When you need to transport an oil painting and it’s sunny out, it’s only natural to worry. With that in mind, will oil paintings melt? While the paints themselves should be fine, you do have to worry about their support. In temperatures which are over 75 degrees Fahrenheit there is a possibly of the support expanding and this can cause your oil paint to crack and become damaged. Avoiding direct sunlight whenever you can is a good idea.
Today I’ll tell you a little more about heat and oil paintings so that you can have a better idea of the do’s and don’t when it comes to warmer temperatures. Let’s discuss oil paintings, heat, and what you need to know!
Is it safe to hang an oil painting over a fireplace?
Hanging your oil painting over a fireplace is a bad idea. You also want to avoid radiators the kitchen, and other areas where your painting is going to be exposed to constant heat. Oil paintings are quite sensitive to this and can become damaged over time, though more commonly it’s going to be the support and once that expands then your dried oil paints might get ‘stretched’ and they’ll crack.
With a fireplace, you’ve also got a risk of soot or smoke buildup over time. While it’s a very gradual process, it can and will eventually build up on the surface and you’ll eventually have to get it cleaned and hope that no underlying support damage has made said cleaning a risk.
Heat can even cause chemical reactions or moisture reduction damage, so your best bet is to make sure that you hang your painting a distance from direct heat sources in your home, as well as out of direct sunlight. Even specialized frames won’t necessarily keep the heat out, so it’s always better to be on the safe side where your beloved art is concerned!
Can you leave an oil painting outside?
You may have heard stories about some of the old masters leaving their paintings outside to dry and there is some truth to this. Drying them in sunlight actually seems to brighten up paintings that have a linseed medium to them and they can dry quite quickly. The trick is to only leave them in the sunlight for a few hours and only do this in mild temperatures.
That said, there are some caveats. If it’s windy, for instance, then you could get dust accumulation, and there’s also the risk of inclement weather. If it suddenly starts raining, for instance, then you’ll wish that you had dried indoors. You can always put your drying painting in front of the window and circulate the air a bit with a nearby fan as a bit of a compromise.
As far as leaving a finished painting outside, that is a different animal. You want to avoid leaving finished paintings in direct sunlight as you don’t want to risk the canvas itself responding to the heat and if the painting is unvarnished, then you DEFINITELY don’t want it outside. That varnish provides some UV protection that an unvarnished painting simply won’t have, and at that point you risk your colors fading.
Can you put an oil painting in the oven?
While it sounds odd, you can actually put an oil painting in the oven. There are a few rules that you’ll want to follow to avoid any mishaps, but it’s generally going to be safe for the paints, the canvas, and isn’t going to poison your oven. While some oil pigments have heavy metals, the baking process isn’t going to make them circulate in the air, so that’s one less worry.
You DO want to make sure that you don’t have wet solvents, though. If you wait 2 or 3 weeks before putting the painting in the oven, then you won’t be at risk for said solvents combusting and it will help the oils themselves to harden more quickly.
You’ll also want to only ‘bake’ the painting for a 5 to 10 minutes at a time and give it lots of time to cool before you touch it or repeat the process. Finally, do NOT use the broil setting, and make sure that you are keeping the temperature at around 250 degrees but no more.
There are some more tips that you can find in a great 3rd party article here and I highly recommend that you give it a read before you try baking your paintings. While it’s definitely something that you can do, you want to make sure that you are doing it right, so be sure to give link a read before you try the process on your own.
Some closing words
Today I’ve answered the question ‘will oil paintings melt’ and we’ve talked a little more about how oil paintings react with heat. While oil paints won’t melt, you do have to worry about your painting support expanding and cracking your paints. Aside from this, heat isn’t always bad, as oil paintings were sometimes traditionally dried in sunlight and you can even bake them in an oven – you just need to be careful.
Just try to avoid sunlight and heat whenever possible when the work is done!