View Full Version : Pastels "setting up" over time?

12-23-2013, 10:59 PM
Everyone knows how paintings in other mediums "set up" or "finalize" after they have been painted and "dry", like in oil and watercolor. There is a color shift and many other effects like sinking, transparency, etc- not just the drying. Oil paintings continue to look different for a couple of weeks IMO. Watercolors also change for a few days as they fully dry and the paper reverts to its shape.

There is also the effect of the eye seeing more and or different aspects of the painting as it is viewed over time.

My question is: do you think pastel paintings "set up", or shift like non wet media? I ask because while I can do a pencil drawing, even colored pencils, and there seems to be no "set up", no "shift".

With Pastel paintings I definitely see a set up, a change beyond the traditional reviewing over time. I can't explain it but I do see it, or do I?

12-24-2013, 01:59 AM
Pastels normally would not shift colour over time, unlike the wet media. Oil and acrylics darken when they dry, while watercolours lighten when dry, but pastels being a dry media should not shift colour UNLESS they are not lightfast, meaning, sensitive to light.
There are student-grade brand of pastels that are not lightfast, hence would normally change colour over time when exposed to light. One indication of a student-grade pastel is if they are unbelievably cheap, they must be student-quality. I always buy artist quality brands which offer lightfast colours like Unisons, Rembrandts, Schminke, Sennelier or pastel pencils from Derwent, Faber Castell, Stabilo etc. You don't want your grandchildren to think that you saw the purples & violets as cool greys.
That's my 2 öre(pronounced uh-re) worth of opinion :)

12-24-2013, 07:02 AM
I agree with Anoop. I've not seen any visible changes (unless it is the fading of a pigment which is not lightfast). And I usually see things other people don't. That is, I notice very small changes.

But, you may be right, as it depends a lot on the materials you use. If you paint on a paper that doesn't hold pigments well, there will be a loss of pigments over time as they fall off -- for example. And the aforementioned fading of some pigments. Or if the painting is framed against glass (or stored between something so there's a pressure on it) the "bloom" of the pigments may flatten a bit and sparkle just a tiny bit less. But it is a very minor change, nothing compared with how oils behave, with saponification and all that.

Humidity might play a role too, depending on the climate where you live.

12-24-2013, 10:12 AM
I recently unframed a large pastel I did 10 years ago. I wanted to make some fairly significant changes to it. I am pleased to say that working on it was just like I'd only taken a short coffee break. The pastel surface doesn't "close" in the way oil does.

12-24-2013, 10:31 AM
Not sure what you are seeing. I can't say that I ever have - aside from the possibility of pastel loss from particles falling off. That's why many pastel artists knock off access pastel dust as they work - or burnish the pastel dust into the paper. It could, of course, be a change of light from wherever you are working to wherever you are viewing the finished work - and if it is framed under glass which would change it's appearance.


12-25-2013, 02:43 AM
I think some "settling" occurs within the layers on the paper, or something. Please try to observe it too! I will say I usually don't use sand surfaces, but I notice it on any surface. It really could be loss of pastel, but I tap tap very well, often fix too... ( I am not talking about any fix related effects...)

12-26-2013, 11:00 AM
This is the first I've heard of any settling effect - though I can see how moisture could have a lot to do with it. In a moist climate the painting could absorb water from the air, particles of pigment swell, light colors become a little more translucent and so the whole thing darken a bit like when fixative's added.

But this would not be a permanent effect if it's absorbing moisture from the air. Move the painting to a dry climate and it'd dry out again. I have read threads here about using steam to fix pastels more firmly to the surface so your settling may be something like that - but not from steam, just from humidity, a subtler effect.

12-27-2013, 02:50 PM
I once thought I saw a change in the color but when I got up really close I realized that some of the dust had adhered to the glass and it created a dulling effect. I took it apart and cleaned the glass and it looked good as new. I usually whack my paintings too before framing so don't know why this one let loose, perhaps it was too heavily coated or the glass created a static charge or something. But I've never seen a change in the pastel paintings I have stored in a box with glassine for years. So perhaps it is as the other's have suggested... it's student grade or too much dust falling off and perhaps onto another area.

12-27-2013, 02:54 PM
Interesting about the static charge that crazywoman mentions. I wonder perhaps that's the reason they use museum-grade glass in some artwork? (besides the fact that museum-grade glass prevents glare)

12-27-2013, 09:43 PM
I think some pastel dust or particles almost always migrates to the glass when a work is framed for some time. I can't recall taking a pastel out of it's frame and not having some pastel on the glass. The amount is usually very minor and not noticeable while the painting is in the frame. Using acrylic is another matter - static can definitely be a problem when using it.

Generally speaking, I would say that all glass has no real static problem. I don't think museum glass is any different or better in that regard, though I could be wrong. I don't actually frame that many paintings, so I could be completely wrong!