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View Full Version : I ruined my pastel drawing with fixative


derek123
02-22-2011, 03:25 PM
Hi, I just ruined my nice pastel portrait of a dog with workable fixative. The spray darkened the whole thing, and made the fur too contrasted, so that it is not soft anymore but too sharp looking. There are also tiny spray marks on the surface of the background. The spray even blew off some of the background gray pastel revealing the yellow paper underneath. I am going to sell these pastel portraits to people, and I want to fix them, but now I don't know if I should as it totally ruined a good portrait I did. I just sprayed it about 30 minutes ago, so I have hope that it will lighten again and gain its softness, but I don't know if that is going to happen as it is dry to my fingers.

Any help or advice greatly appreciated. Do you fix your pastels? I am using Pastelmat and regular medium pastels and pastel pencils. Thank you.

allydoodle
02-22-2011, 03:36 PM
I hate to say this but, your painting probably won't soften or go back to the way it was. This is why I won't use fixative on my pastel paintings.

Hopefully you used workable fixative. If you did, and you are working on a sanded surface you should have plenty of tooth to apply more pastel and get it back to the way it was. More work for you, I know, but lesson learned. If you are working on a non-sanded surface, then I guess you've actually added tooth to the painting (provided you've used workable fixative), so you can still pastel over it and hopefully get it back to where you want it.

Do a search of 'workable fixative' on this forum (Pastel Talk) and you should get tons of information explaining why many people don't like using fixative. There are different opinions, but it seems most people avoid it. I never use it on my pastels, and I sell commissions all the time. I just make sure to explain to people that they need to get the artwork framed as soon as possible, usually I put the fear of God into them, and they go straight to the framer from my studio. The artwork most often never makes it to their home without a frame :lol: .

I'm sorry this has happened to you, I hope you can still pastel over it and repair what has been done.

derek123
02-22-2011, 03:59 PM
HAHA! I fixed it! I just pasteled over everything again to darken the darks, soften it, and rebrighten the lights. So it is about 95% as good as it was, and I'll take that over 50% after the spray. I WILL NEVER NEVER NEVER FIX A PASTEL WORK AGAIN! lol. I am using Pastelmat which is AWESOME for photorealism. Thank you so much for your great feedback, it was correct. Happy painting! Derek:clap:

Deborah Secor
02-22-2011, 05:10 PM
With P-mat you don't need fixative, IMHO. Never say 'never', because times change, but honestly, Pastelmat is deep enough that framed correctly you will have no problems.

Some other papers necessitate using fixative, so if you use one of these I suggest testing out different fixatives. For years I used NO fixative at all, then a time came when it was needed and I used Sennelier Fix for Soft Pastels (LaTour).

When SpectraFix (http://www.spectrafix.com/)became available, I switched to that and use it any time I need fixative now. Occasionally in the course of a painting I will isolate the layer with SpectraFix. I love that it's non-toxic and I can spray it indoors with no worries.

No fix is perfect, however...so take care to test it out. Glad it worked out for you this time.

allydoodle
02-22-2011, 05:47 PM
HAHA! I fixed it! I just pasteled over everything again to darken the darks, soften it, and rebrighten the lights. So it is about 95% as good as it was, and I'll take that over 50% after the spray. I WILL NEVER NEVER NEVER FIX A PASTEL WORK AGAIN! lol. I am using Pastelmat which is AWESOME for photorealism. Thank you so much for your great feedback, it was correct. Happy painting! Derek:clap:

Well HAHA to you! Happy you were able to save it. From what I hear Pastelmat is a great surface, which is why you were able to get it back. Yeah!

No more fixative for you! In all honesty, you really don't need it. I have artwork that I've painted over 15 years ago that are as good today as when they were created, and I've never fixed them. This includes works on Canson paper, not just sandpaper. Happy to hear you didn't have to learn the 'hard way'! :clap:

So now go post your masterpiece in the gallery so we can all enjoy it!:thumbsup:

LadyMadonna
02-22-2011, 06:20 PM
This was a great thread for me to read today. I think I finally have a framable pastel and I wanted to give it as gift. The framing shop told me today that I needed to spray it if they were to work on it ..I said I do not think pastels require that . The staff insisted ..I said I would read up on it .and today I have. Thank you so much. I will look for another framer too! I have it saved flat between tracing paper for now. Geez ...this is such an education .

robertsloan2
02-22-2011, 08:47 PM
Yeah, find another framer. I can see why some of them insist on the fixative, it's to cover their possible accidents to the art. But you don't need it when it's on sanded or coated paper. I found that out fast when I first tried Colourfix paper and now I only use fixative if it's in my sketchbook. EVen then I'm more likely to use the SpectraFix. Its main drawback is that it'll dampen the paper so I have to hold it flat while it dries or it curls up.

