We are often asked for advice on climate control, mending tears, consolidating flaking paint, etc. Such requests are likely to continue to be common. Art owners should investigate the restoration procedure; understand the basic restoration techniques and required expertise before you engage a painting restoration specialist.
DO NOT restore your damaged silk/paper painting unless it is urgent and necessary. If the painting is not in a severely deteriorated or damaged condition, do not restore it. The restoration of a precious painting can be very risky if the restorer does not follow the traditional methods and know enough about the treatment of a damaged painting. Not only the restorer's understanding of the painting medium (silk, paper, satin) but also his hand-on experience on identifying the physical features of the medium (age, structure, strength and weakness) in question are required. A proper restoration of Chinese paintings on silk or paper, for example, demands not only an art historian's knowledge of the artist and his artistic merits, a Chinese painting mounting specialist's skills and knowledge of traditional Chinese mounting styles, aesthetics and techniques. In short, the restorer's ability to identify the material in question, its age and causes for problems is the base for an appropriate painting restoration.
The differences between an acceptable craftsman and a restoration specialist often either attribute to value or diminish the value of the subject painting. The specialist should have a general knowledge of what techniques and media should be adopted in repairing an antique Chinese painting, and he or she needs to first diagnose the problem, the causes, thinking through the restoration process. Second, s/he has to design a restoration plan with great details spelt out clearly. Third, s/he must be aware of possible unexpected consequences and have a good remedy to deal with them. The truth is that the ability of "a Painting Doctor" like a "M.D." in the medical practice varies from one to the other. Sometimes, it is hard for a layman to judge the skills or the quality of a "painting doctor" provides. To complicate the situation, an oil painting restorer may not possess the knowledge of and the skills for restoring an old Asian scroll painting on silk or paper.
Restoring or cleaning a traditional Chinese scroll painting is a serious business. Unless you know what you are doing, or have a general knowledge of traditional Asian painting's mounting and restoration techniques, you may run into many obstacles before you have your damaged painting restored or cleaned to its original glory. Please keep in mind that a failed restoration often leaves a dent on the value of the painting. A repeated restoration would default the original color, inviting doubts on the authenticity of the painting. If you believe the restoration is definitely necessary, you need to be extremely cautious and consult an Asian painting specialist before you commission a restoration.