Understanding the Fragility of Soft Pastel Artwork
Soft pastel artwork is known for its vibrant colors and delicate texture. However, because the medium is made up of pigment powder held together by minimal binding agents, it is highly vulnerable to smudging, smearing, and fading. Therefore, it is crucial to seal and protect soft pastel artwork to ensure its longevity and preserve its original beauty.
Choosing the Right Fixative
To seal soft pastel artwork, you will need a fixative. A fixative is a liquid spray that acts as a protective layer, preventing the pastel particles from rubbing off. When selecting a fixative, opt for one that is specifically formulated for pastels. Some fixatives are formulated to enhance and accentuate the colors, while others provide a matte or gloss finish. It is advisable to test the fixative on a small section of your artwork before applying it to the entire piece to ensure compatibility.
Preparing Your Artwork for Sealing
Prior to applying the fixative, it is essential to prepare your artwork. Start by gently brushing off any loose particles or excess dust using a soft brush or a clean, lint-free cloth. Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors to avoid inhaling any fumes from the fixative spray. Cover your work surface with a clean sheet or newspaper to protect it from overspray.
Applying the Fixative
When applying the fixative, hold the spray can approximately 12-18 inches away from the artwork and spray in a sweeping motion. Start from the top of the artwork and work your way down, making sure to cover the entire surface evenly. It is better to apply several light layers of fixative rather than one heavy coat to avoid saturating the pastel and causing it to lose its vibrancy. Allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next. Remember to shake the can well before each use to ensure proper mixing of the fixative.
Additional Protection Measures
While a fixative provides a protective layer, it may not be sufficient for long-term preservation. To further protect your soft pastel artwork, consider framing it behind glass. A glass frame will shield the artwork from dust, humidity, and potential physical damage. Use acid-free matting to prevent contact between the artwork and the glass, as acidity can cause discoloration over time. If you prefer not to use glass, you can opt for a spray-on varnish that provides UV protection and acts as a barrier against environmental factors.