How to protect your gouache paintings

Gouache is a popular medium among artists due to its vibrant colors and versatility in application. However, like any medium, it will fade over time if not correctly cared for. Protecting your gouache paintings is crucial to ensure they maintain their beauty and value for years to come.

In this article, we will look at some of the things that can cause gouache to fade and explore ways that you can protect your work from decay. Taking the necessary precautions ensures that your artwork stays vibrant and beautiful for years.

Table of Contents

What is gouache?

Gouache is a water-based paint combining pigments, water, and a binding agent. It has a matte finish and is known for its rich, opaque colors. While painters can use it similarly to watercolor, it has a more concentrated pigment and can be applied in a thicker layer, making it ideal for creating bold, vibrant paintings.

Unfortunately, the very qualities that make gouache so appealing can also contribute to its fading over time. Light exposure, humidity, and temperature changes can all affect the stability and longevity of gouache paintings, causing the colors to fade and the details to become less distinct. The loss of vibrancy in a gouache painting can disappoint the artist and owner and impact the artwork’s value.

Light exposure contribute to gouache fading.

Light exposure can contribute to gouache fading over time. Gouache, like any paint, is sensitive to light. Prolonged exposure to sunlight (especially direct sunlight) can cause the pigments to fade and the colors to become less vibrant. This is particularly true for bright, light-sensitive colors such as pinks and purples.

It is essential to keep this in mind when storing and displaying your gouache paintings. In the next section, we will discuss various methods for protecting your gouache paintings and how they can help prevent fading.

How to protect your gouache paintings

Several ways to protect your gouache paintings and prevent fading over time. These include:

Framing under UV-protective glass:

UV light significantly contributes to fading, so using UV-protective glass when framing your gouache paintings can help protect them from light damage. UV-protective glass filters out harmful UV rays and can significantly reduce fading caused by light exposure.

Protect your gouache painting
Adding an UV protective glass in the frame

Avoiding exposure to direct sunlight:

Direct sunlight can cause significant fading in gouache paintings, so it is essential to avoid exposing them to direct sunlight as much as possible. If you must display your paintings in a sunny area, try to rotate them periodically to minimize light exposure.

Applying a protective varnish:

Another method for protecting your gouache paintings and preventing fading is UV protective varnish. UV protective varnishes are clear, water-based coatings that can be applied over the surface of a painting to protect it from UV light. They are typically applied once the painting is completely dry and can be used on various surfaces, including canvas, paper, and wood.

UV protective varnishes work by creating a protective barrier over the surface of the painting that filters out harmful UV rays. They are particularly effective at preventing fading caused by light exposure and can also help protect against moisture and other environmental factors.

My favorite UV varnish is a spray, so you don’t risk damaging the surface of your gouache painting with a brush. Apply two or three thin layers of varnish, allowing each layer to dry between applications. When the varnish is completely dry, your painting will be protected from UV light, moisture damage, and other environmental factors.

Please note that varnishes may alter the appearance of the gouache, so it is crucial to test a small area first to ensure that you are happy with the result.

These simple steps can help protect your gouache paintings and ensure their longevity. In addition to preserving the beauty and value of your artwork, protecting your paintings can also help preserve the time and effort you put into creating them.


In conclusion, taking precautions to protect your gouache paintings is crucial to ensure their stability and longevity. By framing under UV-protective glass or adding a UV varnish and avoiding exposure to direct sunlight, you can help prevent fading and preserve the vibrancy of your artwork for future generations to enjoy.

Similar Posts