Packaging a painting for shipping

How to securely package a painting for shipping


Whether you are preparing to ship a painting for a gallery exhibit, or to an art collector, you'll want to package the painting securely. There are many ways to package a painting for shipping, so I thought I would share the way I package them. First off, I put my heart and soul into my paintings and I want to make sure that once they leave the studio, they get to their destination in the same condition that they left in. Although I insure every painting that gets shipped, that's not the point - as some work is just irreplaceable! Now we can't protect against some possible catastrophe while in transit. But we can follow some basic rules that will help you securely package a painting for shipping safely anywhere in the world.


Make sure your painting is completely dry and use glassine

First thing is be sure that your painting has fully cured. Currently I paint mostly in acrylic, so my dry times are much faster than if I paint in oil or with heavy gel medium. So be sure the painting is dry and if you varnish, be sure that is dry and cured. Once you know everything is dry and ready to go, wrap your painting in glassine. Sometimes you can buy sheets of glassine at your local art store or online. But I by the roll at Dick Blick's, Jerry's Artarama or Cheap Joe's. I prefer the roll, because it's way more economical & if you paint large, it's more practical. DO NOT wrap a painting with the paint/varnish in direct contact with the bubble wrap. This is especially true if shipping in summer (and if shipping globally, make sure it's not hot temps at its destination). Otherwise you stand a good chance of damaging the painting because of the heat.


[caption id="attachment_4255" align="aligncenter" width="850"]packagin a painting with glassine Wrap face of painting with glassine[/caption]


Use Foamcore or cardboard around painting

Cut 2 pieces of foamcore or cardboard a little larger than the size of the painting. Then sandwich the painting in between the sheets of cardboard and tape securely. Add the corner supports. I usually cut small foam pieces and wrap the corners before attaching corner supports. This not only adds protection, but also helps to ensure a snug fit. Be sure to include the Certificate of Authenticity, Receipt and Thank You card.



[caption id="attachment_4259" align="aligncenter" width="850"]packaging your painting- include documents Tape important papers directly to the painting before wrapping up for shipping[/caption]



Is there enough space in your shipping box for the painting?

Select the box you want to ship it in. Make sure you have a couple of inches of space all the way around the painting from the sides of the box.

Now wrap the entire piece in palette wrap, this will keep your painting dry in the event it were to get wet. Next we'll wrap everything in large bubble wrap. You can get this in a huge 4' wide roll, and is economical this way, if you have the space for it.


[caption id="attachment_4258" align="aligncenter" width="850"]wrap up your painting in bubble wrap Wrap in large bubble before placing in the box.[/caption]


Finally, place the bubble wrapped painting into your shipping box.


[caption id="attachment_4257" align="aligncenter" width="850"]place bubble wrapped painting into shipping box Place the painting in the box with enough bubble wrap to provide a snug fit.[/caption]


Use strong tape and seal it good - make it identifiable

And lastly seal it good with some strong tape. I use filament tape for the edges to seal it real good. Now attach some FRAGILE stickers and your mailing label and you're all set! I like to use some distinguishing color tape on packages so that if they go missing, they are easily identifiable. This year all my packages have a purple stripe of tape across them! I use FedEx primarily for shipping in the US, so the purple fits well and it's one of my fave colors :-)


[caption id="attachment_4256" align="aligncenter" width="850"]painting in package with fragile stickers and ready for shipping This year it's purple tape! Don't forget FRAGILE stickers![/caption]


Where to get boxes?

So for this painting, measurements are 24H x 18W x .75D I'm using a 27 x 23 x 5 box. Actually the box height is adjustable. Luckily there is a shop here in Santa Rosa California that has custom sized boxes, so I buy them in bulk. If you have access to clean, flat, STURDY cardboard you can even make the boxes yourself! I'm always on the lookout for a good deal on boxes and shipping material so please feel free to share any place that you recommend! I find that the cost of the boxes online are reasonable, until you factor in the shipping. Places like Uline and AMAZON offer great deals so keep an eye out.


Shipping Supplies List:

large enough box to accommodate painting


cardboard or foam-core (for heavy paintings use thin LUAN board available at your local home improvement store)

cardboard corners and foam

large bubble wrap

strong tape and/or filament tape


How do YOU package your paintings?

Well I hope this helps some of you who are shipping canvas paintings on stretcher bars. There are lots of different ways to package a painting for shipping, I'm just sharing my way...


Well that's it, got to get back in the studio, so many ideas, so little time!

Hope you're having a good week!!!

Don't forget to give and to love just a little more - we can all surely use it these days.. So keep the good karma going!!!



deb sigline


  1. Thanks for the info Deb, very useful...

  2. I heartily approve of your method Deb. I used to work in the art shipping business in NY many moons ago. Those corner pads are essential. If you can't buy the cardboard ones, then you can just use bubble wrap or another type of spongy wrapping material to wrap around the corners and tape them on. Just make sure you use loads. :)

  3. Hi Deb, Thank you for the input into my Etsy post. Etsy only charge 20 cents per listing and then 3% on sale. I also live in the UK, so not sure how the other sites will fare, but I will definitely look into them. Grateful for all your support. Arlene xx

  4. Great! Hope it helps.

  5. I've been fortunate over the years, so I'm glad to hear that you endorse the corners and foam too Arlene! Anything we can do to make sure our paintings get to their collectors in tip-top shape is important for us all.

  6. Well I'm loving your work Arlene, and hope you will make the jump to Saatchi, you'll be in good company!


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