Day 32 My Book: “The Pastel Palette Method” Do You Need Fixative for a Pastel Painting?

Fixative is No Real Fix
Many people have asked me over the years whether or not I use a fixative on my completed pastel paintings.
In an earlier chapter I had mentioned that I use a workable fixative in emergencies when the painting’s surface becomes overloaded during the painting process. That is as far as I will go when it comes to the use of fixative in my studio. Here are the two reasons why I don’t use fixative to preserve my pastel paintings.
The first reason, is that the fixative will darken all the values of your painting and the pastel loses the vibrancy of the pure pigments. The spray fixative is applied in a wet spray that causes this darkening down of the values even after it dries. You most certainly will need to reintroduce the lights and highlights on your pastel painting for a second time. My feeling is, why paint it twice if you don’t need to?
The second reason, is that the fixative spray creates a uniformed texture to your pastel pigments. The hard work that the artist does to create a variety of textures such as hair or skin, is negated by this uniform texturing of the fixative.
Lastly, if you frame your pastel painting correctly, which I will go over later in this book, your pastel painting will look as vibrant and fresh as the day you painted it. This can always be done without fixative.
You may also check out my YouTube channel where I give free demonstrations and tutorials in a variety of mediums including pastels:

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