Julie Prichardtutorials

A Lesson in Lightfastness

Julie Prichardtutorials
Early 2013; San Diego, CA

Early 2013; San Diego, CA

For my daughter's birthday in 2013, my husband and I made a few miniature-golf "holes" out of plywood so that the girls could hit a round at the party. They were super cool...with multiple PVC pipes in the back so that each ball would roll out of the "house" (in this case) in a different direction onto our putting green. It was super fun and the kids loved it. I want to show you how the "Smurf House" pictured above looks today:

September 9, 2014

September 9, 2014

Compare the two photos... and I will tell you a little about what happened here. The plywood base of each cut-out we made was prepped and sanded with gesso. I then painted each cut-out using craft paint. Some Martha Stewart, some Delta, some Folk Art... all readily available at the craft store. The cut-outs have been stored under an overhang, stacked on the side of my house. Since homes are close together in the city of San Diego, there is very little space between my neighbor and I... these cut outs receive about two hours of afternoon sun daily. That's it. Look at how much the house pictured above has faded. This could easily happen to art on your walls..

The top photo is straight out of the camera, with no color enhancement. Now..some of you more astute readers may think that the first photo has been adjusted for saturation. I assure you it has not. The vignetting is from my camera lens. We are dry as a bone here in San Diego too...so that house has not been exposed to water damage.

So what to do?? 

Making Art: Understand the lightfastness of the paint you choose to work with. Paint has a lightfastness rating associated with it. The lightfastness scale in the US varies from 1 to 5, with paints falling in the 1 & 2 range as most stable to light. Some UV varnish products will help reduce the effects of UV rays on your paint (reduce not eliminate). 

Buying Art: If you're spending your hard earned money on a  painting, I don't think you would want to risk it looking like the second photo above. Inquire with the artist and know what you are buying.

There are many practical applications for craft paint. Don't pitch it! I give craft paint to my daughter for various projects, and I use it when painting wooden craft things on holidays for example. I don't, however, use it in any of my fine art...or anything that I sell. The lightfastness quality of higher end paint is just one of many reasons why I use it.. How about you? Join the conversation on Facebook.