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Cleaning A Layer Of Nicotine Yellow Off A Painting – Case in Point, Delirium Flesh by David Mann

Giclee by David Mann, Delirium Flesh

Delirium Flesh by David Mann

I’m delivering this back to its owner tomorrow. He’ll be thrilled to see the wonderful colors “back.” He really loves this print/giclee. It goes well with his Harley. This was a case when the love justifies the price even though the value may not.

This painting was a an investment purchase by an art collector. Cleaning the nicotine yellow layer really improved the colors… or should I say returned the colors back to their original appearance. Given the value of the artwork, the decision to restore the painting (clean and varnish it) was a no brainer.

Removing the yellow layer of nicotine from off a painting

Cleaning off the layer of yellow nicotine from a painting

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About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the “Save Your Stuff” series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at

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10 Responses to Cleaning A Layer Of Nicotine Yellow Off A Painting – Case in Point, Delirium Flesh by David Mann

  1. Scott M. Haskins says:

    Yes, it is possible… but don’t watercolors usually have glass over them?

  2. Steve Lomske says:

    Can you clean nicotine from a watercolor?

  3. Cleaning the yellow from nicotine always makes me sick thinking that someone voluntarily coated their insides with that stuff. I’m glad it comes off paintings.

  4. Mandy Helgren says:

    That nicotine layer was gross! I can’t believe people don’t see that on their paintings. Thanks for showing us this interesting situation. I’m going to check out “the damage” in my parents home next time I go there.

  5. Chastity Schultz says:

    It grosses me out to see the yellow crud on items around the house of my parents who are smokers and is very evident on our framed things. To think that nicotine layer is in there bodies my me get goose bumps. Thanks for the post.

  6. Scott M. Haskins says:

    Thanks for the comment Payson, You will not be able to get your artwork completely clean. You could go clean a varnished painting with Q-tips and saliva (spit) without damaging the art, if you are careful. But any off the shelf cleaner you would think to use will probably have long tern negative effects on the appearance and preservation of the artwork. This is something that should be done right by a professional art conservator.

  7. Payson Sanchez says:

    I never imagined than smoking could be bad for art! Its almost funny. Wow, what a difference from cleaning. I’m supposing that cleaning my art by myself is not an option?

  8. Lan Mizer says:

    Interesting paintings! That Harley Davidson one is really cool. I like your profession of restoring art.

  9. Scott M. Haskins says:

    Thanks for leaving your question Michele. There are a bunch of problems in trying to give you an “industry standard” or a per square inch price for cleaning paintings. For example, in the 1950’s, acrylic paints came into use and the potential for damage during cleaning is different than oils. There are many other questions too. So, I would suggest that you avoid anyone that gives you a firm estimate over the phone or otherwise without seeing the artwork first hand. You can get “ball park” guesstimates… we often clean paintings that are about 20″ x 24″ for $300-$400… but a cleaning test must be made and an examination for other problems is required before giving a firm price. Our art conservation company (FACL, Inc.) does not charge for estimates and verbal evaluations in our lab. On your part, you need to decide how perfect you want the artwork to look. There may be options in the treatments that can leave the cleaning or other treatments “less perfect” if you are short on funds. Feel free to call me to discuss further if you like. Call me on my mobile phone at 805 570 4140. Best wishes! Scott

  10. Michele says:

    Hello. I am beginning to acquire some oil paintings done by my aunt, painted in the 1950s and sitting in unknown homes before they got to me. The two I have seem a little dull. They’re oils. I suspect nicotine and just old fashioned age. I probably will try and locate someone in the Delaware/Philly area but I am curious what would one expect to pay for a good cleaning.

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