View Full Version : Fixative

02-07-2003, 03:19 AM
Hello folks
What's the opinion on use of pastel fix? (I'm new to WC)
If I don't use it my framer gets concerned about dust-drop. If I use it lightly I'm still concerned for pictures that have to travel unframed.
I've attached a small Highland Cow ("heeland cooo"!!!) which I ruined with spray (although the client still took it...). The staining shows on the paper at the edge.
Thanks for your thoughts.....

Highland Calf, 'Kirsty', pastel on Canson

02-07-2003, 03:29 AM
Once I had a can of fix that did this, it was a Winsor & Newton can, and I was FURIOUS to find that it stained the paper. I returned it to the manufacturer, with a letter of complaint, and they replaced it. The next can did not stain the paper at all.

It is OK to use fix, but there are a few precautions to take.

1. If you plan to leave large areas of paper uncovered - which is slightly dodgy practice, frankly, because paper colours are fugitive and will often fade - then BEFORE starting to work, test your fix on the paper to see if it will leave marks. If it does, then you have to use pastel all over. If you want a plain backgrund, then use a pastel colour which is the same as the paper colour!!

2. If you are worried that the fix will darken your lightest tones -well, IT WILL if you use lots. So you have to use a very light spray at the end of painting, and then cover your work with a piece of GLASSINE paper. If you press down really hard on the Glassine, it will press the pastel down too, and this might help to eliminate pastel drop. Notice I say"HELP". Fix the glassine in place to transport the pastel to the framer, it is wonderful stuff.

3. If you use pastel fix during the course of painting, this also might help to prevent pastel drop, as previous layers of pastel are held slightly better than lots of unfixed layers, where the topmost layers are inclined to shift, if they are going to.

4. Always use Glassine if you send out pastels unframed - together with a warning letter to the client that pastels will smudge easily and should not be touched UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES and only handled by a framer.

5. The framer should be told to do his best, it is really not his problem if the pastel drops. If he is very worried, he could use a spacer under the mount-I personally do not like them because they cast a shadow in some lights, but some people do like them.
Tell the framer that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES is he allowed to spray the pic with fix ... I have had a framer do this, unasked, and ruin the pic! She thought she was varnishing it, I think.

No easy answer to the problem of pastel drop. I have sold hundreds of pics, however, and ony the odd one has suffered from this, because I do all of the above.


02-07-2003, 04:15 AM
Thanks for the info Jackie - that really helps and I will give it all a try.
What is Glassine paper? Is it something I can get mail-order?
Many thanks for the help.

02-07-2003, 05:22 AM
I get my glassine mail order from Heaton Cooper in the Lake District in England. But then I am based in England! Depending where you are, you might have to try tracking some down. Why not try a search on Google for Glassine papers? Or ask Dick Blick, they seem to post all over the world.

02-07-2003, 05:26 AM
Interesting about the Glassine. Now someone told me recently they post there pastel work in tubes. Light spray but they roll the pastel paper with the work outside inside a piece of tissue paper. Said they have posted many pastels over many years. Any comments on if you roll your work for travel or keep it flat. If so what is the cover, card or board? Cheers
Regards Les

02-07-2003, 05:47 AM
I want to know what glassine is too ! I'm enjoying using pastels, but seems everytime I look sideways half of its gone !!!! - but then I am a mucky little pup at heart anyway * sighs and thinks about the durability of acrylics*

Also heard that you shouldn't use fixitive on the final layer of pastel - why is that ??????

02-07-2003, 02:26 PM
Hi Zill..... sorry you thought spray ruined your paper..... dont think it ruined your painting though ....... its a lovely Heeland Cooo :D .... I ordered Glassine from Dick Blick .... got it in their sale.... but beware... you probably will get billed import duties (Vat)

Mikki Petersen
02-08-2003, 12:59 AM
Great informaion Jackie on handling and preserving pastels. Thank you. I use glassine to cover finsished works until I get them framed but I did not know about pressing the glassine to the paper after using fix to compact it a bit. Great tip! Thanks.

02-08-2003, 04:08 AM
Importing anything from the US to the UK always attracts customs duty. You should always try to get your materials closer to home if poss, and there isn't much you cannot get in the UK.

Paper suppliers: John Purcell 020 7737 5199

RK Burt: 020 7407 6474 (large min. order tho)

Heaton Cooper: 01539 435280 (they also have a website)


02-08-2003, 12:45 PM
Many thanks Jackie
I've been through my Jacksons, Great Art and Art Express with no luck - I'm off to check out the others you mentioned now.

Do you run workshops in England?

02-10-2003, 05:19 AM
You will certainly be able to get your glassine from Heaton Cooper, that is where I get mine.

At present, I am not running any workshops in England, I am afraid. I have taken a break from teaching for a while, in order to concentrate on my own work. WC is one way I can continue doing a bit of "teaching", in a very small way, if people need a little help here and there, without having to gallop about the country. I personally find teaching extremely exhausting - on my feet all day, talking all day, and trying to help people to achieve their potential, is a far cry from working on one's own paintings, which is silent, cerebral, and I can pace myself properly. I miss the contact with people, but there we are, cannot do everything. I am working towards an exhibition in London in May, and that is a full-time effort.