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Kathryn Wilson
08-15-2006, 03:16 PM
I was reading through some of my old PJ issues and found an interesting article in Issue 16 regarding using varnish to seal pastel paintings and eliminating the use of glass.

Has anyone used this method - and what was your outcome? Successful or disaster?

I don't know about any of you, but I am mighty tired to having to put my paintings behind glass and willing to try just about anything to get around it. I am sure the galleries would love it too.

So let's hear about your experiences. :eek:

cherylleclairsommer
08-15-2006, 03:37 PM
There are a couple artists in MN and N. Dakota who use this technique with some success. I'm not sure of the exact method but it involves Krylon-type spray (a few coats) along with many coats of varnish or even paste wax. The values become much darker so a very high key is necessary while painting.

You may try to google Susan Voight or Sandi Dahl but they may want to charge for their information and hours spent experimenting. Susan has a one day class that teaches this technique.

Kathryn Wilson
08-15-2006, 04:19 PM
Thanks Cheryl - it will be an interesting read. :)

Kathryn Wilson
08-15-2006, 04:36 PM
I found a web site for Sandi Dahl - I only saw one painting wherein she indicated it was sealed with varnish (new paintings, p.2)

http://www.sandidahlpaintings.com/index.htm

I've yet to find a site for Susan Fryer Voight.

binkie
08-15-2006, 06:24 PM
After reading about varnish on one of the threads on WC a while back I bought the Krylon varnish and tried it. I used it on practice portrait of my hubby. It set the pastel but it also REALLY darkened it a lot.

That's my experience. If you are going to give it a try I would not experiment on a painting that is important to you. I tossed my practice piece after using the varnish.

binkie

scall0way
08-15-2006, 06:29 PM
After reading about varnish on one of the threads on WC a while back I bought the Krylon varnish and tried it. I used it on practice portrait of my hubby. It set the pastel but it also REALLY darkened it a lot.


I'd love to see what you mean. You don't have any "before" and "after" photos, do you? I'd sure love the idea of fixing pictures too. I had one sitting on my easel, and I stumbled against it and lost the whole top quarter of the painting! I managed to basically restore it, but have never liked the result as much as the original.

Kathryn Wilson
08-15-2006, 06:31 PM
After reading about varnish on one of the threads on WC a while back I bought the Krylon varnish and tried it. I used it on practice portrait of my hubby. It set the pastel but it also REALLY darkened it a lot.

That's my experience.

binkie

Hi Binkie - that's what I'd heard - that if you use this method, you almost have to compensate for it while painting.

Would love to see a before and after.

binkie
08-15-2006, 06:37 PM
Sorry, I tossed the painting of my hubby as I noted when I edited my reply. I still have several unsuccessful paintings (putting it mildly) that I'll spray and post, that is, if everyone promises not to laugh.

binkie

skintone
08-15-2006, 07:47 PM
I promise not to laugh. I'm curous about how this works also.


Sorry, I tossed the painting of my hubby as I noted when I edited my reply. I still have several unsuccessful paintings (putting it mildly) that I'll spray and post, that is, if everyone promises not to laugh.

binkie

Bringer
08-15-2006, 08:04 PM
Hi,

Once I posted on a thread a link for a pastel artist who uses acrylic gel.
But I don't know how this will affect the apearance.
If I'm not mistaken he sent me an email.
Let me see if I have it...
Kind regards,

José

Bringer
08-15-2006, 08:08 PM
Hi again,

Ok, I found it.
His name is Fred Parker.
And he sent me this :

