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  • Gavin O'Donoghue

Materials, how to prevent you paint from fading.

Updated: Nov 7, 2023






The color of Vincent van Gogh's famous Sunflowers is slowly changing over time because of the mixture of pigments used by the Dutch master in his painting. Evidence for the process now comes from a detailed spectroscopic investigation of the Sunflowers version at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Scientists made X-rays and discovered that Van Gogh's sunflowers are wilting. The golden yellow petals are fading to an olive-brown hue.


The scientists examined a Sunflowers painting, dating back to 1889, to determine whether van Gogh had used different types of chrome yellow. He produced three versions of the painting: one on display at the National Gallery in London, one at the Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art in Tokyo, and one at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Two small paint samples, measuring less than 1 millimeter each, were taken from the painting in Amsterdam and examined using DESY's X-ray source PETRA III. "The analysis shows that the orange-yellow hues mainly contain the lightfast version of chrome yellow, whereas the light-sensitive type is mainly found in the pale yellow areas," reports co-author Gerald Falkenberg, who is in charge of DESY's beamline P06, where the X-ray diffraction measurements were carried out.

The team examined the chemical state of the paint samples. When light-sensitive chrome yellow darkens, the chromium is reduced from its highest oxidation state, CrVI, to CrIII. The scientists could detect a relative proportion of 35 percent CrIII on the surface of the paint. "At least at the two sites from which the paint samples were taken, a colour change has occurred in the Sunflowers due to the reduction of chrome yellow," says Monico. This suggests that the Sunflowers may originally have looked different from what we see today.

With this in mind, should we take lightfastness more seriously when selecting paint colors?






paint ratings


Looking to create a masterpiece with your oil paintings? One crucial factor to consider is the lightfastness of your chosen oil paint. While it's common knowledge that exposure to light can cause colors to fade over time, not all artist paints are created equal when it comes to their ability to withstand fading. That's why paint ratings and understanding the ASTM rating system are essential for any artist seeking longevity in their artwork. In this article, we'll dive into the world of oil paint ratings, explore the concept of lightfastness, and provide you with valuable tips on how to prevent your precious creations from losing their vibrant hues over time. So grab your brushes, and let's get started!


When it comes to choosing the right oil paint for your artwork, understanding paint ratings is crucial. Paint ratings provide valuable information about a paint's lightfastness, which refers to its ability to resist fading when exposed to light over time.


The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed a standardized rating system that measures the lightfastness of art materials, including oil paints. This system assigns a numerical rating ranging from I (excellent) to V (poor).


Higher-rated paints are more resistant to fading, ensuring your artwork retains its vibrant colors and visual impact for years to come. It's important to note that these ratings apply specifically to individual pigments rather than paint brands as a whole.


Keep in mind that while higher-rated paints may offer better lightfastness, they can be more expensive due to the use of high-quality pigments. However, investing in these higher-rated paints can save you from disappointment down the road when your masterpiece begins losing its original brilliance.


Before purchasing oil paints, take some time to research their ASTM ratings and compare them with other options available. Additionally, consider factors such as the specific hues you'll be using and how they might interact with each other over time.


By paying attention to paint ratings and selecting those with higher lightfastness levels, you can ensure that your artwork remains true-to-color even after decades of display or exposure. So, before embarking on your next artistic endeavor, make sure you're armed with this knowledge so your creations stand the test of time!





lightfastness of oil paint


When it comes to oil painting, the longevity of your artwork is crucial. No one wants their masterpiece to fade over time and lose its vibrancy. That's where the concept of lightfastness comes into play.


Lightfastness refers to how resistant a paint pigment is to fading when exposed to light. It is an important consideration for artists who want their work to stand the test of time. Paints that have poor lightfastness will fade or change color over time, which can be disappointing for both the artist and those who appreciate their art.


To determine the lightfastness of oil paints, artists often rely on ratings provided by manufacturers or independent testing organizations like ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). These ratings range from excellent (I) to very poor (IV), indicating how well a pigment retains its color under various lighting conditions.


Artists should look for paints with higher lightfastness ratings if they want their paintings to last longer without fading. This becomes especially important if you plan on displaying your artwork in spaces that receive direct sunlight or intense artificial lighting.


By using oil paints with high lightfastness ratings, you can ensure that your artwork remains vibrant and true-to-color even after years of display. So before starting your next project, take some time to research and select art materials with good lightfastness properties - it's an investment in preserving the beauty and integrity of your artistic creations.


Prevent painting from fading.


Preventing your oil paintings from fading is crucial if you want to preserve their beauty and integrity for years. Fading can occur due to various factors, such as exposure to light and environmental conditions. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of fading and ensure the longevity of your artwork.


One crucial factor to consider is the lightfastness rating of the oil paints you use.


When purchasing oil paints, look for those with high ASTM ratings, as they are more likely to resist fading. Additionally, consider using professional-grade art materials that have been tested for their lightfastness.


Another way to prevent painting from fading is by properly framing and displaying your artwork. Choose frames that offer UV protection or opt for museum-quality glass or acrylic glazing that filters out harmful UV rays.


Additionally, avoid hanging your paintings in direct sunlight or areas with excessive heat or humidity. These conditions can accelerate the deterioration process and cause colors to fade faster.


Regular cleaning and maintenance of your paintings are also essential in preventing fading. Dusting them gently with a soft brush or cloth will help remove any dirt particles that could potentially affect the longevity of the artwork.


By taking these preventive steps, you can ensure that your oil paintings remain vibrant and true to life for many years, allowing future generations to appreciate their beauty just as much as you do today!

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