Fixative for pastels?

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Fixative for pastels?

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  • How to ruin soft pastels
  • Fixative made pastels run on model

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    12-27-2011, 06:00 PM
Fixative for pastels?

I use pastels often and I have never used a fixative for them before, but sometimes people tell me I should use it to stop it smudging. Now that I am going to be trying to sell some of my artwork I am considering it even more as I would not like my drawings to get smudged in the post.

However I have heard that they can sometimes dull the picture and I was wandering, is this true?

I don't want people to revive smudged pictures, but I also don't want to ruin them.
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    12-27-2011, 10:36 PM
This is the very reason why I have all but given up on pastels. I assume these are soft pastels you are talking about?

I know Kayty is more of pastel expert than I am and she warned me and other artists in here against using fixatives for soft pastels, but I decided to try one out anyway. It was a practice piece, so I had nothing to lose. I bought a fixative spray that specified use for soft pastels and it just ruined the entire piece. It did more than just dull the drawing. It's like several layers were just pulled off the paper.

Based on my experience, fixatives ruin a pastel drawing. The smudging and special care needed to ship/frame my pastel drawings was almost equally as frustrating, so I have since put away my pastels for other mediums. Good luck with your drawings. Kayty and lilruffian seem to have mastered the art of pastels. Perhaps they can chime in here.
    12-28-2011, 01:45 AM
Had to take a few deep breaths, many memories of ruined commissions, after hours upon hours of work, destroyed by the seemingly simple act of spraying them with a fixative :O

Ok, firstly, what type of paper are you working on? A well toothed paper will hold the pastel pigment quite solidly and you'll find that they don't smudge too badly. I will occasionally spray a very thin coat of fixative in the bottom layers of my portraits to hold them a little more firmly, but never on the top few layers.

Fixatives tend to dull and tarnish a pastel painting, as Equusketch found out (told you so :P ), it tends to make the pigment bind together and look like layers of pastel have come off the paper. Not a good look, and **** near impossible to fix (I've been there... ended up mixing acrylic paint with a little sand, painting over the tarnished area, waiting for it to dry then going back over with pastel. That was the best I could do to fix it)

As for postage (and I work on velour which makes it about a thousand times more fiddly to post than standard toothed papers), I fix my work to a thick piece of plastic coated cardboard with masking tape around the edges. I then stretch a piece of baking/greaseproof paper tightly over the drawing, and secure it firmly to the backing board. Then another layer of cardboard, sealed very firmly to the backing layer. A layer of bubble wrap, and then sandwich that between two sheets of coreflute or cardboard.

The only time I've had a drawing arrive smudged from the post, was a local drawing when I thought I'd do a 'test' run to a friend and sent it with only 2 sheets of cardboard and it got bent in the post.
    12-28-2011, 10:19 AM
Foal's gotten to the point where I've pretty much given up on using soft pastels because of the hassle. They can be tough to control, especially when selling them to someone else and having to mail pastel pieces.

I've switched over to colored pencils (for colored pieces) exclusively because it is so much easier compared to dealing with bulky fixatives.
    12-28-2011, 04:22 PM
As I said, no need to deal with fixatives. Just handle them with care. I don't have any problems with them smudging now. The more you use pastels and learn to respect them, the less problem you will have :)
    12-30-2011, 01:18 PM
The paper I use is quite good quality so its doesn't smudge too bad. I won't be using fixative then, and I'll wrap up the pictures very carefully!

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