Have you ever found an old painting in your basement or attic and wondered about its history and where it comes from? Was it passed on from a relative? Is it so damaged or marred that the thought of repairing it is inconceivable? There is help in restoring, conserving and preserving original paintings closer than you think.

Debbe Daley learns about art conservation from artist/consultant Peter Kostoulakos of Lowell, as they examine a genre painting, circa late 1800s, that
Debbe Daley learns about art conservation from artist/consultant Peter Kostoulakos of Lowell, as they examine a genre painting, circa late 1800s, that KosĀ­toulakos will do work on. Conservation of an oil painting (as opposed to restoration) is done with acrylic, so any changes are reversible, and colors stay constant. Oil paint would change color over time. Sun/Julia Malakie

Lowell native Peter Kostoulakos is a professional artist, fine art consultant and art conservator. Conservation and preservation of original artwork is a passion of Peter's. Through his craft, training and the gift of an artistic eye, he restores original paintings to a near-pristine state.

His talent for conservation of easel-size oil paintings on fabric and solid supports is detailed and restoring the painting to its almost original state one of his gifts. Some of Peter's services include cleaning, lining, strip lining, inpainting, varnishing, and custom stretchers.

When I was recently asked to assist on a renovation project for Peter, I noticed a painting in the kitchen, a landscape of bright greens and blues framed in gold.


Instantly, I knew that was my inspiration in designing the renovation.

Although Peter is an art restorer, he is also an artist himself. His paintings are magnificent in color and detail. From a very young age, he wanted to be an artist. His first painting was created when he was 14 years old; an eagle, one of his mother's favorites, is proudly displayed in her memory. Also a favorite is "The Greek Fisherman," which evolved as Peter was applying paint from his palette and layering it onto Masonite. Peter's father's vision of the creation happening before his eyes transformed it into the masterpiece that he proudly titled "The Greek Fisherman."

Sparked by my interest in his paintings and his work, we moved on to his workshop, where the magical transformation begins.

Painting conservation refers to the restoration and preservation of the work. Peter begins this process by carefully examining and testing the painting before he cleans it or makes any repairs. When retouching is necessary, it is applied to the damaged area only.

The painting is then lined using a synthetic polyester canvas. Missing canvas will be filled in with strips from the tacking edge of the canvas if possible. Once this process is completed, the canvas is stretched and stapled to the frame. A basic color is applied and then matched to the original color in layers with the goal of layering it like the original artist layered the paint.

The final product in Peter's conservation of original oil paintings is a renewed, clear view of the artist's intentions.

He also provides some good advice for anyone adding art to their collection. "Paintings of women sell, paintings of children sell, paintings of dead guys don't sell," he says.

The journey of conserving a painting you may have in your home is fascinating and also increases the value of the artwork.

Debbe Daley, owner of Debbe Daley Designs, is an interior designer with more than 25 years of experience as a professional interior redesigner, stylist, stager, trainer and project manager. Follow her blog at blogs.lowellsun.com/daleydecor.