«Dear José: Thank you for asking. I have experimented with various methods... some failed... But, eventually I figured it out. I use soft pastels. I use 100% rag acid free paper. About 150 lb, hot pressed. Knowing I will eventually use liquid acrylic to coat the pastel image (which would otherwise warp the paper once wetted), I first build a wooden panel (usually a door-skin with 1"x2" boards at the rear outer edges). I seal the panel with an oil base primer so the wood will not contaminate the back of the paper. I then saturate the paper with water (like a watercolorist might do) and while still damp, gently stretch it over the panel (staples at the edges like an oil painter would stretch canvas). Once the paper is dry, it is tight like a drum. The paper is then ready for the pastel image. Once I have finished the pastel, I then use a small brush and apply a clear acrylic ("varnish" or "medium") right on top of the pastel. I use a small brush and keep to one color at a time to minimize smearing. If smears occur, I try to use them as part of the image or wipe them off before the acrylic has a chance to dry. After I have given most of the image a single coat with the small brush, I then use a larger brush and really coat the entire image. There is a considerable difference in the look of the pastel once it is wetted (not unlike what would occur if you used a spray fixative). If you are a "pastel purist" you would probably not like the changes. In my case, I consider the change to be acceptable. Especially since there is no longer any need for glass to protect the image. Because I had stretched the paper while it was wet, the application of the acrylic moisture has no effect on the paper. I leave the paper attached to the panel, but it can be removed if necessary. Usually, I just frame the whole thing as it is. As you can see with several works on my web site, I often create (in pastel) a trompe 'loeil mat around the image area. With the panel behind and the acrylic in front, there is little that can damage the art once it is framed.
I have often used acrylic inks, pencil and watercolor (after I have mounted the paper) before I start using the pastels. Taking advantage of the characteristics of each medium... details with the pen or pencil... softness with the watercolor... and color and texture with the pastels. A multi-layered cake. You just have to do the layers in correct order.
Hope that answers your questions. Let me know if I can be of further help.»

And here's his site :

http://www.parkerfineart.com/

Kind regards,

José

binkie
08-15-2006, 08:36 PM
It took two coats of varnish to set the pastel. When I sprayed hubby's portrait his face darkened a lot. Don't know if it's the colors I used but this time it did not darken as much as the portrait. On my computer screen (since I need a new monitor) there doesn't seem to be much difference, but in real life it is considerably darker. Anyway, I would try experimenting first before I sprayed a treasured painting.

Remember, no laughing.:D Here goes:

binkie

Deborah Secor
08-16-2006, 12:26 AM
I've done it. I hate the look! It absolutely turns me off, off, off. I did it for a panel that--get this--went on a bus! (The things an artist will do to make a living...) Now, it wasn't as bad as it sounds...well, okay, maybe it was, but they auctioned off the panels in the end and an attorney bought mine, so at least I got something for the deal!

I had to structure the painting much, much higher key, and I found that some pigments became translucent. I lost the yellows--they became gray-greens--and the pale blues looked like gooey white with flecks in it. The magentas turned navy blue, but the greens looked pretty much the way they always look. Talk about dark and gloomy and muddy and UG-LY! As far as I'm concerned, this technique belongs on the back of a bus, fumes and all. But hey--that's just me. :rolleyes:

Deborah

binkie
08-16-2006, 03:48 AM
I believe I'm supposed to note that the flower painting in which I attempted to adorn with ice is another artist's photo work and I was just using it for practice.

binkie

CindyW
08-16-2006, 10:12 AM
I haven't tried this but I can't imagine that one can brush on top of pastel without smearing it, resulting in alot of foul language (from me, for sure!) :envy: :D :lol:

I think the learning experience is greatly worthwhile in order to further personal understanding of one's medium so I will experiment with this.

The only surface additive I've ever used (once) was fixative and I hated the toxic stuff, not so much for its definite alteration of my painting surface and coloration but because I felt like I was polluting the air and possibly my own lungs (even tho' I was outside in the breeze) for no good reason. The surface darkened and took my joy out of the whole end result. But....live and learn what's right for you.
Cindy

PeggyB
08-16-2006, 01:42 PM
It isn't "varnish", but there is at least a couple different methods being used successfully by Trish Messenger (SanAntonio) and Sandra Jackoboice (Michigan/Florida). I know they use an acrylic polymer liquid (PVA I believe) mixed with water, and it is done in many layers of spraying and pasteling. They will be presenting their methods (Trish on prepared panels or paper, and Sandy on canvas) at the next IAPS convention in Albuquerque in May 2007. Trish's method is based upon that used by Bill Creevy, and it is with his blessing that she is doing so. Bill demo'd his method at the 1999 Albuquerque convention.

