Care should always be exercised when handling paintings. Damage can occur that is not immediately visible, and only becomes apparent as the painting ages. I stretch my canvasses over a braced panel, which is useful in preventing damage in several ways: it limits the movement of the canvas while the painting is being moved; it protects the painting from mechanical damage that can dent or puncture the canvas; it insulates the back of the canvas from the atmosphere (the front is insulated by the paint surface) thus limiting the effects of environmental change; and it keeps out dust and foreign objects. It also creates a sturdy support for paintings even when unframed.

One should not hang paintings where they will be exposed to direct sunlight, as this can lead to fading of the pigments, yellowing of the varnish, and excessive temperature fluctuations on the paint surface. They should not be hung over fireplaces, or heating and air-conditioning vents, as these are also sites of extreme temperature fluctuation. They should not be hung in bathrooms or kitchens where there is an excess of air moisture.

Avoid dusting paintings with feather brushes as these can scratch the surface. A soft hair brush (such as a make-up brush) is preferable. Any other cleaning should be left to a reputable conservator. More information on cleaning here.

Some yellowing of the linseed oil in oil paints is normal for the first few years. This will bleach out again with normal indoor exposure to light. Storing paintings in dark conditions will also lead to yellowing of the oil, but this will also bleach out with exposure to indoor light.

Varnishing a work will help to protect it. This should only be done twelve months after the painting is completed, to give the paint time to properly dry. As a courtesy, I usually offer to varnish works that were sold before they could be varnished, but the onus is on the owner to get the work to me and collect it when it is ready. Otherwise, owners could approach a reputable conservator to do it; they should not attempt to do it themselves.