Welcome to Masterclass

Learning tools for artists

Colour Permanence

Some colours are more permanent than others, this film demonstrates how to know which colours will last and which will fade. If a Winsor & Newton colour has a lightfastness and permanence rating of AA or A, then you can be assured that the colour will not change as a result of exposure to the light and atmosphere of a gallery. All our ratings are marked on the tubes so you can see the rating easily; a B rating has only moderate lightfastness, but we do make three of these colours in our watercolour range because of the enduring appeal they have to artists. To demonstrate the impact of exposure to light on colours, we created a board of colour swatches with A and B ratings: Alizarin Crimson (B), Permanent Alizarin Crimson (A), Opera Rose (B), Permanent Rose (A) and Rose Madder Genuine (B). We masked off an area of each swatch to protect it and exposed the board to 100 hours of light, which is equal to 100 years, in our lightfastness machine at our laboratory in London. The masked area remains unchanged but the effects of 100 years of light has faded the B rated colours. If you are concerned with the longevity of your work, reach for the AA or A rated colours. If you enjoy using a historical colour such as Rose Madder Genuine, then you should just be aware of its’ fugitive nature.