Some thoughts by Jane Catherine, CZT in North Carolina
(Janet condensed version for ya)
Lightfastness (fadage)— Notes on Coloring
I want to be clear that lightfastness is NOT an issue in the original Zentangle process taught by Rick, Maria (co-founders of Zentangle®Art Method). The Sukura micron pen their suggest to use on a tile does not fade. As a CZT, we teach everyone the basic Zentangle art method. It’s only when you can’t resist coloring (like me!) that lightfastness can come into play.
If you send a Zentangle — or an original Zentangle Inspired Art (ZIA) piece to someone, they are likely to put it on display somewhere. An original Zentangle tile will be lightfast, but as soon as you add colors, you’re into the realm of color pigments, inks, and dyes, some of which fade over time, especially when exposed to sunlight.
If you’ve added color and then you give away or sell your work, you need to decide whether you care about lightfastness or not. If you use watercolors — for example — that are lightfast.
You can try it out for yourself, especially if you love a particular color medium — just tape a few samples to a sunny window and watch what happens over the days, weeks, and months.
Here is information for the most popular color implements in the Zentangle and ZIA worlds: watercolor, colored pencils, and markers.
Most artist quality watercolors are lightfast, that is, the pigments will not fade or change color when exposed to light. In artist quality watercolors, the lightfastness rating is given right on the tube.
Now you can choose for yourself according to the ratings on the tubes. If you can’t find the lightfastness rating easily on the product or on the manufacturer’s website.
You also need to be careful with watercolor pencils, which may or may not be lightfast. Some brands have the lightfastness rating printed right on the pencils, like the Albrecht Dürer line. Others are less careful. Some people don’t even trust the labels on the pencils and do their own testing.
Colored pencils are extremely risky to lightfastness. The highest quality DO have lightfastness ratings on them (they can be pricey), and some manufacturers at the high end are putting an emphasis on lightfastness because there are more and more artists who make and sell gorgeous original art works using colored pencils.
Lisa from Lachri Fine Art has several videos about this on her Youtube channel. She’s got the story on all things colored pencil!
Some colored pencils have the lightfastness ratings right on the pencil itself, like the Polychromos line. Other manufacturers have stated that nobody in their target markets cares about lightfastness, so they are not going to raise the price for a feature no one wants.
Most markers, even artist quality markers, are not meant to be lightfast because they came out of the world of illustration and animation where it’s the prints that need to last.
There are pigment-based lightfast markers, such as the Pitt Artist Brush Pens, which have the lightfastness ratings right on the pens. But much as I love the Pitt colors, I couldn’t get the blended watercolorish effects I wanted. I splurged on Copic Sketch Markers which blend beautifully and let me do all kinds of watercolorish things, but they are not meant to be lightfast.
Using Copics means that my originals can’t go up on somebody’s wall for 100 years or last forever in the World Zentangle Museum. The general rule is that you can’t count on lightfastness in the world of markers. They weren’t designed for “fine art” originals, but for designers and illustrators.
The manufacturer of the markers you like will make it clear on their website if they have designed them to be lightfast. And be aware that other marker terms like “permanent” may or may not mean lightfast. If you love to color your originals and send them to people, you might want to try the Pitt Artist Pens and see if they work for you.
The Bottom Line
- If you don’t need your originals to be lightfast, you don’t have to worry about this anyway.
- If you sell prints or reproductions, you might want to make sure they use lightfast pigment inks on archival paper.
- If you need your originals to be lightfast and you use watercolor, you may want to invest in artist quality paints that have high lightfastness ratings.
- If you need your originals to be lightfast and you use colored pencils, you’ll have to be very selective.
- If you love markers (like I do), you might want to emphasize archival prints or copies, unless it’s okay with you and the recipient that the colors might not last if displayed on a wall in the house.
Hope this helps,
Jane Catherine in North Carolina