View Full Version : Client instructions on receiving pastel painting

05-18-2005, 03:58 PM
I hope this isn't a silly question, but I am about to ship out a pastel painting unframed. :eek: For over a year I have sent out paintings framed. This client wants it unframed. (can you hear my knees knocking!!). I have done lots of searching through the forums and found some great advice about packing unframed pastel paintings. So am slightly confident on the packaging. Several people mention putting instructions in the parcel for the client on how to handle the painting before framing. I am usless with wording and wondered how you all word your instructions without scarring the life out of the client about smudgeing the painting etc!!! :p ?

05-18-2005, 04:02 PM
Hah! I know just what you mean! I haven't had any trouble either in sending or receiving unframed pastels, but then I kinda understand the medium and know what to do with it. You might as Dawn...aka DarkShades (?)...she was a big help when I needed to draft something similar. She sells pastels that way all the time with great success.

Laura Shelley
05-19-2005, 01:21 AM
I deliver all my portrait commissions unframed, so I wrote up a two-page instruction sheet on "Care of Pastel Paintings". It'll be a bit shorter if I leave out the list of local framers, so I'll just post the whole thing here. Feel free to adapt this to your own use--we've all got to work together to promote and protect pastels. :)

Care of Your Pastel Portrait

Your new pastel portrait is a hand-painted work of fine art. I use the best archival materials for its creation. If properly taken care of, your portrait will last for many lifetimes. Pastel is one of the most permanent art mediums in existence. Many pastels painted over 200 years ago are still as bright and fresh as the day they were created.

The artist’s pigments in my pastels are the same as those used in fine oil paints. The only difference is that with pastel the pigments are not mixed with a liquid binder which may degrade over time. The pure, bright hues will not change or yellow. I make many of my own pastels by hand so that I can mix custom colors not available in manufactured pastel sets.

The 100% rag board or sanded paper support for my pastel paintings is made of the same natural fibers as artist’s canvas and will last as long or longer.

Your pastel portrait may shed a few particles of pigment when new. This is normal and will not damage the image. The surface will become more solid with time and shedding will stop. Please do not attempt to rub or brush away fallen particles, as you may mar the surface of your portrait. Lightly shake them off and store your unframed portrait flat in its case until you take it to your framer.

Framing: You will receive your portrait in a custom-made protective case. This case is fine for short-term storage, but to protect and preserve your portrait while it is on display, you should have it professionally framed behind glass. Please choose your framer carefully. Discount framers may charge less, but they often save money and cut corners by using non-archival, non-acid-free framing materials. These materials may harm your portrait. It’s worth choosing the best quality framing materials so that your family can enjoy your portrait for many years to come.

What to tell your framer

You want acid-free, archival framing materials. The backing board and mats, if any, should be museum quality. 100% rag board and acid-free foamcore is best. Cheap mat board or brown cardboard backings will stain and yellow your portrait within a few years.

Do not spray any sort of fixative or coating on your portrait in the framing process or allow your framer to do so. Your portrait has already been fixed with an archival spray. Further coating or fixing may change the colors in your portrait, damage the paper or dislodge the pastel particles from the surface. Careful handling is a must. Do not touch the painted surface. Putting fingers or other items on top of the portrait or allowing it to be rubbed or flexed will damage the surface. Keep it flat, supported from underneath and facing upwards to protect the pastel surface.

Choose a framer who is experienced in working with fine art pastels. A framer who works mostly with posters and printed reproductions or oil paintings may not realize that pastels take special handling. Do not risk the welfare of your portrait in the hands of an inexperienced framer.

Do not use Plexiglas™ or non-glare glass to frame your portrait. Plexiglas™ holds a static charge that may pull pastel particles from the paper and in time create a “ghost” image on the underside of the glass. This will probably not seriously harm your portrait, but it will obscure your view of it! Non-glare glass makes your portrait appear blurry and dull in color, and it is best avoided.

One good approach for framing your pastel is to use a reversed double mat, with the larger window underneath. This creates a gap behind the mat where any fallen particles will be invisible. Another is to use a spacer strip between the glass and the painting so that no mat is necessary.

Hanging your pastel:

Choose a dry place indoors out of direct sunlight. Sunlight, even filtered through a window, is the enemy of all fine artwork. It degrades paper and canvas and may fade pigments. Dampness may damage paper and even allow mold to grow on paintings. Outside walls, basement walls and stone or concrete walls may transmit dampness, so avoid hanging art on them. An interior wall without nearby windows is ideal. Bedrooms, sitting rooms and hallways are often the best places for fine artworks. Bathrooms and kitchens may have very damp air, so please avoid hanging your fine artworks near showers, tubs and stoves.

05-19-2005, 05:52 AM
Thank you Khadres and Laura, you have been a great help.

Laura, many thanks for sharing with us your info sheet. I have copied it and adapted it to my own use. Your a star :clap:


aspiring artist
03-14-2015, 01:58 PM
Thank you for this write-up, Laura!

For those who do not want to risk damage to their completed pastel paintings by sending them to the client unframed, I have a suggestion.
(My experience with pastel portraits given to clients unframed resulted in curious fingers smearing a mouth and smudging an eye ~ believe me: it's no fun to have to correct this kind of "accident" for a client.)
After these unfortunate experiences, I now deliver the finished pastel portrait directly to the framer of my choice. I let the client know beforehand that I trust my framer's expertise. The client is free to take the portrait to their own framer, if desired, after picking it up from my framer. In every instance, the client has allowed my framer to frame the portrait.

An alternate suggestion is one that an artist friend of mine uses: she has the pastel portrait framed very simply with a narrow metallic frame (under glass), and sends her client the artwork this way. If the client wishes to reframe the painting later on, it's up to them to make that arrangement.

One last suggestion: My excellent local framer will take my pastel paintings (portraits or still life) and make a "sandwich" of the artwork with museum glass on top and archival board on back - then she uses archival artist's tape to firmly tape all three pieces together which seals the artwork safely. At this stage, it could then be sent to the client after packing it well with bubble wrap, etc.

Hope my suggestions are helpful.

03-14-2015, 07:10 PM
I can see "Do not touch the front of this painting" should be added to the foam core sandwich when I ship paintings. Ack ack. Maybe it's more common with portraits. I haven't had complaints about it with landscapes, cats or florals. Even though the cats look so pettable.

aspiring artist
03-18-2015, 12:37 PM
Excellent idea, Rob!
"PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH PAINTING!" in big, bold letters.

03-18-2015, 12:57 PM
This is very generous of you Laura to include your write-up!!