The Conservation of Guy Wiggins – Episode 5: “The Image As Centerpiece”

The Conservation of Guy Wiggins – Episode 5: “The Image As Centerpiece”


At this point during the conservation process
we’ve come to a major transition. We’ve removed and reversed the affects of
age and environment, undone the previous work and taken steps to stabilize the painting
for the future. Yet now we can turn our attention to the image
and begin working to ensure that it presents as well as possible. Before any more work will be executed an isolation
varnish will be applied to the painting. This conservation varnish will provide a physical
barrier between the original painting and any fill-in and retouching that may be applied. Even though all of the materials used during
this whole process are reversible, the use of an isolation varnish makes sure that removal
process is as easy as can be and that he new materials never come into contact with the
original. This isolation layer is thinly brushed on
and allowed to dry over several days. This painting was fortunate that it didn’t
suffer any major trauma and the paint layer is almost completely present. Nonetheless there are some small areas of
paint loss at the edges. And while this may not seem like a major issue,
particularly as the frame rabbet will likely cover up to one quarter of an inch of the
edge of the painting, discussions with my client and an understanding of this paintings
value both economic and cultural led to the decision to address any and all losses no
mater how small or where they were located. Some clients and paintings require a minimal
approach, others maximal and it’s up to the conservator to align the work performed with
the desires of the client. Using a low-shrinkage gap-filling putty areas
of paint loss will be replaced and if necessary textured to match the surrounding impasto. Once the putty has dried the overfill or excess
will be removed. Using small cotton swabs and distilled water
the medium can be softened and lifted off the surface. It’s imperative that only the areas of loss
are filled, as anything more would be unnecessary and inappropriate. This process can require multiple passes as
poor preparation at this stage will only yield poor results during the retouching. Again, in the case of this painting the fill-in
is minimal and as such there isn’t much excess that needs to be removed. The retouching of paintings is one of the
most exciting and frustrating aspects of conservation. It is at this stage that the conservator will
be required, through the application of new materials in varying methods of employ, to
determine how to make the image whole. There are many differing approaches to retouching
with each having benefits and drawbacks. There are approaches that seek to fully eliminate
any evidence of damage, others that seek to preserve all of the damage and those in the
middle that try to achieve a balance of sorts. Ultimately it’s my opinion that there’s no
perfect method of retouching. Each painting is unique, each conservator
is unique and each client is, well, unique. Two clients may see the same painting and
demand radically different results. Likewise two conservators may have very firm
opinions on the so-called correct approach. In my experience the only way to resolve these
potential issues is by discussing them with the client and trying to understand their
wants and needs and using that as a guiding principal. And ultimately as the pigments are archival
and reversible if another owner or conservator wished to take a different approach, my work
can be easily removed. I’m using restuaro paints from the Maimeri
company of Italy that contain no oil. As such they will never oxidize, change color
or become permanent. And while these paints don’t act like oil
paints, can’t be applied with the same ease of blending and dry very rapidly the process
of color mixing is much the same. There’s no secret to matching colors, just
years of experience and practice. Eventually with enough time at the easel one
can understand how to mix just about any color with the available palette. And just like the fill-in medium it’s imperative
that only the areas of loss are retouched. No pigment shall be applied to the original
paint layer; only where the paint is missing. And while much of the work completed thus
far was very effective at mitigating the appearance of the cracks the most prominent and visually
distracting ones will be retouched. With the retouching completed the final varnish
can now be applied. This layer of varnish will allow me to adjust
the sheen and appearance of the painting. Some paintings require more gloss, some require
none, and at this stage by controlling the flow, atomization and distance from the painting
varying effects can be achieved. And because I don’t want to disturb the isolation
layer or retouching this final varnish will be applied with an HVLP spray system. A final check for dust and contamination ensures
that the surface is just so.

100 thoughts on “The Conservation of Guy Wiggins – Episode 5: “The Image As Centerpiece”

  1. I love your work but importantly, I am much more impressed at how neat your studio is. Perhaps a video of how you keep everything organized and clean would be nice or a "studio tour" so to speak.

  2. Question: do you have a particular movement that you particularly enjoy conserving?/Are the techniques of some art movements easier to restore and recreate? I find these videos completely fascinating.

  3. Love this series – was this the last one though? Would have liked to see the full finished product rather than just finishing at the final varnish!?

