Q: Is there a spray fixative for watercolor paintings, and if so, should I use it?
A: There is no fixative for watercolors. Fixatives are
primarily used for four purposes: 1) to allow the piece to repel dirt
and allow for light cleaning; 2) to make it glossy; 3) to affix the
pigment onto the surface; and 4) to prevent the pigments from fading.
Fixative does not work in this manner when applied to watercolor, so it
would be wise to consider other options. Fixative would not allow a
watercolor painting to be cleaned nor would it protect it from dirt as
well as a frame with glass. Because watercolor paints stain the paper
and the pigment does not tend to flake off as it does with pastels or
with drawing media such as charcoal, fixative is not needed in between
applications of paint, or when a work is finished. One of the strengths
of watercolors is their delicate, matte finish, so if one wants a
glossy finish, acrylic paints would be a better choice. And even a
fixative formulated to protect a piece from ultraviolet rays would not
completely prevent a watercolor from fading.