums with enormous windows that let in an abundance of sunlight." That's where we get into the tips for extra oil painting protection. In your museum example, the well-lit rooms likely have a UV-coated picture framing glass (called "conservation glass") over the painting. They probably also applied UV coating on their windows, keeping harmful rays away from the precious art.

This immediately brings us to the question:

Where should I  NOT  hang my oil painting?

Some areas around the house are not ideal for hanging oil paintings. Here is a short list:

  • Moist environments like kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Above a frequently used fireplace or over a heating vent. (Never fear, scroll down for some important tips and workarounds for hanging work artwork safely above a fireplace.)
  • In direct sunlight when the windows have not been UV treated.
  • In a smoking room or other designated "smoky" area.

The main issues are heat, moisture, UV rays, and smoke. Dust, food, grease, and other unwelcome particles can also damage a varnished painting if not properly cleaned.

Now that we have given you a short list, we will also provide solutions so that you can decorate your home or office in the way that best matches your aesthetic. This list will offer solutions to each of the above issues.

1. UV-treat your windows

If you are an avid collector, we highly recommend applying a UV treatment to your windows. This allows you to hang your collection exactly how you see fit without worrying about UV damage to your oil paintings.

2. Clean the painting regularly

Using the proper cleaning supplies to clean a piece regularly is vital if you place it in a non-ideal environment. Dust, smoke, moisture, and other particles can damage the artwork. But some of these can be rapidly cleaned off a properly varnished oil painting.

One such proper cleaning tool for oil paintings is the sable or badger hair brush you can find at an art supply store. A light dusting with these can help remove dust and dirt particles without scratching the surface. A beauty sponge cleansed with distilled water can be used to gently remove small spots of dirt from a painting. However, if you see chips, scratches, moisture spots, or grease spots on a piece, then you will need to get it professionally restored.

3. Insulate your painting from heat sources

Many collectors wish to display their prized paintings over a fireplace. This makes sense as the fireplace is the focal point of the room. However, if you plan to show your oil painting this way, you must ensure it is heavily insulated from any fires - and you should rotate it out every month or so if that fireplace is actively in use.

Here are some commonly used insulation methods:

  • Installing a fireplace mantle.
  • Hanging the piece high - well above the heat-generating fireplace.
  • Ensuring the flu is insulated and regularly cleaned.

Additionally, never place glass over a painting that is hung above a fireplace. When exposed to heat, glass can shatter, harming the artwork.

Again, none of the above methods are foolproof. It's a smart idea to rotate any artwork hanging above an active fireplace and ensure it is cleaned regularly.

4. Frame your painting in its own microclimate

At the Erin Hanson Gallery, we use a floater or open impressionism frame, which means that the painting is not cut off by a frame, allowing the collector to see the entire image. It also means that the varnished oil painting is exposed to the environment in which it is hung.

If you plan to hang your piece in a high-moisture environment, you can have the work reframed by conservation specialists. A conservation specialist will ensure that the microclimate within the air-tight frame is ideal for the painting. They may include specialty materials that will help to control humidity and keep the art free of pollutants so that it can be hung in moisture-rich environments, like a kitchen or bathroom.

5. Properly hang your painting

A properly hung painting will help extend its lifespan. For example, in #3 above, where we discuss hanging a piece over a fireplace, choosing to place the work high above the mantle can help to protect it. This is also the case with hanging artwork in a kitchen. Keeping it away from an oven where heat and grease splatter can harm the work can help to preserve it.

Additionally, correctly hanging your art means that the piece has the appropriate support. This is vital because a poorly hung painting can still sustain damage due to a fall, even if the environment is perfect. We highly recommend Ook-brand hanging hooks.
1 - 20 pound hooks /  5 - 50 pound hooks. If you live in a region that gets earthquakes, you can use earthquake protection hooks, to prevent the painting from falling off the wall.

I hope this article helps you determine where to hang (and not to hang) your art collection. 


Erin Hanson ArtistERIN HANSON has been painting in oils since she was 8 years old. As a young artist, she worked at a mural studio creating 40-foot-tall paintings on canvas, while selling art commissions on the side. After getting a degree in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, Erin became a rock climber at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Inspired by the colorful scenery she was climbing, she decided to paint one painting every week for the rest of her life. She has stuck to that decision ever since, becoming one of the most prolific artists in history. Erin Hanson's style is known as "Open Impressionism" and is now taught in art schools worldwide. With thousands of collectors eagerly anticipating her work and millions of followers online, Hanson has become an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of contemporary impressionism.

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