View Full Version : In a fix with oil pastels

01-24-2003, 06:39 AM
I was wondering about the use of fixatives with oil pastels. Unfortunately "oil" is a three letter word so I've had difficulty doing a search for information as the WC search engine seems to require words of at least 4 letters. I did manage to dig up a couple of threads which mentioned that oil pastels can be fixed. This still leaves me wondering a couple of things.

1. How desirable/necessary is it to fix oil pastels? I understand that soft pastels pretty much need to be either fixed or mounted under glass in order to preserve them. Is the same true of oil pastels or can they safely be left out unfixed?

2. Assuming you do fix them, do you use the same fixative as for soft pastels/charcoal etc? I'm guessing that you do. Currently I use hairspray to fix charcoal sketches and I don't work in soft pastels (yet).

01-24-2003, 08:33 AM
If you go to the Dick Blick web site or ASW (Art supply wharehouse), you can order their catalogs for free or just order online. In both catalogs they offer a fixative specifically for oil pastels.

01-24-2003, 09:52 AM
Sennelier makes an oil pastel fixative. Here is the description from the dakota pastels site:

This transparent fixative leaves a clear, glossy film to protect oil pastels from smearing and dust adhering to the surface. The fixative is made from a vinyl resin with an alcohol base. It comes in a 250 ml plastic spray pump bottle (not an aerosol).

01-24-2003, 01:02 PM
Thanks Karen and sweetiness.

I wonder if this stuff is significantly different from ordinary fixative, or whether it's just a marketing ploy by the art companies to get people to buy two separate bottles of the same stuff. I expect I'm just being too cynical here, as usual.

Also, I'm still wondering how necessary it is to fix oil pastels in the first place.

01-24-2003, 04:44 PM
John Elliot says don't use fixative. He doesn't say why. Bill Creevy says you can put acrylic medium over them, and I've used acrylic matte varnish. I think the traditional way is not to put anything on them and frame them in glass. It would be difficult to clean dust off them if they were left out.

01-24-2003, 06:05 PM
Hi Magnus, It's been a long time since I used oil pastels, but I know I never ever used a fixative on them, when finished I would frame them behind glass to protect from dust, the same way as for dry pastels. What you must remember with oil pastels they are bound with oil and wax, now while eventually the oil will dry out the wax never does, so if you are going to frame them behind glass, there is no need to fix them, personally I think this way would be preferable.


01-24-2003, 06:13 PM
Recently I had been working with oil pastels and encountered a similar problem - their somewhat unstable nature made them smudge and interfere with the purity of other colours.

A(n introductory) book to pastels I have advises against fixing oil pastels because it would apparently make the colours lose their brilliance and appear in general damp, messy or 'stodgy'.

But if there were fixatives specially for oil pastels, then it shouldn't be the case?

01-25-2003, 03:07 PM
I had to put acrylic varnish over this . I had put a layer of matte medium on it so I could put another layer of oil pastel (a la Bill Creevy's book) and there was too much difference in the surface texture, part shiny and part dull. It made no difference to the colors. It looks like an acrylic painting now, though- not a problem for me.

Mikki Petersen
01-25-2003, 03:59 PM
Cannot advise...know nothing about oil pastels. But I can rave about the painting. It is a lovely soft still life with beautiful color manipulation.