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His goal is to buy low, sell high, turning the paintings over in a short period of time. Various types of prints—e.g., etchings and lithographs, watercolors, and artwork in other mediums—are not covered.While some tips also apply to these categories, others will not.The bottom of the top stretcher should be dirt free.If the painting is on board, the board should show signs of warping or cracking. Recently, I inspected an oil painting that had been professionally restored. “Staples indicate reproduction” is a good general rule, but not the only rule used to spot a reproduction. Dirt, grim and the other particles and chemicals in the air age a canvas.A back surface exhibiting shallow planing grooves indicates an 18th- or early 19th-century board. Rapid humidity and temperature changes, especially when oil paintings are stored in attics, basements, garages, and other storage areas without heat or air conditioning, also create brittleness in a painting’s canvas, surface cracking, etc.The flat bottom plane did not arrive until the early 19th century. Repairs (good, bad or indifferent) and/or relining often indicate age.Be suspicious of any framed and matted “oil painting” that is covered with glass and has a flat back.The odds are over 99 percent that the painting is a print. Because a picture is on a stretcher does not mean it is an oil painting.

When viewing a painting on the wall or looking downward as you hold it in your hands, your eyes correct defects and faults.I use a different set of classifications when doing my initial sort for oil paintings. The artist signatures, usually one name, are fake, many of them spelling variations of famous artists.I assign each painting to one of six groups: works by (1) paint-by-number artists, (2) starving/hack artists, (3) department/furniture store art, (4) self-taught amateurs, (5) local artists with some academic training (emphasis on “some), and (6) professionally trained artists. Several times a year your local newspaper carries an advertisement for a large quantity of such paintings available for sale at a local motel. Department/Furniture store art is mass-produced as well, albeit in smaller quantities.To read When someone mentions oil painting, the tendency is to automatically think “oil on canvas.” Canvas is just one surface medium.Oil paintings are found on artist board, ceramics, glass, paper, slate and wood, just to name a few.

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