I've "played with" this method, but like Deborah found it isn't for me. It does change the values considerably, and only a very good knowledge of how the different pastels work with the PVA and a very good knowledge of color theory seem to produce a more successful product. Personally, I think it changes enough so that one doesn't end up with a "traditional" pastel appearance at all. About the only thing that remains "pastel like" is the ability to see the strokes the artist has made. If your method of using pastels doesn't have a lot of strokes, it will look more like an acrylic than a pastel. Gee - you suppose using an acrylic medium might have something to do with that appearance? lol

Peggy

Eclectic_Asylum
08-16-2006, 02:56 PM
I've experimented with this method quite a bit. Before you try anything here's an easy test you can do to see some of the results.

TEST:

Get some scrap white paper and grab a few pastels in a range of values. Do some strokes on the paper and smudge it so you get a range from pure color to color with the paper showing through. Then spray it all liberally with a fixative.

THE RESULTS:

First thing you will notice is that the pastels drastically change in value. Midrange colors will turn to deep darks. Dark colors will appear almost black.

Second thing that you will notice is that what looked like a smooth gradiation unsprayed with have a clumpy look to it once sprayed. In some areas the paper will show through again. Sometimes an area that lookes like it has an even color while unsprayed will become very uneven when wetted.

OTHER OBSTACLES:

Working high Key isn't the solution. Every pastel has a different value shift when wetted. On a scale from 1-10 some colors may shift 5 while others might only shift by 1.

If you blend or layer pastels the difference in value shift can be a problem. What looks like a nicely blended color can give you unexpected results when one of the colors shifts in value so drastically. It can create specs and textures you don't expect because of how it pooled on the surface. A color that has been hidden by an overcoat can suddenly come to the forefront by wetting. Because the refraction of light behaves differently on dry pastel vs through a medium thicker layers of pastel are required to cover so the surface doesn't show through once wetted.


MY METHOD:

For me creating a fixed surface is for two purposes. 1. to eliminate the need for glass. And, 2 to add effects like a texture surface. For this reason I use a stretced canvas that is prepared with a plaster or acrylic texture. On top of this I use and acrylic pastel ground to give it a lot of tooth.

PREPARING A PALETTE

I always prepare the colors I'm going to use by doing the experiment I outlined above. Do test marks and wet them wih water or a spray fixative to see how the color will perform once wetted. Simply working high key doesn't work because of the variability in value shifts of different colors. Once you know how the colors will shift they will be much easier to handle.

WORK IN LAYERS

Alternate between working with the pastels and fixing. I use a Blair oderless workable fixative in a well ventillated and filtered area. The surface needs to have a very strong tooth prepped with either AS or Golden acrylic pastel ground so the layers of fixative can be worked. I do the pastel painting roughly then spray the whole thing to see how my colors are shifting. Then I can correct problems in subsequent layers. Because unexpected things happen many times you will find a look that is unobtainable with other mediums and that accident becomes incorporated into the work. While the workable fixative is wet (or with the addition of water) you can blend colors using a brush or your finger.

