I've been working a lot with chalk pastels recently. I've been using a little fixative between layers, but I've found that using a final coat of fixative changes my colors and dulls my pieces. Perhaps it's the fixative that I'm using (I do not know the name)... Does anyone have any recommendations of good fixatives or a way to store pastel pieces that would prevent smudging? Or is there something else that I should be putting on as a final?
I personally don't use any fixative at all on my pastel pieces and if I am not framing them right away I store them between sheets of newsprint....
I've been using pastels for quite a few years now and the only thing I find fixatives good for is when a mistake is made, and the paper is in danger of being overworked, I take off as much pastel as I can and use fixative on the paper so that pastel will be able to adhere to it.
some people might tell you different but as far as I'm concerned, fixative only darkens the work to a degree, besides if you are planning on having it framed, a good framer will put a spacer between the work and the mat (hidden inside mat is a good spacer) so a fixative won't be needed. I have bought a good portfolio and have slid my pastel work that i'm not having framed any time soon into the plastic sleeves, I just made sure I have a good sized portfolio to handle the larger paintings.
Allow me to correct something related to pastels. Pastels are NOT CHALK! Chalk is made from limestone. Pastels are made from 100% pure pigment as oils, watercolors. The pigment is held together by a binder nothing more , nothing less.
As for a fixative, I do not use it on my final stages of painting. If one applies pastels with discipline which will not fill up the tooth of the ground. You can apply multi layers of pastels without "fixing." The only time I use a fixative is to set my underpainting or in a correction at early stage of painting. I ship pastel painting all over the country and have not received one complaint from clients. I use Krylon workable fixatif. You can spend more money with Lascaux or Sennelier, I don't.
As for storing pastels and pieces, simply use corn meal. It will keep them clean and separated.
I never use fixative. I've experimented with it in the past and never really liked the results. I like to frame my pieces with spacers and no mat. I've had no problems. Hope this helps. ljgart
Many fixatives WILL darken your lightest colours, or even all of your colours, and you have to be very careful with the final layers of your paintings. Remember that it will be framed behind glass, so that gives permanent protection, but if you spray ANY fixative heavily on your finished work, you WILL darken the picture. Fixative should never be thought of as a varnish....tho many people think of it as just that.
I have recently written a review of a marvellous new fixative, available in the US if you live there, which is based on the formula used by Degas...it is CASEIN based, and its darkening properties are minimal. It is called SPECTRAFIX, you can Google it, to find out more about it. My test pieces changed very little, particularly if the test was on a pastel paper...the ones on pastel board or sandpaper changed slightly more.
It is really a superb product (and no, I have no axe to grind, I dont make it and earn nothing if you buy it! I am just often asked to review pastel products for UK art magazines, as I have written books about pastel painting). It also is NON TOXIC, which is a massive advantage if you suffer with any kind of athsma or problems with inhaling toxic products.
I recommend you give it a try. It is very useful for the "between layers" work, and a light dusting over your finished work will give a tiny bit of protection while the pic is at the framers.
I'm going to try Spectrafix. I hope it works. This was the only answer that differed from what I already tried on my own with asking anyone.