Lightfastness In Artists’ Paints Leave a comment

The lightfastness or permanence of a pigment is its resistance to change on exposure to light. This depends on the chemical nature of the pigment, its concentration, and the medium in which it is employed — oil, watercolour, acrylic.

Permanence is especially important in painting, because the length of time a pigment retains its original colour value determines the life expectancy of the work of art.

The pigment must be lightfast. Pigments must also be chemically and physically stable and must not break down or change in any way as they age So you can see that it is important to know your pigments!

As an aid to artists, our comprehensive Oil and Acrylic Colour Charts list not only the colour name, but also individual pigment lightfastness rating, transparency and opacity details for every colour.

There is now a worldwide standard for permanence. The independent ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials standard) was established and ratings from this organisation represent the most standardized classification in use for artists’ materials. ASTM classification monitors quality, permanence and health guidelines. These pigment ratings were established in 1984.

To help you identify paints that are lightfast, look for the official ASTM rating information on individual paint tube labels. You will also find full ASTM information on each brands Colour Chart.

Our stringent controls mean you can have total confidence in the permanence of every pigment used in all of our professional artist’ paints.

The lightfastness of the paint is mostly dependent on the pigment. Many craft quality paints don’t tell you which pigment is in the paint. Artist quality paint always tell you the pigment used. There are a lot of dye based pigments that will fade pretty quickly. For fine art you want to have pigment based colors with a high lightfast rating, I or II. Look for a chart from the manufacturer such as Windsor and Newton does here for their Designers’ Gouache. Some artists choose to use fugitive colors if their art is intended for reproduction only and not intended to last. The reason might be to save money or because some colors are simply not available in a permanent form.

The answer is that with craft quality paint there will be some colors that will be lightfast maybe the black and white and others that won’t. You will not be able to tell until they fade away.

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