View Full Version : Pastel Surfaces

05-22-1999, 03:30 AM
Can anyone tell me if you can or should apply pastels directly on canvas, or should you prime it or gesso it or do something to it first? Or is it customary or preferable to only use pastels on paper? Also, must you spray a fixative if it's going to be under glass? Does the fixative darken the drawing? And, what kind of fixative should you use if it's not going to be behind glass?
I'm just so full of questions tonight. Thank you for any information you can give.

06-05-1999, 05:03 AM
Dear Mrs Linoge.
Pastel is traditionally a paper medium. I am currently using a 300gsm medium surface watercolour paper which has been screenprinted with a coloured acrylic paint. The results are quite stunning! Up to 10 layers of pastel can be applied before the tooth becomes "saturated" (this is without the additional "tool" of spraying with fixative. I have seen one of my beginner pastel students complete half a landscape painting on an acrylic primed canvas instead of paper before I could get around to him. I'm not sure of the permanence of his masterpiece except to say he did not have much pastel left when I got to him. It certainly eats pastels up very quickly.

There is a lot of confusion and differing of opinions when it comes to spraying pastels. I think it comes down to a very personal choice.

I personally only use it a) when I've got myself into a corner with my painting and can't possibly get the next stroke of pastel to adhere (overworking in other words!!)and b)when I am about to frame my pastels. There is nothing worse than framing your work of art only to find bright blue pastel dust settling on your double cream matt! I personally have not found a noticeable darkening of work or any other detrimental aspect of using Workable Fixative SPARINGLY!
Regards, Brenda Matson from "Vinegrove Galleries" in Australia.

08-23-1999, 05:34 AM
I've tried in vain to use acrylic primed canvas with pastel... there just isn't enough tooth to hold the pigment... if you wanted to use a cloth base for your artwork, unprimed canvas might work very well... I've found that it adhears very nicely to matte painted gypsum board (ie, an interior wall of your house).... the basic rule of thumb with surfaces is to make sure it has a certain amount of roughness, you'll get colors with much more richness, but make sure the roughness isn't too extreme; your pastels will disapear very quickly...

as for fixative, i agree, it is a matter of personal prefrence.... I usually only use it when I cannot store a painting or frame it immeaditally(sp?), or when there is alot of pigmint built up on the surface.

oh and my fixative of choice: maximum hold hairspray....

08-23-1999, 11:17 AM
Just a note about fixatives. I learned the hard way on this one. I had a beautiful pastel painting that I refused to spray. Well.....I ended up with a perfect dusting of my piece on the glass and it settled down onto the mat,the bottom edge to be exact.I will always spray my piece now no matter what. It helps to preserve your work and keeps it from smearing. I've had a pesky problem with the spraying technique. Beware they will spit on your work! I prefer a matt finish spray. I can't tell that big of differenc in the effect it has on the pigments because they seem to get darker but then return to their original colors when they dry.

I have a mess right now.I must have been out of my head.Can anyone offer suggestions? I 'm working on a piece on Bristol Board. I'm using pastels,oil pastels and water color crayons-dry. I have no idea what or if I should spray this with a fixative. I don't want to make the water color crayons run.

08-27-1999, 07:34 PM
you may want to try framing it with the glass restin on the actual artwork... if the glass was ever removed, i'm not sure how much of the crayon and oil pastel would stick, so if you put it under glass in this fashion it owuld probabally not be possible to remove it and retain the exact same amount of waxy medium on your board....it would also be hard to hold the glass over the piece without chance of smearing it while you set it in the frame...

Another idea would be to decide if there are parts of the painting that are more one kind of pastel than others (i'm not sure how much you've mixed the media).... It would then be possible to mask off the oil pastel and the crayon (a very low tack tape shouldn't stick to the oil pastel or the crayon if you dont push too hard), and spray a fixative onto the dry pastel. The oil and the crayon may still be subject to smearing (i've found oil pastel wont smear very easily after the oil has almost completely soaked into the paper, anyway), but the pastel wont fall off.

you could also even varnish the oil and the crayon... but the problem here would be that a water based varnish would tend to disolve the crayon, and an oil based varnish would disolve the oil pastel....

I can understand how you would be perplexed http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

just spraying the whole thing with fixative might work... but the oil pastels would be more prone to running than the crayon.

I would just try alot of diffrent things on scraps of board and come to a happy medium between no fixative and smearing it into a big mess.

(disclaimer at 12 o'clock...)

Remember to experiment... i havent tried any of these techniques (i usually don't mix water and oil-soluable media), but i have alot of familiarity with both oil and dry pastels.... so i'm not liable if you turn it into a study of oil on water. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

I hope I could be of some help... if you're good with a scanner, I wouldn't mind seeing how it turns out when your finished.

anita Stewart
08-27-1999, 10:30 PM
Madness is a very appropriate name for you..You had me ROFL..It worked out fine.I did have to leave off the regular pastel. I ended up doing most of it with oil pastels and water color crayons. For some reason the water color crayons went fine over the oil pastels. I did use water on the water color crayons in the background. I was pleased with the affect but it's really wierd. Maybe I can scan it and get you to critique it..I 'm not real pleased with some parts of it. It is a strong piece and has a feeling of boldness but.......I'm still not sure what to put on it as a fixative. I'll check with Binder's and see what they think..I do know it's best not to place the glass directly on it no matter what..

How did you come up with the name Madness??

09-10-1999, 03:33 PM
i've tried to mix oil pastel with dry pastel in the past with very fustrating results... but the mixture of water sol. crayon and oil pastel sounds pretty damn cool.
anyway, i wish you the best of luck.

as for my name.... its one of my favorite bands, not so much a state of mind. not SO much anyway... remember "our house, in the middle of our street"???

anita Stewart
09-12-1999, 01:02 AM
Thanks for the cool remark..It's fun to experiment.
I think every artist must be a little mad to keep working with art Or Is it the " normal" people who are the mad ones because they don't tap into the rewards of art?????

09-12-1999, 01:31 AM
never let anything touch your pastel!!! pastels should be framed under glass with a thick matte or liner to seperate it from the glass. a light spray to fix the pastel a little is prefered.
a VERY good ground for pastels is casein paint.
pastel paper, which is really like fine sand paper, will grind your pastels to nothing in a flash.

anita Stewart
09-12-1999, 10:11 PM
Would gesso be a good ground for oil pastels?
Anyone know about preserving old pastels? I talked with a man today who asked about preserving pastel work that was done in the 60's.He said some of the work had even been done on window shades instead of canvas.. All I could think to tell him was not to use a hot press mount adn to use a specila glass to filter out the UVH rays..Anyone got any other suggestions?