Handling and Framing Your Pastel Artwork


Pastel is a beautiful medium with vibrant colors that can last more than a lifetime, but it is particularly important to handle and frame pastel paintings with extra care. Before you open your new pastel artwork, please read the guidelines below to make sure you keep it in its original condition.



1. Handle around the edges only. Pastel is a delicate medium and while I use a fixative spray to try and secure the pastel to the paper, it is still very capable of smudging when touched. This means that color and details can be lost and paintings can be ruined if not handled properly. Your pastel painting has edges that do not have pastel on them. This is easy to tell if there is paper of a different color and if your piece has a white background, there will be a pencil marking where the edge of the piece falls. Please always handle your piece by the edges and avoid touching the pastel at all costs.


2. Until you are ready to frame your piece, keep it stored in a safe place in the same way it was mailed. When your pastel painting arrives in the mail, it will be covered with a type of paper called Glassine. This paper resembles wax paper, but is very different and helps to protect the pastel while in transit or in storage. In addition, your piece may be in a clear, plastic sleeve or sandwiched between some foam board. I recommend keeping your piece attached to something sturdy (like the foam board), painting face up with the Glassine protective paper over it until you are ready to frame it. This keeps the piece safe from dust, hairs, and smudges until it can be properly protected with a frame.


3. Make sure your framer is very comfortable framing pastel paintings and that they will NOT spray additional fixative on the artwork. I cannot be held liable for an inexperienced framer damaging your piece. If you are in Colorado, I am happy to share recommendations for framers that I would personally trust.


4. All frames must use real glass, not acrylic or plexiglass. Pastel particles can come off of the paper if there is any type of static, so it is very important to use real glass in front of a pastel painting.


5. Unless I tell you otherwise, your pastel painting needs to be framed away from the glass. When speaking with your framer, make sure they will frame with either a mat/mount or with a spacer so the pastel painting and paper will not be directly against the glass. An experienced framer should be able to provide you with a variety of options to keep your new pastel artwork in great condition over the years.


6. Do not place your artwork in direct sunlight! Placing your artwork on a wall that receives direct sunlight during the day means it will fade at an accelerated rate. I use archival quality professional art supplies, but even these materials will fade if they are exposed to harsh sunlight day after day. Try to choose a wall that receives no sunlight or only indirect sunlight if you want your artwork to last a lifetime or longer. 


7. If you are moving or traveling with your artwork, keep it framed and store it face up for the drive. 


As always, if you ever have any questions, simply contact me here or email me at kit@kitgrayillustration.com. I am always happy to help, even if it is several years down the road.