This is the seventh painting in my "Fairy Wrens of Australia" series. It features a striking male Red-Backed Fairy Wren (Malurus Melanocephalus)on a wire fence. These delightful little birds are the smallest of the fairy wrens and are found near rivers and coastal areas along the northern and eastern coastlines from the Kimberley Region in the northwest to the Hunter Region in New South Wales. Two subspecies are recognised both with beautiful glossy black feathers, the Melanocephalus of Eastern Australia has a longer tail and a more orange scarlet back whereas the Cruentatus from Northern Australia has a shorter tail and a more red back. The two regions overlap with an area of crossbreeding between the two sub species. Artist quality Pastel Pencils and Panpastels (soft pastels) on Clairefontaine Pastelmat. Reference photo by Paul Balfe. Size is 17.5 x 25cm. Framed and ready to hang.
Your new pastel painting is a hand-painted work of fine art. I use the best archival materials for its creation. If properly taken care of, your portrait will last for many lifetimes. Pastel is one of the most permanent art mediums in existence. Many pastels painted over 200 years ago are still as bright and fresh as the day they were created.
The artist’s pigments in my pastels are the same as those used in fine oil paints. The only difference is that with pastel the pigments are not mixed with a liquid binder which may degrade over time. The pure, bright hues will not change or yellow.
The surface I use for my pastel paintings is Clairefontaine Pastelmat, it is a premium archival surface made of thick card and a specially designed cellulose fibre top that provides a velvety finish that grabs the pastel to the surface.
Your pastel painting may shed a few particles of pigment when new. This is normal and will not damage the image. The surface will become more solid with time and shedding will stop. Please do not attempt to rub or brush away fallen particles, as you may mar the surface of your painting. Lightly shake them off and store your unframed painting flat in its provided case until you take it to your framer.
Framing: You will receive your painting in a custom-made protective case or already framed for your convenience. This case is fine for short-term storage, but to protect and preserve your portrait while it is on display, you should have it professionally framed behind glass. Please choose your framer carefully. Discount framers may charge less, but they often save money and cut corners by using non-archival, non-acid-free framing materials. These materials may harm your portrait. It’s worth choosing the best quality framing materials so that your family can enjoy your portrait for many years to come.
What to tell your framer
You want acid-free, archival framing materials. The backing board and mats, if any, should be museum quality. 100% cotton rag board and/or acid-free foamcore is best. Cheap mat board or brown cardboard backings will stain and yellow your portrait within a few years.
Do not spray any sort of fixative or coating on your portrait in the framing process or allow your framer to do so. Careful handling is a must. Do not touch the painted surface. Putting fingers or other items on top of the portrait or allowing it to be rubbed or flexed will damage the surface. Keep it flat, supported from underneath and facing upwards to protect the pastel surface.
Choose a framer who is experienced in working with fine art pastels. A framer who works mostly with posters and printed reproductions or oil paintings may not realize that pastels take special handling. Do not risk the welfare of your painting in the hands of an inexperienced framer.
Do not use Plexiglas™ or non-glare glass to frame your portrait. Plexiglas™ holds a static charge that may pull pastel particles from the paper and in time create a “ghost” image on the underside of the glass. This will probably not seriously harm your portrait, but it will obscure your view of it! Non-glare glass makes your portrait appear blurry and dull in color, and it is best avoided.
One good approach for framing your pastel is to use a reversed double mat, with the larger window underneath. This creates a gap behind the mat where any fallen particles will be invisible. Another is to use a spacer strip between the glass and the painting so that no mat is necessary.
Hanging your pastel:
Choose a dry place indoors out of direct sunlight. Sunlight, even filtered through a window, is the enemy of all fine artwork. It degrades paper and canvas and may fade pigments. Dampness may damage paper and even allow mould to grow on paintings. Outside walls, basement walls and stone or concrete walls may transmit dampness, so avoid hanging art on them. An interior wall without nearby windows is ideal. Bedrooms, sitting rooms and hallways are often the best places for fine artworks. Bathrooms and kitchens may have very damp air, so please avoid hanging your fine artworks near showers, tubs and stoves.