View Full Version : Spraying the back?

07-16-2002, 10:15 AM
I borrowed a couple of books from the library on pastels (well 5 to be exact) and one talks about spraying the piece from the back to fix it. The spray works through a little and doesnt have any affect on color. Has anyone tried this method?

It also says that pastels eventually "set" over time because of moisture in the air etc. It also mentions spraying the second last coat of pastel work and leaving the final one.

I am still debating whether or not to spray and I am just curious about different ideas.

07-16-2002, 11:19 AM
That's very interesting. I might try that.

The majority of opinions I've heard are against spraying at all, and if you have to spray, do it early in the work.

Someone at the art supply store said to give it a very light finishing spray, so that's what I started to do. I couldn't see any darkening at all, but I know it was coating the paper because the paper started to get slightly rigid. Then one time I saw little dark specks like splatter, but it didn't ruin the work. I believe this is the darkening they talk about. I think the trick is to keep the spray nozzle very clean and hold it back a good distance. I give one very, very light coat horizontally, then vertically. The pastel can still rub off with your finger, but I think the whole work becomes more stable (no powder falling off when framed).

I'm a risk taker, but you might want to test it on something other than your best work to see what you think.

07-16-2002, 09:20 PM

Yes I thought of that too. Trying it on a test piece. It is hard to decide as once you have done it you cant go back.

Thanks :)

07-17-2002, 01:53 AM
The idea of spraying the back makes sense but I have totally given up on babying my pastels... for now.
My limited storage and quantity of UNSOLD art work..(pardon my outburst) make getting them under glass and on a wall nearly impossible.
My concession to the spray is that the bulk of my work is done in hard pastels. I spray as I go, so I don't have any ugly surprises such as my first piece in Sally Strand's class which I photographed, misted lightly with spray, glanced at it and figured more is better and saw the whole thing nearly disappear.
General rule for fixative FOR ME, is that the lightest richest colors work best in soft pastel, they are the last I put on and I try to do the lightest spray.
As pastels tend to come in more tints they often lack guts in the dark, so it is a neat trick to spray after the darkest parts and hold them down.
I use spray to open up the tooth of a picture I have worked too much. The colors jam up like crayon sometimes and the fixative hardens them irregularly so they get toothy again and accept a few more layers.
When I use lots of soft pastel, I put it in either a plastic sheet protector or against a slippery sheet... Duane Wakeham said he raids posters, like for movies or at video stores, because the coated stock is smooth and non absorbtive, and I store them flat. That way the dust is pressed into the paper. I have not got the luxury of humidity to fix it, so I just let them lie as peacefully as I can until I think of a way to get them displayed.
so... am I adding anything to this discussion, or just happy to have a minute to myself to voice an opinon.... (underaged house guests...surrogate mom...)
thanks for listening.

07-17-2002, 10:20 AM
This is good advice DJ. Thanks. I just got some spray called Krylon "Workable Fixatif" and I was wondering if this opens up the tooth as you suggested. I have run into this problem, so I'm going to try it. It's nice to know it has an alternate but useful purpose. In Canada, everything has an English and French side. If I had paid closer attention to the French, maybe I would have figured this out sooner. It says "Fixatif Retouchable".

07-17-2002, 11:44 AM
Thanks DJ

Its good to get opinions and advice from the experienced people here.
I have since read what you have stated aswell about the pastels being pressed into the paper when covered. One book says to lay cellophane or tissue paper over the work then cover it with a board and appy pressure.

So I guess I will try different methods and see what happens. :)

07-17-2002, 12:10 PM
DEFINATELY the workable kind.
I forget there are finish kinds too.
And when you hear tissue, it means shiny tracing paper, or eisenglass (not sure how to spell) not like facial tissue. It is the smoothness that keeps it nice. Otherwise there is friction and it rubs off the colors.
Another good thing about storing is, when I get them out, I forgot what they originally looked like, so if I lost much of the dust, I may not even notice by the time I see them again!

07-17-2002, 12:30 PM
Hi everyone, Thank you...FINALLY someone is talking about spraying. I have posted several threads with questions about spraying (to do or not to do, etc) and have had no response.
Your idea about pressing the picture between something smooth and shiny is great. Have you used suede mat (I think velour is same or similar)? Is it true that the 'pile' on suede mat swallows up the pastel and it must be applied in multitudes of layers and sprayed copiously to keep the color of the mat from taking over?
Of course, one couldn't spray the back because it is just too thick.
I haven't really liked what the workable spray did to the colors on Canson mi-tientes so just stopped doing it.
I now have a portrait the customer is sending to South Africa and I want to be confident that it will live a long and beautiful life there.

And what it this about moisture???What an excellent idea. It rains here 255 days a year....

07-17-2002, 04:41 PM
dj thanks

I did think they meant the tissue paper that you use to wrap a gift or something. ( I'm not too bright eh?) I wanted to ask you as well how you store your work. I thought a flat container under my bed would be ok.

