Christmas Day is almost upon us and here’s a wee gift from you. Advisory Board member Emma Colbert shares her answer to our question about using fixative – yes or no?
Here’s her response!
“Like everything else in art, there is no right or wrong answer to this question of using fixative or not. Many pastel artists use fixative and not always for the purpose of sealing or making their pastel painting permanent. No matter how much you spray a pastel, you will never make it completely smudge-proof. But sometimes an artist might use fixative as they progress through a painting to add more tooth back to the paper. It’s a technique I’ve used in the past too.
But my answer is actually no, I don’t use any fixative. I get asked all the time how I make my pastel paintings last. However, even without using fixative, they are not going anywhere and the pigment I’ve applied will not simply fall off the paper.
My main form of protection is in the framing. A pastel requires framing behind glass. But once framed properly, my painting is protected as the only threat to it is someone literally smudging it. I use several different methods to frame, but for smaller work, I like a double mount with spacers and ideally, museum-quality glass to reduce the reflections.
The main downside to using fixative is how it darkens your colours and flattens the image. If you’re going to use it, I would recommend using a good-quality fixative that will not alter your colours even more over time. And I also suggest spraying it on your lower layers as you can bring the vibrancy and lighter values out again in your top marks.
Using the quality pastel papers that are available, I don’t see the necessity of spraying my work with anything. The surfaces available to artists these days are far superior to those in the past and are fantastic at gripping the pigment and keeping it on the paper. And, with my technique of working in thin layers and blending all the pigment into the paper in the lower layers, I never feel my pastel work is fragile or vulnerable in the end.
In these three images of my cow demo, you can see the three stages of blending while creating soft fur. Each new layer is blended or softened into the layers below leaving very little pigment sitting loosely on the surface.”
Thanks so much, Emma!
And, this wraps up our series on Using Fixative …or not. I hope they were helpful! (To read the others, simply go to our website, click on the magnifying glass icon, and write in “fixative.”)
In my online travels, I came across an informative blog post on the subject of using fixative published by Jackson’s Art in 2014. In it, the author Julie Caves does some serious testing! Check it out here.
Top Prize At The PSEC Online Show Goes To Susan Story
The Pastel Society of Eastern Canada announced the Grand Prize winner in its first online international juried exhibition, “Pixel Pastel.” Juror of awards, Daniel J. Keys, selected Susan Story’s painting Hudson Totem from the 149 accepted entries. Congratulations Susan!
The exhibition will be available online only until 15 March 2023 so make sure to have a look soon! Lots of inspiration here!!
And that’s it for now.
Wishing you and yours a very happy, relaxed, and safe Holiday!!
PS. Need a gift for your favourite pastellist (that could be YOU!)? Then give the gift of a three-day pastelling extravaganza!! What am I talking about?? Pastel Live 2023 of course!