You have joined an organization that works hard to make artists aware of the issue of lightfastness. No matter what your artistic goals may be, it is devastating to think that all or parts of your artwork could disappear. And that is a real danger when artwork is exposed to light, particularly the UV rays in sunlight. Certain pigments may fade, change hue, or even disappear completely. The least stable colors are hot pinks, purples, blues, reds and oranges, while browns, grays, and other neutrals generally remain unchanged. It will be worth your time to learn more about the lightfastness of the colored pencil products you use.
- Lightfastness Standard – D6901
- Press Release Announcing Lightfastness Standard
- Lightfastness Workbook
- Lightfastness Test Results (PDF file)
- How to Test for Lightfastness
• AVAILABLE TO CPSA MEMBERS ONLY •
Version 8 of the CPSA Lightfastness Test Results Workbook is now available as a PDF file. The workbook lists pencils tested by CPSA for lightfastness by brand, with boxes you can fill in to have your own color samples.
This version will be free to CPSA Members. To obtain your copy of the workbook, email the product research director. Please allow a few days for verification of current membership.
Since the very beginning of CPSA, our organization recognized that lightfastness was the single most important quality issue to colored pencil artists. Knowing how a medium will withstand the test of sun and time is important to every dedicated artist. Because of this, CPSA worked diligently in conjunction with the ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing Materials), colored pencil manufacturers, and art conservators to create D6901, the Standard Specification for Artists’ Colored Pencils. The standard was passed in 2003 and the Press Release for this historic event can be seen here.
D6901 uses two types of lightfast testing, a sunlight test and a xenon arc test, to simulate the effects that prolonged sun exposure will have on a colored pencil. With the results of these tests, a colored pencil can then be accurately placed into a lightfastness category. Lightfastness categories are represented as I, II, III, IV, and V with I being the best (high lightfastness) and V being the worst (low lightfastness.) Only pencils with lightfastness ratings of either I or II can be labeled as complying with the standard. For an entire line of colored pencils to be labeled as D6901 compliant, every pencil must have a lightfast rating of either I or II. Unfortunately, complying with the standard is not mandatory and there is currently only one colored pencil line that is D6901 compliant. We urge artists to contact companies directly with their concerns about quality issues such as lightfastness. Artists must make their voices heard if they want to have high quality, lightfast materials available!
For acceptance into CPSA International Exhibitions, artists are required to use only materials considered to be colored pencils by CPSA. In the past this involved individual brand and/or product specific approval. CPSA, through this definition, is now providing a more general, less brand or product specific description to help artists understand why some materials are approved while others are not.
Dry drawing materials are made of coloring agents or pigments combined with a binder of some kind and come in a wide range of forms. It is helpful to view these materials as part of a broad spectrum of drawing media. The colored pencil medium is situated near the middle of a continuum that stretches from soft pastel on one end to oil pastels and oil bars on the other end. With the proliferation of new dry media, however, it has become much more challenging to define what is, in fact, colored pencil media.
- CPSA approved colored pencil materials must come in a solid dry form.
That includes regular colored pencils, water-soluble colored pencils, and pencils where the pigment is encased in wood as well as art sticks which are solid pigment. We do not restrict how the pencils are applied and permit the use of water and other solvents.
- CPSA approved colored pencil materials cannot be brushed off.
This refers specifically to colored pencil media applied on regular paper surfaces. It does NOT refer to brushing off loose ‘crumbs’ of colored pencil but instead refers to brushing off dry pigment as is possible with soft pastels. This does NOT refer to the ability of colored pencil media to be brushed off of sanded papers and other similar surfaces.
- CPSA approved colored pencil materials must dry completely.
Due to the nature of the materials from which they are composed, oil based colored pencils dry completely while oil pastels and oil bars do not.
The appearance of the material is not the basis upon which the determination of approval is based. Some colored pencil media have wood coverings while others do not. Rather, the material must be placed within the continuum of dry drawing materials and then determine whether the above three requirements are met.