View Full Version : spray fixative question

ural jones
02-28-2015, 05:38 PM
I read where you could spray the back of your paper and the spray permeates the paper without dulling the color. Has anyone tried this?

02-28-2015, 06:01 PM
I haven't tried but I also think a light spray doesn't have to dull the color. I think it depends on the paper. When I first started, I did some experiments. Drenched the paper, MT, and it puffed up. (It was taped). But it came down flat. The pastel didn't look bad. If you look in my posts, very early on, you'll see it. It was a single eye. I only sprayed half of the eye and posted it in gallery. This would be about a year ago.

ural jones
02-28-2015, 07:41 PM

02-28-2015, 08:05 PM
Ural -If you used a sanded type paper, it grabs the pastel so you don't need fixative,in that category I'd put...
Wallis, Ersta, Fisher Sennelier La Carte, Pastelmat ect.
Non Sanded papers examples MiTientes and watercolour papers probably do need fixative as there isn't a lot of tooth.
Do use a pastel specific one though, shake the can and spray it into the air to check the spray is fine and won't land in globules on your precious pastels! The spray lightly at about 12" away from the painting going back and forwards to avoid spraying just one spot.

02-28-2015, 08:13 PM
I've never heard this and I would find it unlikely that there is any pastel paper thin enough to have the fixative permeate it to actually be able to soak into pastel on the other side. And quite frankly, if it permeates and soaks into the pastel particles, then it will effect them the same way as it would if you sprayed it from the front. Or so it seems to me.

Based on a few years worth of fixative threads here on WC, I think some consensus could be made that Spectrafix is one of the favorites of pastel artists. It's affect on color and value is less than most (if not all) other brands - plus it is non-toxic. That's a big plus in my book. Otherwise a respirator is really recommended - and you should never use those other sprays indoors, in my opinion. A few other expensive brands (Lascaux is one, Sennelier's Latour is another) have also gotten recommendations over the years. Generally, the more expensive the fixative, the more likely it will work better. My personal recommendation is to spray the early layers only (if needed) but don't spray the final layer of pastel applied. A lot, of course, depends on the paper and the brands of pastel, too.


ural jones
03-01-2015, 06:50 AM
Deirdre, I have used the sanded paper and I don't like it perhaps it has to do with the mfg. might try a different brand. Thank you for your suggestions.

ural jones
03-01-2015, 07:06 AM
Don, I understand and that is what my wife remarked.
It does seem the wetness would get absorbed,
doesn't it? The Spectrafix has been suggested before.
Thanks for the help.
I thought you'd like to know- this is directly from the book, " Drawing Masterclass, A Comprehensive guide to drawing techniques".

I believe it was published in London by Quantum Books. I bought it in '04.


03-01-2015, 03:06 PM
I'd never heard of that, but you'd probably have to use more of it to let it permeate the paper enough.

On unsanded paper I usually spray fixative and I got so used to it that I took its effects on color as part of the process. I'd restate white and light passages after the fixative sometimes. In my experience, Spectrafix doesn't have much effect on color. But it's important that the misting bottle not get clogged and I don't know any way to clean a misting bottle head that's gotten clogged and turned the fine mist into a stream of spray. My small misting bottle needed replacement. The big one still works fine.

Ural, if you're not happy with your sanded paper, try different brands and try different grits. Some people are happier with a coarse grit like Wallis and others like a fine or super fine grit. It depends on what feel works best for you. Even a very fine grit can do more to hold on to the pastels. Also there are coated papers like PastelMat or Sennelier LaCarte or Colourfix Suede that have a different feel and effect. Blending is different on them and usually takes more layers before you can start blending anything.

This is why I've tried so many different papers and surfaces. They all have different effects. I only use fixative on the non sanded non coated surfaces usually.

ural jones
03-01-2015, 03:53 PM
Thank you , Robert. If I were to use a spray it would be Spectrafix. And I definitely will try some of the other surfaces you mention. I know there has to be a difference. If I use the spray pump, I think it prudent to spray water through it after use. Thanks for the heads up.