Deborah Secor
02-22-2011, 11:42 PM
That's right--you don't need to fix your painting! I didn't fix one bit for over 16 years at a stretch (then changed styles and found fixative an interesting addition to the look), but you need a framer who understands how to handle pastels. If it's on a sanded or toothy surface you can put a piece of clean newsprint over the top and carefully burnish the surface with the flat of your hand to push the excess pastel down into the nap or tooth. That will help to minimize loose dust before framing.

vltz
02-23-2011, 08:10 AM
I've been using workable fix on mine without problem -- now I'm curious about why?
V

Lisa Fiore
02-23-2011, 10:03 AM
V--I always spray lightly with Lascaux and have never had a problem either.

allydoodle
02-23-2011, 10:19 AM
I've been using workable fix on mine without problem -- now I'm curious about why?
V



V--I always spray lightly with Lascaux and have never had a problem either.


Probably because it gives you the look you want. There is nothing wrong with fixative if using it achieves what you want, it only becomes a problem when it significantly changes what you had into something you don't want or like. It's not an inferior product, one just has to understand the results you will get when using it, and if it is to your liking, then all is happy in your world. Using it on pastels definitely darkens the whole painting, and the crystals that make up the pastel 'dust' are destroyed, thus you loose that 'glow'. You can add most of the 'glow' back by applying more pastel, just dont 'fix' the painting after the last layer. There is no right or wrong, only what you want to achieve. Which is why it is made, to give the artist yet another tool to create art!

P.S. I used to work in colored pencils, and for that medium it is actually necesssary, as it prevents something called wax bloom. Workable fixative actually enhances that medium, properly protects it, and keeps it from morphing into something else (Wax bloom is when the artwork created with colored pencil, over time, forms a whiteish film, dulling the colors and the artwork in general. Workable fixative prevents that from happening, and preserves the look the artist created.) I do use workable fixative on charcoal and graphite pencil drawings. It keeps the work from smudging, and again, it doesn't change the intended look of the artwork. It definitely has its place, it's a tool to be used by the artist to achieve a look, or to preserve a look, depending on what you want.

Tom Perry
02-23-2011, 11:24 AM
Hi, I just ruined my nice pastel portrait of a dog with workable fixative. The spray darkened the whole thing, and made the fur too contrasted, so that it is not soft anymore but too sharp looking. There are also tiny spray marks on the surface of the background. The spray even blew off some of the background gray pastel revealing the yellow paper underneath. I am going to sell these pastel portraits to people, and I want to fix them, but now I don't know if I should as it totally ruined a good portrait I did. I just sprayed it about 30 minutes ago, so I have hope that it will lighten again and gain its softness, but I don't know if that is going to happen as it is dry to my fingers.

Any help or advice greatly appreciated. Do you fix your pastels? I am using Pastelmat and regular medium pastels and pastel pencils. Thank you.

You can't always blame the mistakes on fixative. I'm fairly certain the problem here was caused by not using the fixative properly. If the spray blew pastel off the ground it was probably because you applied it to close to the surface of your painting. Also by being too close you applied to much.

Fixative is much like any other tool. It takes some practice to use it properly. It's easy to blame your tools for bad results but it won't go far to make you a better painter will it?

JPQ
02-23-2011, 02:32 PM
Now i must search how much framing costs when i make itself it. saddly easily available frames are unsuitable sizes for 50x70cm and 30x40cm (i think is my later pastel paper is about this size) sheets. and inch is 2.54cm. but makes me think also i never use fixatime again. newer get problems but this kind problems sounds very bad.

Lisa Fiore
02-23-2011, 03:20 PM
"V--I always spray lightly with Lascaux and have never had a problem either."

"Probably because it gives you the look you want."

To clarify, what I should have said is that the fixative I use has never darkened my paintings or changed the "look" in any way. I really like and trust the Lascaux product. But again, I use it lightly. :)

JamieWG
02-23-2011, 04:11 PM
If it's on a sanded or toothy surface you can put a piece of clean newsprint over the top and carefully burnish the surface with the flat of your hand to push the excess pastel down into the nap or tooth. That will help to minimize loose dust before framing.

Deborah, thank you for this great tip! I'm going to try it...

Jamie