FINISHING THE WORK

Apply a none workable fixative liberally and allow to dry completely (I generally wait a couple of days). At this point you have a variety of options. The easiest is to use spray varnish. However this isn't a the best for archival purposes since most varnishes are made to be stripped with a variety of solutions. If you want a piece that can be archived and restored you need to create an isolation layer between your work and the varnish. The easiest way to do this is to thin some soft gel acrylic with water an apply it to the well dried fixative. This takes a couple of coatings and should be done very carefully in the beginning because the moisture and brush stroke can cause the fixative to become soluable. An atomizer or airbrush is very helpfull. If you use a brush try not to work an area very much. Sometimes I will pour the thinned gel solution and spread it carefully with a very large brush not worrying about pooling. Let the first coat dry completely and additional coats can be applied with a brush to even the glaze. With different bodied clear acrylic gels you can create interesting texture effects over the top of the original work. Once the isolation layer is dried an acrylic varnish can be painted on in the regular manner.



Jason

Kathryn Wilson
08-16-2006, 04:07 PM
Jason, do you have any before and after images we could view? Or, at least a finished painting?

Peggy, did Bill Creevy discuss this method in his book? Thanks for joining in on the discussion.

Bringer
08-16-2006, 04:15 PM
Hi,

PVA stands for Polyvinyl Acetate (sp?) and it's a resin found on good white glues, for insteance.
It's being used nowadays for sizing canvases instead of rabbit skin glue.

Kind regards,

José

sks
08-16-2006, 04:26 PM
It was interesting to read this thread although it doesn't look like we've solved the issue as yet.
I have pretty much given up working with my pastels because of the framing issues - mostly that I have pastel flaking off inside the frame. They are also very fragile to move around so don't do well taking them to very many shows.
I was really hoping someone would come up with a way to preserve the work without the regular framing.
.......soon I hope:D :confused:
Sharon

Eclectic_Asylum
08-16-2006, 04:35 PM
Kat I don't have any before and afters because I layer with the fixative. I have a couple of painting's pictues. Unfortunately I don't have an image of the best one. I did a vivid portrait a couple weeks ago using the method but I was so close to deadline I didn't get a snap of it and I'm waiting for the customer to bring it back by so I can document it.

These first two images have a textured ground in the focal area but it is hard to tell from the picture. These are 30+ inch stretched canvases.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Aug-2006/78585-flowers.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Aug-2006/78585-poppies.jpg


This image is from part of a giant outdoor mural I am working on.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Aug-2006/78585-DSC03724b.jpg


Sharon there is no absolute answer. It is possible to do it but it changes how you have to work with pastels. It is almost like learning a completely new medum and technique.

Jason

pequan
08-16-2006, 04:53 PM
binkie: it looks like it does the same thing any fixative does, takes the brightness out of the painting...all the highlights go dim

bluefish
08-16-2006, 05:31 PM
Jason:

INNOVATION - BEAUTIFUL INNOVATION! I just love what you are doing here with these beautiful pastel paintings - your color concepts are outstanding - what a breath of 'fresh aire' in your work - I wonder if any of the 'snooty' pastel societies will allow your work in their shows?

Pastels that look like acrylics - next they'll be putting acrylics under glass to look like pastels!

Thanks for the wonderful insight on what a very clever guy is doing - keep us informed of your work - it is very interesting!

'bluefish'

Kathryn Wilson
08-16-2006, 05:46 PM
Yes, Jason, if you think of it, when your customer brings the commissioned piece back for framing, take a photo and let us see. Please post in this thread so we can all see it.

PeggyB
08-16-2006, 08:57 PM
Quote José: PVA stands for Polyvinyl Acetate
Thanks José. I never do keep that term straight in my mind most likely because I don't need to!

Quote Kat: Peggy, did Bill Creevy discuss this method in his book?
No Kat, he doesn't. It is a very time consuming "experimental" type of process as far as he's concerned. He hasn't prefected it to where he feels comfortable telling others how to do it. I think he doesn't want to be resonsible for anyone ruining an otherwise good painting.

