You’re an artist who has just completed a beautiful soft pastel drawing. You want to make sure that it lasts for years to come, but you’re not sure if you should use fixative. You’ve heard that fixative can ruin the delicate colors and textures in a soft pastel drawing, so you’re not sure what to do.
The biggest challenge artists face when protecting their artwork is not knowing what to do. Some artists might be under the impression that they need to use fixative to protect their pastel paintings, while others might not even know what a fixative is for pastels.
Additionally, some artists might not know how to protect their artwork without using a fixative or know of alternative protection methods.
Finally, some artists might not know which method is best to protect their artwork.
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1. What is a fixative, and why would you want to avoid using it on soft pastel drawings
Fixative is a spray or liquid that is used to protect the artwork. It is applied to the painting in order to seal it and keep the colors and textures from fading or smudging.
However, because fixative alters the artwork’s surface, it can be problematic for soft pastel drawings. The fixative can dull the colors and cover up the delicate textures, so some artists choose to avoid using it on their soft pastel drawings.
There might be times when you will need to use a fixative on your pastel paintings. In this case, you will want to use a high-quality fixative.
Best fixatives for pastel drawings:
Lascaux Fine Art Fixative – Lascaux Fine Art Fixative is the most versatile fine art fixative you’ll ever find. It fixes or seals virtually everything, including pastels, pencils, and charcoal to gouache watercolor ink – no matter what type of work it’s for! LFX will not yellow over time, so your artwork stays vibrant even when displayed in high-humidity conditions as galleries do on occasion.
Sennelier Latour Spray Fixative for Pastels – Use this resin-based solution created by Sennelier to preserve your soft pastels and keep them looking new. The Latour Spray Fixative for Pastels is the most transparent matte film available that won’t yellow or move when applied heavily to a canvas surface like paper with light, constant applications recommended.
SpectraFix Spray Fixative – SpectraFix is a casein-based fixative that uses milk protein and grain alcohol to retain and protect your media while avoiding dulling or darkening colors. It’s straightforward to use, and because it’s all-natural and odor-free, you may spray your project inside while you work — no more odors, dangerous gases, or long waits outside.
2. How can you protect your soft pastel drawings without using fixative
Knowing how to protect your soft pastel drawings without a fixative is essential because it gives you more options for preserving your artwork. It also allows you to protect your artwork in a way best suited for the medium you are using.
Additionally, avoiding the use of fixative can be beneficial because it preserves the colors and textures of your artwork. This is especially important for soft pastel drawings, as the colors and textures can be quickly dulled or covered up by a fixative.
3. What are some alternative methods for protecting your artwork
Here are some alternative methods for protecting your artwork:
Using a frame
Painting frames are designed to protect paintings from dust and dirt. The glass will protect the pastel drawing from accidentally touching and smudging the pastels. The glass also helps reflect light away from the artwork, keeping it from fading.
Best frames for pastel paintings:
Blick Simplon Plein Air Frames – The Blick Simplon Plein Air Frame is a highly flexible, low-profile wood frame that can be used to display artwork, photographs, or mirrors. Choose from a selection of finishes and widths to match your requirements.
Blick Wood Gallery Frames – Blick Gallery Wood Frames are ideal when you want your artwork to speak for itself. They’re constructed of high-quality solid wood with a beautiful natural wood grain, making them perfect for taking photographs.
Blick Concerto Wood Frames – The Concerto is gracefully handcrafted and finished with closed corners, displaying a timeless beauty reminiscent of classic European frames.
Hanging your artwork in a safe place
The safest place to hang your artwork is on a wall that isn’t highly trafficked or somewhere people won’t accidentally touch it. This way, you can avoid fingerprints and smudges as much as possible.
Using a mat
A mat will ensure the pastel drawing stays in place and prevents any rips or wrinkles from forming on your painting. Matts will also prevent the pastel painting from touching the glass of the frame, which could cause smudging.
UV protection will protect your artwork from damage due to the sun by blocking harmful UV rays. This is especially important when displaying the painting next to a window with a lot of sunlight. If the piece of art is already framed, finding a glass with UV protection built-in could be highly beneficial.
Storing the pastel painting
It is essential to store pastel paintings properly to protect them from damage when you are in the painting process.
What you need to store a pastel painting
Frame – put your pastel painting in a frame if you store it for long periods.
Blanket or thick towels – Wrap the frame in a blanket or thick towel and place it somewhere safe.
Bubble wrap – Use bubble wrap if you will store the frame in a box or container.
Cardboard – Mount the painting on cardboard during the painting process. This will prevent the paper from becoming bent while drawing with pastels.
Plastic – Cover the drawing with plastic or glassine paper to protect the picture between painting sessions.
This article discussed how to protect soft pastel drawings without using a fixative. If you’re worried about the colors and textures of your artwork being dulled or covered up by a fixative, try avoiding it entirely. Instead, use one of these alternative methods that can still protect your art from damage.