  4. The videos have gotten a lot better and in my opinion, to show definitions each time a technical concept is used helps a lot!! This channel should definitely get much more recognition, it is well deserved

  5. This is a great video thank you. Question: Do you ever provide a detailed list of what treatments/varnishes have been used on the final restored artwork? Im thinking it would be a huge favor for the next person to work on a piece. Thank you.

  6. Well done, Julian! Have enjoyed everything you've posted. Is the old palette still around or did you get rid of it? I admit, I loved seeing it in each of your videos. It brought back many fond memories of watching my mom paint, back in the day.

  7. I know it's literally your job to be so careful and through with your restorations but it really is incredible the dedication and respect you give every piece you retouch.

  8. I would love to see a video where you talk about any incidents where clients did not like the work (I can't see that being possible, but it could happen)

  9. you changed your palette 🙁 I know some people were giving you hard time about it. Im sure you have your reasons. But I hope you didnt feel bullied into it.

  10. Is there going to be more episodes like this? I really enjoyed this little series, maybe there'll be more to come!

  11. I wonder if there is room for digital retouching… much in the way computers can be used to map projections onto buildings, I wonder if one day light could be mapped onto areas of missing pigment. At the same time conserving the object, while displaying the artist's intentions.

    Obviously beyond today's technology, but for how long?

  12. Would we ever be able to have a studio tour? It seems like a lot of the original parts of the building are still there, like the floor and some windows.

  13. These clients sound like such aholes. I HATE dealing with people who want things PERFECT. Like no ones perfect girl, and nothing will ever be good enough for you so go take a hike.

  14. 1:01, I've been wondering, if it needs to dry over several days, how do you avoid letting dust get set on the layer?

  15. 'There's no secret to matching colours, just years of experience and practice.'

    Dear Lord, never have I ever been in such awe of non-digital artists. I need my colour wheel. 🙁

  16. I have really been enjoying this series! Thank you for going into such detail on your process and I look forward to seeing more restorations in the future!

  17. I am really enjoying this series but I wished it would be in less parts. Maybe all about ten or 15 minutes long.

  18. Thanks for making this series. It was so illuminating, and I enjoyed looking over your shoulder as you work. I hope this series proves popular and that we'll see more in the future!

  19. Do you think you could make these videos longer? I love each and every thing done in conserving, and it’s very relaxing. Wonderful work!

  20. The music is very distracting. Is it really necessary? The voiceover and sounds from the restoration are plenty relaxing and informative. Maybe try a more conservative approach to the soundtrack and only fill in where appropriate? 😉

  21. I wish they would say the price of each restoration job. Also what a cool job. I wonder how much restorers make?

  22. Love it! The cracks would drive me nuts though. Great work. How long do you spend on a typical project?

  23. I actually watch these to help me sleep and they're also extremely calming and nice to watch. I never really feel stressed even though it's considered a "high stakes" job to be working on.

  24. I really really want to know the names of the pieces of music he used in this video. Especially the opening one

  25. you have done a miraculous job and made all of us in the art world proud…thank you….and you should do more voice over on your restorations you have a soothing voice and I like to hear what is going on as much as I like to watch.

  26. I'm a theatre student in Chicago and I've been falling asleep to these videos for months. at 4:03 when he showed his view I realized this building is within a BLOCK of my school's library. Unbelievable

  27. What type of paint thinner do you use when applying retouching? Do you find it makes any difference in avoiding damage or irreversible change to the original paint layer? Or does the isolation layer make this completely irrelevant?

  28. Question to Julian of Baumgartner: Why don't you use a push cart when relocating your restorations? Isn't there a fear of tripping?

  29. Olá ! Nossa não tem palavras pra descrever o que vc faz, é magnífico poder trazer de volta toda a beleza de um quadro , parabéns

  30. my two favorite parts are cleaning and retouching. you could post HOURS of you doing those two things and i’d watch every second of it <3

  31. damn this client really seems to give a shit about a painting that the artist didn't even bother to tell them the name of…

  32. Question: why in some paintings you do the varnish layer before the retouching and not in others? I'm binge watching your channel right now 😂

  33. Question – Since the painting has a lot of white, how do you remember where you have put the filler to paint over it? :S

  34. why do u sometimes put the isolation varnish before the filling and sometimes after? you had said in previous videos that u normally put it after because the filling does not attach very well on the varnish, but in this one u did the varnish first. thank you!

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