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Fixatives: To Seal and Protect
Article 5

Fixatives are a form of spay-on sealant. They are sold in cans like spray paint and formulated specifically for paper and art board. As the title states, the purpose of a fixative is to seal and protect artwork from fading and smudging. It is most commonly used to seal graphite, charcoal, chalk, and oil pastel. If you want to preserve your work be sure and utilize this inexpensive tool.

Fixatives come in two varieties, workable and permanent. Workable fixatives offer the advantage by allowing you to edit your art work even after they are applied. For example, if you have completed a portion of your work and want to prevent smudging, you can seal the finished portion with a workable fixative and then finish the piece. Some workable fixatives even erase and allow editing of the already sealed portion. Permanent (or non-workable) fixatives are used for the protection of finished art work. As the name implies, once treated with these the artwork cannot be edited. You can purchase permanent fixative in either matte or glossy finishes. Even if you use a workable fixative during the creation of your art, it would be advisable to seal it with a permanent, non-workable fixative once it is complete. They should always be applied in a well ventilated area. I usually spray my pieces outside. There are some low oder varities of fixatives avalilable.

Fixatives range in price from 4 dollars up to 15 dollars per can, depending on brand and variety. You can purchase a can of Krylon Workable Fixative at Wal-Mart and art supply stores for between 4 and 5 dollars. When purchasing fixative, be sure the label states that it is clear and non-yellowing. If you are worried the fixative may change the look of your medium, do a few tests on separate paper before applying it to your art work. I have found fixative tends to slightly reduce the reflective qualities of graphite, making the treated piece slightly more matte.

A common myth that has been propagated is that hairspray works as a fixative. This is not the case! It can remain sticky, turn yellow, and ruin your artwork. Please, never use hair spray as a substitute for fixative! Hair spray was meant for hair, not paper. You will not be pleased with the results.

See Many Varieties of Fixatives and Sealants at
Krylon #1306 Workable Matte Fixative

Krylon #1306 Workable Matte Fixative

This clear, matte fixative is easy to work with, dries in seconds, and doesn't wrinkle, smudge, or smear. This fixative gives lasting protection to pencil, charcoal, and chalk, yet erases easily.

Winsor & Newton Artists' Fixative Spray

Winsor & Newton Artists' Fixative Spray

Winsor & Newton Artists' Fixative Spray provides a non-removable, colorless, and transparent finish. Use it on charcoal, pencil, pastel, and chalk drawings. Comes in an aerosol spray can and contains no fluorocarbons.

Blick Fixatives

Blick Fixatives

These mottle-free fixatives are excellent for protecting pastel and charcoal drawings between layers of color. A mottle-free acrylic spray that covers and protects your artwork and prevents smudging. Several coats produce a glossy, bright finish.

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