The use of fixatives on pastel paintings is a much-debated point among pastelists. Some artists feel that fixatives darken and dull the colors in the painting and therefore will not use them. Others feel that fixatives used properly avoid that pitfall and further, can be used effectively as a tool to create an impasto effect or to create scumbling textures.

There are two different types of fixative: workable fixative and final fixative. For both, it is important to do light layers, first in one direction and then in another, letting the layers dry between applications.

Workable fixatives (such as Krylon) are mainly used on a work in progress. If the 'tooth' of the paper is fillig up with pastel, workable fixative will allow the build-up of more layers. Fixative can be sprayed in just a small area or over the whole painting Always spray fixative outdoors because of the toxic odor and be careful that you do not splatter or cause dripping (unless, of course, you are going for that effect). 

Prismacolor Tuffilm (recommended by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC) and Lascaux are final fixatives, used on a finished painting to hold the pastel pigment in place. Used properly they will not darken the colors. Remember, however, that no amount of fixative can completely protect pastel paintings until they are framed under glass.






Posted over 3 years ago
Not heard of any problem with terpenoids or rubbing alcohol affecting the archival quality of pastel papers. Apparently there was some problem with Kitty Wallis paper but that paper seems to be unavailable now anyway. Like you, can find no info on the web concerning this issue so I would say there isn't one or you'd find some evidence of it on the web.

Posted over 3 years ago
Hello. I am relatively new to pastels and have tried to do some research online regarding the use of terpenoids or rubbing alcohol to "spread" out chalk pastel as a smoother underpainting. I am concerned on how the chemical nature could compromise the archival quality of the paper? Is there any info on this? I was unable to find anything online and am moving towards not using anything but the pastel itself. Thanks for any thoughts on this. :)


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