View Full Version : Fixatives in journals?

07-31-2010, 10:18 AM
I'm just wondering who here, if anyone, uses fixatives to finish their work in their journals? Obviously, unlike works on regular paper the works in a journal are not going to be subject to effects from UV light near as much, but they do have a different problem and that is smudging from one picture to another on a facing page, or when drawing on the backside of a finished page and having the pressure transfer color to its previous opposite page (if you know what I mean!). When working I do use a piece of paper behind the page I'm working on to prevent the pressure transferring and marking the previous pages, but storing a journal like that, with lots of sheets of paper in between is kind of annoying! So - for those of you who work with Pencils or pastels (probably wouldn't have this problem if using paint?) do you use fixatives to prevent marking other pages and if so which kind do you prefer for this purpose? Thanks :)

Vivien Maloney
07-31-2010, 03:12 PM
Hi Rachel; There is of course a huge problem with Pastel - and that is it smudging of course. I do a lot of pastel work and have a pastel sketchbook, but like you, I have trouble with the pages smudging. I've found that even fixitive doesn't totally prevent it, so the only way is to put a piece of paper in between. The paper I use is called Glassine (I think) it's like Tracing paper (and that does the same job). I also would be interested to see if anyone else has a different idea, as I've tried everything and nothing else seems to work as well.

07-31-2010, 03:48 PM
I routinely use Blick workable matte fixative on pencil sketches and pastel sketches in journals and sketchbooks. I sometimes use SpectraFix, which is environmentally kinder, but on thin sketchbook paper it cockles unless I spend about twenty minutes carefully doing one spritz at a time and letting it dry. I'm still learning how to make the SpectraFix work right.

Either way it's good for preventing smudging. In my pastel journal I also put glassine page dividers between the painting and the back of the previous painting, but that's because I'm using heavy pastel applications that would smudge even with fixative. I've also had a dozen people tell me to cut the first page out and frame it, so I might do that - but still, the glassine inserts help a lot.

When I use oil pastel I don't, but I try not to do art on the facing page if I'm using oil pastels in a sketchbook. Crumbs will stick to the facing page but the drawing itself is usually fine.

08-01-2010, 01:45 AM
Rachel, haven't really needed to fix anything just yet, but will probably give a quick spray of fixative if I do. I usually use a "workable fixative" so I can add more later if I feel the need!

08-02-2010, 08:36 AM
With something smudgy like pastel or soft grades of graphite I would always use fixative - the slight movement of pages can turn your work into a muddy soup otherwise.

08-02-2010, 12:03 PM
Thanks for all your replies so far. As yet, I do not use pastels (but did include that in my question as I know they are very prone to smudging & may want to use pastel pencils sometime in the future!), but use mostly coloured pencil. Some of them smudge more than others. I have been using tracing paper cut to size, in between my pages. I've never used fixative and am a little nervous about using it as i've heard it can change the colours or make them darker? It may not be worth worrying over?

Robert - Blick workable matte fixative huh? Well if you use that then I'm sure its just fine!

Any other comments/opinions appreciated :-)

08-02-2010, 01:21 PM
several very light sprays of fixative are better, and cause less problems, than one heavy spray. I've not found any change with coloured pencil or pencil but it does change pastel - spray VERY lightly there.

Vivien Maloney
08-02-2010, 01:58 PM
I agree with what both Robert and Vhere have said. Fixitive DOES darken your pastel work. We can't get Blick products here in NZ, but no matter what the brand, I've found that any fixitive will darken pastel work. With pastel pencils you could give them a very light spray as they don't smudge as easily but they will smudge, especially in a Journal when you're turning pages etc. I only use one side of the page and don't work on the other side once its turned - a habit I've got into.

08-03-2010, 01:25 PM
Thanks Viv. I'll see how it goes with the plain Coloured pencils and once I get to doing more with the Derwent drawing or colorsofts I may need to use the fixative. If I ever get around to using pastels I'll either skip a page or line the pages in between or better yet, start a new journal just for those!
Thanks again :-)

08-18-2010, 05:16 AM
The Fabriano Artist Journals are great for pastel and CP sketching outdoors. I took one on a recent holiday here in the UK along with my favourite plain A5 sketchbook for watercolours.
I generally only use one side of each sheet but that's fine since it is loaded with Ingres paper and I prefer the 'ridged' side. I still had to fix my soft pastels which was a shame as it dulled them. Derwent Coloursoft seemed fine with out fixing which I'd expect from an oil/wax CP.

A few examples of my work done in the Fabriano are on Flickr (mikebailey61) - sorry my first post so not allowed to leave link :(.


08-23-2010, 02:53 AM
I have used it for some charcoal sketches in a book.

08-23-2010, 09:07 AM
I've been using Prismacolor fixative but only because that's all the local store had. It does seem to work well but man does it stink up the place! I think I'll only use it in the basement from now on.


08-23-2010, 09:25 AM
Fixative helps colored pencils if they are wax based, without changing the color. If you start getting wax bloom on a colored pencils page, gently wipe it off with a soft cloth and then give it a light coat of workable fixative. That seals and prevents it. I've had to do that with Prismacolors.

If on looking at pencils that haven't been used for a while, the tips of some colors look grayed, those pencils will be subject to wax bloom and benefit from a light fixative afterwards. Oil based colored pencils like Walnut Hollow, Caran d'Ache Pablo and Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor don't need it.

I'm still using SpectraFix in my sketchbooks because I keep it handy and it's a little safer to use - it won't scare off my cat and it won't cumulatively hurt my lungs using it right where I sit. Tradeoff between not having to get up versus dealing with cockling. Weighting the outside edge of the sketchbook with a heavy book does help reduce the curling and cockling.

Putting a plastic wrapped three-pack of AquaBords on top of the page resulted in pleating it where it cockled on my last soft graphite sketch. But I softened it with the next spray and tried putting the AquaBords just on the outside edge to stretch it flat and that eased the pleats, to the point that the page is mostly flat now. That's what I did on my latest page of sketches in the Blick hardbound sketchbook that has thin paper.

The heavy paper in the Pentalic Nature Sketch curls up evenly rather than cockling right in the middle and flattens out a bit after it's dry, especially if I put the book upside down later to weight it with the unused pages.

08-23-2010, 02:02 PM
I've been using Prismacolor fixative but only because that's all the local store had. It does seem to work well but man does it stink up the place! I think I'll only use it in the basement from now on.


LOL! I usually spray stuff outside. Basement is fine, but you're not really suppose to be spraying your work in your own house. You can, but it's stinky and the fumes aren't good for you. :lol: