Art Restoration of Family Portraits Requires Expert Help

I’m sure you’ll agree that the portrait on the left, a pioneer ancestor’s portrait that was loaned to a community celebration and fell off an easel, requires special skills to bring the look in her eyes back to the original “look” that the family loves. In fact, there are many living ancestors of this lady from the 1890s that have the exact same “look” and expressions as she does! Even as massive as this damage is in the most critical and sensitive spot on the portrait, this damage was carefully and critically restored to not be at all detectable. Family received back their pioneer portrait, still a pioneer portrait with only the damaged area being “inpainted” or retouched. In other words, the original portrait was returned to them looking perfect and was not repainted!

Unfortunately, the portrait on the right was “restored” by an artist friend “who normally does nice paintings!” So, it got completely repainted! The background isn’t real (part of the original portrait) and he was wearing a regular long tie, not a bow tie!! All the colors are different from the original. The much beloved father of the client is hardly recognizable and there is going to be a family hysterical upset if this portrait isn’t returned to the original father they love and know.

The situations of these two portraits teaches you an important lesson that I am constantly reinforcing with people I meet: people see the work our art conservation lab does and they remark, “Wow you are such a great artist” or something similar. I always lovingly instruct them that there is nothing creative about what we do. We are NOT artists!! After my bachelors degree, it was the opportunity to work with science to bring about the preservation and restoration of art that drew me to this profession in 1975.

In fact, no one in our fine art conservation laboratory produces artwork or earns any money by making art. My experience is that artists are not detailed enough, not focused enough, and not respectful enough to preserve and protect the original artwork of somebody else. It happens often that they put “their twist” on the restoration work, “improve” the parts they don’t like and think that by making it look better, its restored… with little thought or knowledge about long term preservation. The headlines of the artist-grandmother who restored the picture of Christ for the Spanish church and whose restored painting was renamed “Behold, The Monkey!” may come to mind.

Restoration is not repainting original artworkThough it looks like the original cherub, the color and antique look is gone.

So, after a work of art has been repainted or touched up badly, can it be recouped or saved or re-restored!?” A painful question. Well, yes… but the price, at this point for proper, safe art conservation treatments has just skyrocketed; In this case we charge, of course, for the time and effort to take off any previous bungled restorations. You pay for undoing the sins of the previous “restorer,” and depending on the sensitivity or the underlying original work vs. the quality of the materials the previous “restorer” used, that may render that job quite difficult and expensive. And then once cleaned off, we would start on the proper treatments required.

A Happy Testimonial

Art conservation – restoration questions?

Call Scott M. Haskins or Virginia Panizzon,

Veteran Art Conservators – 805 564 3438

Art restoration of a family portrait DOES NOT involve repainting! Professional art conservation in Los Angeles, Orange County, Santa Barbara County, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City. @ScottMHaskins @ArtRestoration @FineArtConservationLab @Paintingrestoration @FamilyHistory @Geneaology

What can you do at home?

See videos on YouTube Channel PreservationCoach:

“I can do it for you for less.” Short video of how all photos, scrapbooks, documents, family history AND THE BACKUP COPIES were lost in a house fire. Leave a comment!

Search in the side bar of this blog

for “family portrait” for other examples.

Vandalism is unfortunately an issue.

An enraged family member or fiancé that wants to hurt the family can reach out to attack the ancestor. We’ve seen it many times.

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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40 Responses to Art Restoration of Family Portraits Requires Expert Help

  1. Daniel says:

    More people need to know about this beautiful website and the wonderful work that everyone at the Fine Art Conservation Lab is doing. I always find inspiration and beauty in your posts, Scott! I only wish you’d have time to post more.

  2. Zoe says:

    It’s hard to believe that someone would just draw on a painting and ruin it but it happens way too often. I am always disappointed when I see such a thing because that painting or portrait took months or more to create and might be something very special to some people. To destroy it like this…

  3. Andrew says:

    Thank you for all your important videos that you share on your Youtube channel. I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when something bad happens plus how to protect paintings.

  4. Matthew says:

    “the sins of the previous restorer” – sometimes these sins are so big that you don’t know if there’s anything left. My 130 year old family portrait had suffered some scratches over the years and I wanted it restored. But I picked someone without many references, basing my decision on the word of mouth of a friend. It was a mistake. A costly one. Always go to an expert, someone like Mr. Haskins here, someone who knows exactly what to do and what not to do. You’ll get peace of mind and a painting or portrait returned to its former glory.

  5. Andrew says:

    Thank you for all your important videos that you share on your Youtube channel. I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when something bad happens plus how to protect paintings.

  6. Lisa says:

    I absolutely loved the video testimonials, Scott! You should ask more people to do this so that others can truly understand the value of your work. You are doing a big service to museums and collectors or families with your beautiful restorations!

    • Thanks Lisa! Actually, I have about 10 videos that are “in the can” but not finished with editing… its a matter of hours to get it done. I get lots of positive feedback from the testimonials though. It seems other people agree with you.

    • Hailey Martin says:

      Wholeheartedly agree! I know there’s a Testimonials page on the site but you should also include such a video in almost every post you do. Some people might not check the testimonials page and miss out on something special.

  7. Sylvia says:

    I’ve had someone “restore” one of our family portraits and he did a very bad job of it. I was very disappointed with the end result and to have to pay for such a thing. I then learned about Mr. Haskins and his past art restoration projects and after reading a few things about him I decided to give it another go. I was not very hopeful that he could undo the bad that was done. It took time, effort and a lot of money but what Mr. Haskins managed to do is almost like a miracle! It’s like my father’s portrait has just been painted. He is looking at me, happy as I’ve always known him.

    Oh, Mr. Haskins, thank you for your hard work and persistence, dear sir!

    With appreciation of your craft,
    Sylvia from Las Vegas

  8. Zoey says:

    I’m very curious: what happened to the portrait on the right, the one at the start of your article? If it doesn’t look anything like the original, why did the painter make it this way? It makes no sense to me. If I have a painting that means a lot to me I don’t want it changed and if it’s repainted then it better be a faithful reproduction.

    • It makes no sense because its a complete disconnect and disrespect by someone to change a work of art, someone’s genius and creation, especially if its a cherished heirloom! You are asking me to know the mind of an artist?!

  9. Alexander Philips says:

    Thank you, Scott M. Haskins for always giving your best when working and for returning precious portraits back to life!

    A very happy customer,
    Alexander Philips

  10. Leah says:

    Oh, I had forgotten about the “restoration” of the picture of Christ for the Spanish church. I was both shocked and amused when I first saw this. I can’t imagine having to restore this and coming up with that end result. It’s just mind-boggling to me.

  11. Zoey says:

    I’m very curious: what happened to the portrait on the right, the one at the start of your article? If it doesn’t look anything like the original, why did the painter make it this way? It makes no sense to me. If I have a painting that means a lot to me I don’t want it changed and if it’s repainted then it better be a faithful reproduction.

  12. Marshall T. Smith says:

    The Fine Art Conservation Lab is the best place to go to for any restoration project. I’ve worked with 5 other people/companies before meeting Scott Haskins and none match his devotion to the craft. At the end of the day, you want the best working on your paintings or family portraits, don’t you? I know I do and that’s why Scott is the first I call for help. Thank you, Scott, for all the help you’ve provided in these past 20 years!

    With respect and friendship,
    Marshall T. Smith

  13. Alexis says:

    WOW! You’ve been doing this for almost 50 years, Scott? You must have a lot of interesting stories from things that happened during these decades. It’s so inspiring to see someone with as much experience as yourself being so dedicated to his work. It’s motivating me to follow my passion and not be afraid of failure or doubting myself so much.

  14. Thanks for sharing a few examples of touched-up portraits throughout the years which will really out a perspective on you. Personally, I’d trust an art restoration service after reviewing what their previous clients have to say about them. This way, you’ll know that you’re investing and entrusting your precious photo or work of art in the hands of an expert who knows what they’re doing.

  15. Joshua says:

    If you’re looking for an art restoration expert in Los Angeles or Santa Barbara, then look no further. I’ve been working with Mr. Haskins for years now on at least a dozen projects and he always does what he says he’ll do. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is one of the best in this profession.

  16. Patricia says:

    It’s hard for me to even begin to understand how you would go about fixing a portrait like the one on the left (at the top of this page)! If this had happened to me, I would think it was beyond saving and restoring. It’s good to know there are knowledgeable and passionate people, like yourself, Mr. Haskins, that can fix these kinds of problems. I hope I never have to face something like this but if I do…

    All the best,

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