Quote Bluefish: I wonder if any of the 'snooty' pastel societies will allow your work in their shows?
Well now Bluefish, I wouldn't be too quick to throw stones. I happen to know at least the Pastel Society of America has accepted Bill Creevy's sealed work. However, he puts it under glass for the shows because that happens to be one of their criteria, and he happens to like the appearance of work under glass! IAPS has also accepted slides of work done in this manner, but so far to my knowledge none have been accepted, and it isn't because of the method of painting.

Quote Jason: It is almost like learning a completely new medum and technique.
Indeed it is. However, the way in which you do this it is a beautiful "new" medium.

Peggy

bluefish
08-17-2006, 07:59 AM
Peggy:I apologize for being such a hypocrite - I completely forgot about 'Moses' most important 11th Commandment - "Thou shall not submit pastel paintings to shows unless under glass"! - 'blue....'

cherylleclairsommer
08-17-2006, 11:13 AM
Kat,
If you are interested in contacting Susan, check out her information on mnartists.org. Her email is listed (I didn't want to write it here). She has had success with this process and has spent quite a bit of time experimenting. Not sure if she'll share the information. You'll need to paint in a higher key initially since the values darken substantially. Good luck and have fun. Cheryl

Kathryn Wilson
08-17-2006, 12:13 PM
Thanks, Cheryl. I can understand if an artist needs to keep her info to herself, but if she wouldn't mind sharing that would be great too.

Merriel
08-17-2006, 09:32 PM
Deborah I think I got the message loud and clear (LOL) You didn't like it
Huh??? I have seen a couple in a gallery I was in and the paintings were so nice but so dark. The artist came over and said she varnished all of her
paintings. What could I say? So I said nothing.

Leirrem

sundiver
08-17-2006, 11:49 PM
Here's a thread from 2002 about using Damar varnish and workable fixative with pastels.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=56672&highlight=Damar+varnish+pastels

artistic1
08-18-2006, 02:51 AM
Kat I don't have any before and afters because I layer with the fixative. I have a couple of painting's pictues. Unfortunately I don't have an image of the best one. I did a vivid portrait a couple weeks ago using the method but I was so close to deadline I didn't get a snap of it and I'm waiting for the customer to bring it back by so I can document it.

These first two images have a textured ground in the focal area but it is hard to tell from the picture. These are 30+ inch stretched canvases.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Aug-2006/78585-flowers.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Aug-2006/78585-poppies.jpg


This image is from part of a giant outdoor mural I am working on.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Aug-2006/78585-DSC03724b.jpg


Sharon there is no absolute answer. It is possible to do it but it changes how you have to work with pastels. It is almost like learning a completely new medum and technique.

Jason

I think you are makeing oil paint hey guys help us out thanks artistic1

KirstenK
08-18-2006, 11:03 AM
Hi. this is my first wet canvas post!
CindyW, do you use soft or oil pastels? your landscapes are beautiful. I use oil pastel and am also interested in some kind of varnishing. Has anyone used Sennellie's varnish? I believe it is a spray butI'm not certain.

CindyW
08-18-2006, 02:15 PM
Hi. this is my first wet canvas post!
CindyW, do you use soft or oil pastels? your landscapes are beautiful. I use oil pastel and am also interested in some kind of varnishing. Has anyone used Sennellie's varnish? I believe it is a spray butI'm not certain.
Welcome, KirstenK!
I thank you kindly for your sweet compliment. There are many talented folks here and you'll see so very soon as you explore more.
I use softies. I do love what I've seen oil pastels are capable of...I just need to focus on softies and learn all I can as they intrigue me wholeheartedly.
Cindy

Eclectic_Asylum
08-18-2006, 03:27 PM
Ok everyone seems to want another method. Here's one I played with a couple of years ago and it is similar to fresco. You have a base of wet semi dried plater that you apply the pastel too. A spray bottle with water is needed to to keep the plaster damp. Spraying the pastel and plaster with water with water will darken the pastel but as it dries it will lighten back up. So you work in a lower key knowing that as it dries it will go high key. The problem is that the sligthly damp plaster doesn't behave in any way like paper. The harder the stroke the higher the chance of creating indentations in the plaster. When everything dries there is still some loose pastel that has to be knocked off. The end result is more stable than untreated pastel but it can stll be damaged by touch.

