Do Pastel Paintings Fade In Sunlight? (A Detailed Care Guide)

  • By: Artistic Bees
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Pastel is a beautiful medium of pure pigment that can last as long as a lifetime, but only with proper care. The beautiful colors of a pastel painting may entice you to hang it in the most sunlit places of your home, but is it the best choice? In this article, I’ll clear up all your confusion about do pastel paintings fade in sunlight and share all about properly taking care of one.

The best way to preserve any artwork for a long time is to hang it in a cool and dark place, and it’s the same for your pastel paintings. Sunlight and pastel artwork are probably not the best of pals, as even indirect sunlight can cause it to fade faster.

Now that you have a general idea about whether pastel paintings can fade in sunlight, you might want to delve deeper into the matter. In the rest of the article, I will share all about whether your vibrant and lively pastel paintings can withstand pastel paintings and where it would be best to hang them. If you are curious to find out, keep reading!


Can Pastel Paintings Withstand Sunlight?

Similar to most other fine artwork or fine furniture, pastel paintings cannot withstand sunlight. Sunlight, even when indirect and filtered through a window, is one of the greatest enemies of almost all fine artworks. It can gradually degrade the quality of paper and canvas and cause the pigments to fade.

Since most of us store pastel paintings under glass, the heat from the sun creates humidity within the frame. This can lead to moisture damage to your paintings. Pastel artwork is especially sensitive to moisture. As a result, it is strongly advised to never expose them to direct sunlight under any circumstances.

Where Should You Hang Pastel Paintings?

It’s always advised to hang your pastel paintings in a dry area indoors where there’s no access to direct sunlight. Even if there’s indirect access to sunlight or it’s filtered through a window, it can cause great harm to your artwork. It degrades the paper and canvas and even causes pigments to fade out. Dampness also damages paper and allows mold to grow on the paintings.

So I would recommend avoiding hanging your fine artwork near showers, tubs, or stoves since the air in bathrooms and kitchens may be quite moist. You should also consider not hanging art on outside walls, cellar walls, and stone or concrete walls because they might transfer moisture.

An interior wall with no windows nearby is perfect for pastel paintings. When it comes to fine artwork, bedrooms, sitting areas, and corridors should be your ideal choice.

How Long Do Pastel Paintings Last?

Pastel paintings are known for lasting a lifetime, and some of history’s most famous painters loved this medium for its lasting results. As long as the surface is properly protected and the artwork is cared for, the painting and its vibrant colors are bound to last for a long time.

Pastels are far superior to oils in that they do not break or fade with time, and each piece remains permanent. Handle your pastels with extreme caution if you want them to last. For example, Degas and Cassat’s pastels from the 1800s are still just as stunning and vibrant.

So be sure to never touch their surface and always keep them away from water to avoid damage. To provide the best possible protection, display them by framing them with glass and the best archival matting materials. They should also be displayed in a location far away from direct sunlight, high humidity, and excessive heat.

Tips For Taking Care of Your Pastel Paintings

Now you should be well aware of how damaging sunlight can be to your precious pastel paintings. To protect them from acquiring any sort of damage, you need to learn exactly how you should take care of the paintings properly. The following tips should be helpful in keeping your pastel paintings as beautiful as ever:

1. Make Sure To Never Touch The Surface

Pastel is one of the most fragile and delicate painting mediums out there. So even if you use a fixative spray to keep the paint from smearing during the handling process, it might still get smudged. If you fail to handle the artwork properly, the color and details may get lost, and the painting might even get some form of damage.

Your pastel painting should have edges that don’t have any pastel on them. If there is a different color of the paper or your piece has a white backdrop, you might notice a pencil mark where the edge of your artwork falls. Always hold it by the edges and avoid touching the pastels as much as possible.

2. Make Sure To Get An Experienced Framer

It is strongly suggested that you get a professional framer who is familiar with the whole pastel framing process. A farmer who mostly works with oil paintings, posters, or printed reproductions might not have enough knowledge about handling pastel paintings.

Pastel painting is very much different from other forms of artwork and requires adequate expertise for proper framing. If you don’t want to risk the welfare of your paintings, make sure to get help from a professional.

3. Get Acid-free, Archival Framing Materials

I recommend mounting and matting pastel paintings with either acid-free or rag mat museum boards. Although using acid-free boards might cost you a few extra pennies, it is more than worth it.

Acid-free boards prevent acidic damage and yellowing that’s common with other boards. Getting brown cardboard backings or cheap mat boards might yellow your paintings a few years down the line. So it’s always best to go for acid-free and archival framing materials.

4. Never Place Your Artwork In Direct Sunlight

As we have already covered, pastel artworks cannot withstand sunlight. Even indirect sunlight is an enemy to your pastels. If you place the paintings in a place where they receive any form of sunlight, it may cause them to fade just as much faster.

No matter if you used archival quality professional art supplies to protect your pastel paintings, even such materials can fade when exposed to harsh sunlight regularly. So choose a wall that has little to no access to sunlight if you want your pastel paintings to last a lifetime.

5. Make Sure Your Framer Doesn’t Spray Any Fixative

Remember to never spray any form of fixative or coating on your pastel paintings during the framing process and prevent your framer from doing the same. Fixings are never good for such artworks, as they may change the colors of your pastels.

Fixings can even damage the paper or dislodge pastel particles from it. If your framer has the proper knowledge, they should know how to frame the pastel paintings properly.

6. Frames Should Use Real Glass

I recommend using simple strength glass for framing your pastel paintings. It’s best to avoid any non-glare glass or Plexiglas when framing your pastel artwork. These types of glasses, especially Plexiglas, hold a static charge, and this can pull the pastel particles away from the paper.

With time, this can create a ghost image on the underside of the glass. While this may not exactly harm the painting, it will surely obscure your perfect view of the painting. Non-glare glass can deaden your paintings and make them seem dull in color and slightly blurry. So it is best to avoid glass like this.



When pastel paintings are properly stored, they last for lifetimes and more. But if you are new to handling such paintings, you might be curious to find out do pastel paintings fade in sunlight. In this article, we have found out why sunlight causes pastels to fade so easily.

I hope the article was helpful for you. Thanks for reading up till now.

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