View Full Version : Pastel will not adhere

06-10-2010, 07:47 PM
I am working on a large pastel on Fabriano Tiziano paper. I have been using Spectrafix or Krylon Workable fixative as the situation calls for it. One area of the painting will not accept more pastel. I scraped it down nearly to the bare paper and then sanded with 400 and 800 grit sandpaper. I still cannot get the pastel to adhere to that area. I use Rembrandts, Unison, Schminkes, Senneliers, and Townsends. So far I have tried every brand except Schminkes to try to get the pastel to adhere to the recalcitrant area, but it simply dusts off. I can see the background clearly. After scraping and sanding I have tried reworking the bare paper - no dice. I have also used light fixative (I've tried both fixatives) in order to give the pastel something to adhere to besides the paper. Still no luck. If I scrape and sand any more I think I will have a nice hole in my paper ! I'm stumped by this problem. The pastels I'm using (mostly Rembrandts) are adhering properly everywhere else. They just will not stick to this one area. Does anyone have any suggestions before I completely tear out what little hair I have left ?? TIA.

Deborah Secor
06-10-2010, 10:22 PM
Hi bcorll. Welcome to the Pastel Forum! That's a difficult problem... One of two things might help. You might pick up a jar of Golden Fine Pumice Gel and thin it down with water. Then use a brush to dab in a bit of grit and let it dry thoroughly before painting on it. Perhaps you could try this on a separate sheet of the same paper beforehand, as I've never tried it on Tiziano. It might make too great a textural difference. I would try to approximate the texture, obviously, which could take a little experimentation with how thin or wet (or not) to make it.

If the bare spot is along an edge or in a rather inconsequential area you might also consider cropping, although I would consider that to be the last resort. Perhaps others will have some more suggestions.

Hope it works out for you.


06-11-2010, 05:54 AM
this sounds most unusual and most peculiar.

I have not tried either of the fixatives you have been using, so cannot comment about them, but I have used Tiziano papers time and again, hundreds of sheets, yet I have never had an issue with the pastel refusing to adhere. I would NOT have "sanded" the paper at all, since you will end up with a section of your painting which has a surface totally different to the rest of the image, I just dont think that is the answer.

The main reason why pastel wont stick generally to a surface is because either the tooth is too full, or there is a fault with the paper, it contains or has been treated with some kind of oily substance or plasticky stuff which rejects the pastel.

If you have tried sanding, and fixing, and nothing works, I would put this piece aside, doesn't sound to me as tho any kind of meddling with the surface will help and anyway, as I said before, you could so easily end up with what looks like a "patch" in your painting.

A thought for you. Why not turn the image into a mixed media piece. Treat it as an opportunity to try something new and have a bit of fun. Brush off most of what you have done all over, stick the sheet down onto something firmer, and then play around with sticking tissues and torn sections of paper onto the surface all over. Then begin again over the top. I have seen some wonderfully exciting images created in this way.

I know how hard it is to let go of something you have worked on, and like. But Tiziano is PAPER, it wont stand the kind of treatment you have been giving it, and it may be time to cut your losses. Or crop the pic as Deborah suggests.

WC Lee
06-11-2010, 12:48 PM
I used Fabriano Tiziano paper quite a bit, though not as much as Jackie, and I have not experienced the problem you encountered.

One thing that I am a bit confused on, was that area holding the pastel initially before the scraping and sanding? If this was the case, then I don't think you should have sanded the surface with sand paper, especially 800 grit sand paper as it is used to create a nice smooth finish on wood. What might have happened is the surface of that area has been sanded too smooth to hold the pastel.

Or if it wasn't holding pastel from the start, then there might be a fault in the paper or grease/oil transfer might have occurred. Perhaps someone with greasy/oily hands handled the surface of the paper before you got it?

06-11-2010, 02:36 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I have a feeling that the casein-based Spectrafix may just have clogged the pores of the paper. I decided to use some mineral spirits to brush over the area in hopes that it would dissolve the casein and allow me to paint. This is a large floral piece which does not lend itself to mixed media technique. If I can't resolve the problem, it may just be time to start again on a different support, perhaps museum board or even hardboard, something that will take lots of reworking. Tiziano does seem like a tough paper, though. A scraping / sandpaper repair to another area worked out fine.

06-11-2010, 04:22 PM
Eureka ! The best solutions are the simplest. I added some pastel to either side of the trouble spot, then washed it over the troublesome area with a bristle brush dipped in mineral spirits. When the mineral spirits dried, the area was covered, and needed only a spray of fixative to keep it that way.

06-11-2010, 05:46 PM
Yippee! I am so glad to hear it worked. More than once I've thought to paint in some pastel (not as an underpainting) and have it be the finished product. Am considering it for cliff reflections on a river scene right now.

Thanks for sharing.

06-13-2010, 08:17 PM
Another solution that works is to rub pastel over the area, then dip a brush into a casein-based fixative like Spectrafix and brush out the pastel. When it dries, it's ready for overworking.