Pastel is pure powdered pigment formed into sticks with a very small amount of binder. The quality of the pure colour particles and how these catch and refract light is what gives pastels their beautiful soft texture and richness of colour.
Pastels date back to the sixteenth century and have been used for hundreds of years by artists. Some well known users of pastels are Mengs, Copley, Manet, Reniour, Redon, Whistler, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. Dega was particularly prolific user pastel. I regularly meet people who have only recently learnt that images they have seen reproduced, (often work of Dega) are pastel paintings not oil paintings as they had thought.
Care of Pastels
Like all valuable paintings and photographs, hang pastel paintings in an area that avoids direct sunlight, extreme heat or high humidity.
When protected by glass pastel is the most permanent of all media – it never cracks, darkens or yellows. Pastels more than 200 years old, receiving proper care, are as bright and fresh as the day they were created.
In order to prevent damage, the surface of pastel painting needs to be protected from water and touch. Displaying pastel paintings framed under glass, with archival matting materials will provide excellent protection.
There is no need to feel any trepidation regarding transporting pastel paintings. I have successfully shipped framed pastel paintings all over the world. I use couriers who specialize in transporting fine art and will insure fine art.
In the process of transporting a painting a small amount of pastel particles may become dislodged from the surface. This in no way affects the quality of the painting.
If some dusting occurs to the glass during transport (very rarely) a framer can easily clean the glass and reassemble the work for you. Paintings must NOT be sprayed with any fixative. Please do not let a framer sway you.
One of the reasons pastel paintings are so attractive is the quality of the pure colour particles and how these catch and refract light.
Like many pastel artists I dislike using fixative because it destroys the refractive quality of the pastel and destroys the detail I have carefully put into the work.
Do not let a framer convince you to let them use fixative on a pastel work.
If you are framing a pastel ask the famer to use a spacer between the work and the mat board for any dust particles to fall behind the mat board if the work is heavily bumped.