03-04-2015, 02:59 PM
i work on paper , and from time to time use a fixative to ' revive ' the tooth .
a mid-priced brand is grumbacher , and there are two types ; workable fix and final fix .
- with the workable , after spraying ,
i can still lift off some pastel with a kneaded eraser ( if necessary ) before working further .

both use solvents , so ventilation is important , and gets tricky because
i spray from 18"+ away so that the stuff kinda drifts down to the paper
rather than being pushed hard by the propellant .
= misted , not soaked .
also , a good 30 sec of shaking ( hear the marble rattling inside ? :lol: )
really stirs up the stuff so that it doesn't ' spit ' .

as far as post 7 , did they mention one could use hair spray as well ? :rolleyes:


03-15-2015, 01:07 PM
spraying on the back, never heard that one, although i tend to miss-trust a lot of what ive read on the internet about pastels. when i first started, i read a ton of general pastel info from general art intro websites, and for instance, nearly every little intro into the medium i found stated that unison were by far the best pastel, with some mentioning sennelier and nupastel as distant seconds, but no mention at all really about my personal favorite, schmencke, or the dozens of other brands... don't get me wrong, i love unison, but they have their place, and for me it's not as prominent a place as my true super softies, they have a texture all their own and my point i guess is that the general info out on the web seemed to be in total agreement that they were the best by far, though in reality you will find that every pastelist has their own own, greatly differing opinions on what brands are best in their eyes...
I would guess a lot of that beginner info is written as "click bait" by people with a light art background mostly trying to generate lots of visits to their websites, by having articles about everything art, even though they lack in content and have a lot of outdated information and stuff gleamed off of other general information sites doing the same thing.

these days most pastel paper is pretty water resistant, aside from canson and a few other non-sanded papers, and even those are pretty thick, id be hard pressed to say that it's even possible, at best i would suspect that back in the day artists used thinner papers without the waterproof sanded coatings...though i still eye the theory dubiously...

If your looking for quality pastel how too's id highly recommend http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=7&f=439
there are also many great books available that discuss in detail many of the newest papers and products available, as well as how too's, I always recommend Richard McKinley's "Pastel Pointers" for landscape artists, and Ellen eagles "Pastel Painting Atelier" for portraiture, and another little known favorite of mine that deeply delves into very up to date equipment of pastel art, as well as figure drawing is Bev Lee's "Painting Children" most of these books can be previewed for free on google, and interestingly enough, though they only show you the first 20-40 pages or so, those are the pages that usually discuss equipment in all pastel books, so you can learn a great deal without buying anything. Used books can be bought very easily nowadays on amazon and others in almost brand new condition for just a few bucks often enough though, so i would highly recommend buying a few!

i would suggest sennelier latour fixative, I think it's mostly just gum arabic and alcohol, which is totally different than some cheaper brands that seem like they are essentially clear spraypaint... i"m pretty sure gum arabic is the main binder in many pastels anyway, so it's not like you are adding anything new to the picture. it works very well and doesn't seem to affect the color much, i think one key is how it's applied, the first coat should always be the lightest, followed by a few more coats, still on the light side...

another key thing is that when you spray, you always want to spray in large sweeps, where you start off the page, go over the page, and then keep spraying till your completely off the page again, i've seen people just go back and forth, never leaving the page, and never releasing the button until it's done, this often leads to uneven application, which tends to be much heavier on the sides, I've often marveled at how hard it is to tell that i have 3 coats of latour on my art, and wondered if a lot of the bad rap that fixative gets is from bad technique, and to a lesser extent, poor quality fixative....

03-15-2015, 04:48 PM
Ural, one thing you may want to look into is Stillman and Birn's paper. They do high quality high priced art journals with very high quality watercolor paper. The 180lb Beta and Delta papers (white and cream respectively) are Rough but the tooth in the Rough paper isn't like Arches rough - it has a very fine grain with deep valleys and peaks. They hold pastel better than Mi-Tientes to my happy surprise, which is why my Stillman & Birn Pastel Journal has some pages primed with Colourfix primer and others that I didn't prime at all. Just painted on them.

I do use fixative on them, sometimes Spectrafix and sometimes a Krylon UV protective archival final fix. Both performed well.

It may also help to use fixative and then add light and bright accents again over it.

Senorsloth, I haven't written much about Schminke and don't have a set of them yet but they are very good quality. They are super soft. Unisons are my favorite hand rolled but Mount Vision comes very close. I sort pastels by type and if you love Schminke then you do, and are happily able to settle into using a favorite brand.

I fall in love with all my pastels when I first get them and then rediscover them in rotation. Schminke are definitely worth the money, enjoy them!