How to pack up a painting:
Step 1: Lay some bubble wrap or some sheets of white packing paper FLAT on the floor or on a table- a flat surface. (You can also use: Sheets, towels, blankets, fabric... You can do a layer of paper and then the fabric for padding if you wish. The layer of paper will help protect from any fuzz from the fabric sticking to your painting.)
Step 2: Carefully take the painting or artwork off the wall.
Step 3: Lay it down FLAT on top of the bubble wrap or packing paper.
Step 4: Carefully fold the bubble wrap or packing paper around the painting.DO NOT BALL UP THE EXCESS! Keep it all very nice and flat. (Pretend you're wrapping a pretty gift for your mom. "Mom! Aren't you impressed with my wrapping skills? See? I told you I can be good at something!")
Step 5: Tape it together neatly.
Step 6: Place it into a box and tape the box closed.
How not to pack up a painting:
Step 1: Shove a bunch of packing paper down into a box.
Step 2. Take the painting off the wall and shove it in the box. Smush the paper.
Step 3: Fold and cram a bunch more paper around the frame of the painting and along the sides and top.
Step 4: Make sure you have excess paper to ball it up and shove it in front of or behind the canvas.
In the last 2 days I unpacked 3 paintings and two of them are damaged pretty badly. Paper- many, many sheets of folded and balled up white packing paper- was shoved around/behind/in front of the canvas and as a result I've got bubbles in my canvas the size of my fist. I'd like to find the person who packed them and give him a new hole in his head the size of my fist.
I am confident that I would be acquitted by a jury of my arteest peers.
My advice to any artist who is moving is to be sure and pack up all your own paintings. Don't make the mistake that I did and think "The movers are PROFESSIONALS! They know what they're doing! They can probably do a better job than me because THIS IS WHAT THEY GET PAID TO DO!"
I'll be looking around online for some advice on how to fix the canvas- a few products have been recommended to me by artist friends. I might call some local framing/art restoration shops and see if they can do it for me or what they would recommend.
After I get them fixed- if they can be fixed- I'll be sure to post about it so that anyone else who runs into this problem can find a solution and not cry about it like I did.
EDIT: I left the canvases sitting out and after a couple of months they, pretty much, went back to the way they were. If you look very hard you can sort of tell, from some little cracks in the paint, but they are not a total loss.