Arizona I had a question about the Canson paper you use. What exactly does mi tientes mean. I hope dj will get back to you on the pastel on suede matting as I know nothing about it.:)

07-19-2002, 02:20 AM
no spreche frenchez.
Sorry I sort of assume it is their brand name...
MY SUGGESTION about shipping.
I buy those clear sheet covers. Maybe they are more like cellphane than poly, and they fold and they have holes, like you put in books.... you know...
I have shipped many pictures in them and displayed them in mats in them, because they are really stable if you tape them in there and then roll them in a large strong mailing tube.
By taping them to the plastic and taping the plastic in there, the minimum of jostle occurs.
Not a good thing using board.
The velour and suede do seem like the eat color. They seem to me to be hard to hold an edge BUT that makes them really good for the "pastelly" soft buttery pastel paintings, of rich glowing skin, babies, young beauties, etc!
That is the beauty of the sticks! They are scratchy and rough and vulgar and gentle and delecate and all in the SAME picture if you want them to be!!
I have been using board more. I have been cheating, because I have been given a lot of frames and am experimenting in painting the picture to match the shape of the frame.... the square ones of late... and it is much easier on board. I almost feel like they are as sturdy as canvas, except of course when you drop them

07-19-2002, 03:21 AM
Thanks for the advice.
I only have access to one type of fixative called "Helmar Crystal Kote" and seems to work OK. I use exactly the same method as Maverick.

Originally posted by maverick
That's very interesting. I might try that.

I think the trick is to keep the spray nozzle very clean and hold it back a good distance. I give one very, very light coat horizontally, then vertically. The pastel can still rub off with your finger, but I think the whole work becomes more stable (no powder falling off when framed).

I might add it is good advice to follow the directions on the can and clean the nozzle properly by holding the can upside down and spray until no more fixative comes out. This stops the "spitting" of larger fixative particles for next time. Also I make sure when I start to spray, I don't point it at my painting for the first half second or so just in case there a but of dust or old fixative caught in there that would also tend to "spit" blobs.

I'll try spraying the back which theoretically sounds good advice, particularly on paintings that only have a thin film of pastel. Thicker paper might be a problem though. Will let you know what happens.

DJ: what did you mean by "I have shipped many pictures in them and displayed them in MATS in them? What are the MATS you're talking about????

07-19-2002, 10:10 AM

Literal translation "Semi-Tints". You might say mid-tones or something like that. It comes in a pad of 5 different colors, plus white (which really isn't a mid-tone).

07-19-2002, 10:34 AM
Thanks Maverick

I am not sure they carry it in Curry's. Thats where I get most of my supply's for my oil painting.

I have never seen that paper there. They dont seem to cater to pastel painters as they seem to only have the large loose sheets of tinted paper and dont carry the pastel boards I have heard of.

Cant seem to find any other good art supply store around here.

07-19-2002, 11:45 AM
if I have one I am showing to people, but not framing, I will take the sheet protector and tape it behind a mat with the picture protected in it.
That way I can give it a little snazz and haul it around relatively safely.
Like if I am doing a picture for final approval OR showing a finished piece to my friends or clients before shipping it out.
Just transports pretty well. The mat holds it stable and the sheet protector keeps me from wearing it home.
ps, here is the dick blick page on mi tientes (http://www.dickblick.com/zz107/10/products.asp?param=0&ig_id=820)

07-19-2002, 11:48 AM

Actually, I got my paper from Curry's in Whitby, Ontario. The pad I'm using now is 12 x 16. They had nothing bigger in a bound pad, so I got some 18 x 24 Strathmore charcoal paper in assorted tints. It has a similar surface, but it's lighter in weight. Works well though.

If your local Curry's doesn't have it, then try the nearest Michael's Arts and Crafts Superstore. I saw it there, besides the single sheets. Wow, they have a huge selection of other paper though.

Hey! The Michael's web site has pastel board http://www.michaels.com/art/online/DisplayProduct?prrfnbr=1198818&cgnbr=CRAFTS-261 I'm not sure if they have a Canadian web site. I'm going visit the store and check it out. Here's Curry's web site in case you haven't seen it: http://www.currys.com/

07-19-2002, 02:18 PM
Hey Maverick thanks and

WOW!! This is a small world as they say. The Curry's you got your paper from is the one I go to all the time in Whitby.

I did not see the paper you are talking about. When I asked about paper they mentioned the single sheet. I will go back and maybe try the charcoal paper you are talking about. I will go over to Micheals to.

Thanks also for the websites. Put them on my favorites

ps do you belong to the Oshawa Art Assoc. I am a member there and programs director.

07-19-2002, 02:58 PM
Really!? It IS a small world.

I know Curry's has the paper. It took me a while to find it as it was lost in the sea of other papers. There's a design on the cover that looks like a multi-coloured fan.

I just joined the Whitby Station Art Gallery. I don't belong to any other organization. I'd like to join the Oshawa Art Assoc., but not sure if I have to live there? I'm in Whitby.

07-19-2002, 09:32 PM

You can join with no problem. There are people in it and they live in Orono and Port Perry and all over.

I can pm you with more info.

07-19-2002, 09:38 PM
..and so the wetcanvas soulmating service, once again brings kindred spirits together.....!