• What are pastels?

Pastels are pure pigment produced in a stick form with binder. Usually pastel artists produce their art on paper, but there have been contemporary movements towards using pastel wet and using pastel on canvas. Artist quality pastel manufacturers guarantee that their pastels are colourfast. Student quality pastels contain cheap chemical pigments which fade over time. Pastels are available:

in stick form (soft to medium pastels) in various sizes according to whether they are manufactured by hand or rolled in machines;

hard pastels which contain less binder;

pan pastels which are used with sponges;

and pastel pencils which artists normally use for fine detail.

Artist quality pastels can last longer than some other art materials – there are pastel works still in existence created by artists over the centuries where we have lost some of their oil paintings. When you see pastel paintings under low light in museums, that is usually for the protection of the old paper surfaces rather than for the pastel medium itself.

  • How are pastel paintings different to acrylic and oil paintings?

Pastel works are traditionally framed for protection under glass because they have what is termed an unstable surface ie., the surface can be easily disturbed, just like a charcoal or conte drawing. An acrylic or oil painting is usually on a more stable surface like canvas or board, and after sealing with varnish can be displayed with no glass. There is no difference in the quality of a pastel work to the quality of work in another medium by an accomplished artist. The difference is in the display and care of the work.

  • How do I care for an unframed pastel work that I purchase?

Storing a pastel work unframed requires that you leave it protected and lying flat somewhere. Hopefully when you purchased the unframed work it came with a piece of glassine paper large enough to cover the surface of the work. Glassine paper is specially made to not disturb the surface of pastel or charcoal and is likely to not move the pastel if rubbed up against the pastel. Regular paper, cling wrap, baking paper etc all attract the pastel particles and draw them from the work, as well as not being able to protect the work if coming in to contact with the pastel. Most professional pastel artists will display their unframed works in matted and shrink-wrapped packages which enable the purchaser to carry and store at home worry free until the time for framing. General care includes not bumping the work; not placing heavy items on the face of the work; laying them flat under a bed or on top of objects in a wide drawer etc. If you have received your pastel in a postage tube rather than a flat package, generally you will take that straight to the framer and not unwrap the pastel yourself. It will have been rolled carefully with a piece of glassine over the surface and the less handling the better.

  • How do I have my pastel work framed?

A professional framer will be able to advise you on what is entailed in framing a pastel work. The pastel needs to be kept off the face of the glass and this is done with a matt (like a hard acid free cardboard of colour around the work) or a “spacer” behind either the matt or the frame itself. It is up to you to use a matt or not as this is purely aesthetic preference. The spacer not only keeps the surface of the work off the glass, but also catches any stray bits of falling pastel so they remain unseen. Glass choices will be plain through to museum glass and IV protection glass etc – but do not choose non-reflective glass. This type of glass can interfere with the viewer seeing detail in the work. Do not frame pastels under Perspex as this pulls the pastel off the paper like a magnet over time – it does the same with charcoal and conte. Your framer should use acid free backing and tape.

  • How do I care for my framed pastel work?

As with any of your precious art works, hang them for your enjoyment out of direct sunlight. When cleaning the glass, do not spray the glass cleaner directly on to the glass (wet cleaner can drip under the frame and wet it) but spray onto the rag or paper towel and then clean. If you need to transport your art work, lie it flat in the car (not upside down) and covered with bubble wrap or thick blankets/rugs; or transport in a sturdy box. Having glass, the frame will be more heavy than other canvas works, so the hanging system on your wall should be secure.

  • How do I buy my painting?

Either contact our treasurer directly via email 

Or on the individual painting details page

  • How does my painting get delivered to my address?

You will be contacted by the artist directly to organise all shipping details

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Last updated 1/10/20