Painter's Magic 8 Ball–All Your Burning Questions Answered

Winter Radiance by Claudia Seymour, 2005, pastel, 15 x 11.  

Winter Radiance by Claudia Seymour, 2005, pastel, 15 x 11.

What sort of fixative, if any, should pastel artists apply to finished works? "Used properly and sparingly, fixative is a godsend," says artist Claudia Seymour. Our experts agree—but they also offer words of caution about using the right materials in a safe environment.


Have a question about painting? Get it answered in the pages of American Artist.

Have you ever wondered whether a specific combination of mediums will work well with a certain type of paint? Not sure about the best way to frame or present your artwork? Need advice on repairing a damaged piece?

Every month, American Artist features a Technical Q+A column, in which our art experts suggest solutions to problems like these. And we want to answer your questions!

  Group of Trees by Gilles-Francois-Joseph Closson, oil on paper mounted to canvas, 14 3/4 x 19 1/8.

Group of Trees by Gilles-Francois-Joseph Closson, oil on paper mounted to canvas, 14 3/4 x 19 1/8.

Mounting paper to canvas used to be a common method painters would use to increase the price at which they could sell their works. But doing this without damaging the work can be difficult.

Post your painting queries, questions, stumpers, and riddles below in the comments section, and we'll submit them to be answered in a future issue of the magazine.

We are going to address as many of them as we can, so feel free to ask technical questions about any part of your artistic process, in any media.


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Austin R. Williams

About Austin R. Williams

Austin is an associate editor of American Artist, Drawing, and Watercolor magazines. His interests include a number of artistic subjects, in particular contemporary drawing, and he is also a lover of literature and movies.  His favorite artists include Durer, Guercino, Degas, Menzel, Cezanne, and Blakelock. His favorite book about art is Michael Frayn's Headlong, and his favorite movie about art is Orson Welles' F for Fake.

4 thoughts on “Painter's Magic 8 Ball–All Your Burning Questions Answered

  1. I suggest contacting each manufacturer through their site. They will probably give you their closest color. I would suggest going to an art store and very gently removing the cap without squeezing the tube and see for yourself. If your even more careful, very gently tap the paint with your pinky finger and smudge it onto a piece of white paper to see how it gradates. If there is oil instead of pigment, skip that tube so you don’t make a mess.

    Also if Grumbacher red works for you, why change brands?

  2. @KatPaints Thanks for the quick response.
    I would like to continue to use Grumbacher red. It’s a great red and it’s exactly what I need. But for some reason the paint drying in the tube a little quicker than I think it should. Maybe I need to contact Grumbacher and ask them if this is characteristic of their Grumbacher red.

  3. @rhoustons, have you considered looking into different mediums or changing the ratio of thinner and oil in your basic medium?
    I personally have some different pigments that dry at different rates, I’ve had to add just a little extra lindseed oil to specific paints.

    Also I have noticed that most of the reds that I come across do tend to dry faster, comparatively. Just as, in most cases, yellows seem to be the slowest driers.