Some people seem to think that there is a solution that will work that won't alter the look of an untreated pastel work. This is simply impossible because of the nature of pastel and light.

Pastel by definition is pure pigment with minimal binder. Most soft pastels use trangracath (sp?) as the primary binder. Oil pastels use a fat/oil thus their name.

To understand why fixatives alter the look of pastel one needs to understand some principle of light. Reflection an Refraction. A soft dry pastel only reflects light off of the pigment. Refraction occurs when light must pass through a material. Refraction alters the path of the light and it is variable for diferent wavelengths of light. Glass has a very low refraction index, and some glass has better refraction than others (light passes through almost unaltered). When you add a binder medium to pigment it adds refraction. Oil and acrylic paints reflect and refract light because it must first pass through a medium before it reaches the reflective pigments. The medium disperses some of the light at its surface, when passing through the medium, and when leaving the medium. An example is the difference between a glossy and matte medium. The medium itself has some reflectiveness a matte medium has an omnidirectional reflection thus the look of a flat shine free surface. Glossy on the other hand is bidirectional and it reflects the light at an opposite angle from incoming light causing glares and reflections.

When one adds a clear additional binder to pastels it adds refraction. That is why colors appear darker. In fact the colors haven't changed at all. The only thing that has changed is the intensity of the light begin reflected back. Some of the light is lost within the medium and some is reflected in other directions.

Compare a soft pastel to a oil pastel. In general soft pastels have a more intense and luminous feel to them because they pigment is not encapsulated within is refractive binder.

A painter must have an intuitive understanding of refraction to use the medium. As paint dries the colors appear to undergo a slight shift. The liquid binding medium forms into a diferent crystal structure as it dries and this different crystal structure has a different refractivity.

The difference between varnishing a soft pastel and drying paint is that the paint, when wet, already sufferes from refractivity because of its binding soution. The soft pastel is basically pure pigment and varnish or fixative is an addition of a refractive solution.


"I think you are makeing oil paint hey guys help us out thanks artistic1"

Technically it would be acrylic paint since the binders are latex and resin based. The difference between varnishing pastel and painting is the method of application. Applying the pastel requires no brushes and is applied in the same manner and with the same techniques as any other pastel work. One just needs to work in layers of a binding solution and consider how those binding materials will alter the appearance of color.

Jason

pequan
08-18-2006, 04:08 PM
WOW Jason, that really does explain it all.... thank you

bluefish
08-18-2006, 06:48 PM
Jason:

You have the best of two worlds - you can put a piece of glass in front of your painting and enter it in a Pastel competition or you can skip the glass and enter it into a Oil/Acrylic competition! Good luck in either!

'bluefish'

Kathryn Wilson
08-18-2006, 06:54 PM
Hi. this is my first wet canvas post!
CindyW, do you use soft or oil pastels? your landscapes are beautiful. I use oil pastel and am also interested in some kind of varnishing. Has anyone used Sennellie's varnish? I believe it is a spray butI'm not certain.

Kirsten, I hope you have visited the OP forum - ask this question there - they have discussed using all kinds of mediums over OP's.

Welcome to WC and the Pastel Forum and the Oil Pastel Forum - we are here to help, so ask away!

PeggyB
08-18-2006, 07:58 PM
Thank you Jason for this very good information on the reason pastels appear darker when any material is sprayed on to them. You appear very knowledgable on this subject, and I appreciate anyone doing what should be my own "homework". Seriously, thank you!

Peggy

Kathryn Wilson
08-19-2006, 06:42 PM
Jose posted this useful link to a Pastel Journal article on this subject.

http://www.skjackoboice.com/images/a..._june_2004.pdf