It is important to me to ensure your artwork can be enjoyed for as long as possible – for this reason, I endeavour to use good quality products and employ particular methods that help make my work last. I thought it might be handy to create a page to explain why I use particular materials and to outline some of my methods.
Pastels are a soft medium and very easy to blend, making them great for creating deep and vivid colours and smooth textures. A downside to their softness is their tendency to smudge. Fixative sprays can be used to reduce the risk of smudging, but these are known to affect colour and can dull the work so I prefer not to use them.
For my pastel drawings I use Clairefontaine Pastelmat, which is a highly textured paper designed with pastels in mind. This paper is specifically created to reduce the need for fixative, as the “tooth” of the paper holds on to the pastel very well. However, I still suggest that my pastel portraits are transferred directly from their packaging to a glass-fronted frame to reduce the risk of smudging.
The pastel pencils I use have a high lightfastness rating which reduces the risk of fading, but by keeping out of direct sunlight and framing behind a UV filtering glass you can help increase the longevity of the work.
I mount my paper artwork with the hinge technique using conservation-grade acid-free tape. The artwork is only attached to the mount by small tabs of tape at the top; this is both to minimise the amount of adhesive in contact with the work and to prevent any buckling of the paper that can occur (allowing it to “breathe” – paper expands and contracts slightly as atmospheric humidity changes). My artwork is usually mounted with a backing board, which helps protect the work by providing some stiffness.
Acrylics on Canvas
When I paint on canvas I use high quality cotton canvas board, primed with several layers of gesso. Acrylic paints are generally very tough and resistant once dry, but as they are not usually framed behind glass they can be prone to picking up dust and dirt on the surface. This may, in time, seep into the paints making it difficult to remove. Because of this, I ensure my acrylic works on canvas are varnished.
I normally use a satin varnish, giving a tough wipeable surface that protects the underlying painting from dust and dirt, and also provides UV protection. I first add an isolation coat which acts as a buffer between the paint and the varnish, so if in the future the surface becomes dirty or damaged, the varnish can be removed with a solvent and re-varnished without affecting the underlying painting.
Acrylics on Paper
My acrylic paintings on paper are provided mounted using the techniques outlined above. Acrylics are generally tough but I do suggest framing behind glass to provide protection from dust, dirt, and sunlight.