Testing Pastel Fixative on Watermedia

In this most sophisticated laboratory experiment (buahaha) I wanted to see if my favorite fixative for soft pastels would work for art journaling and waterbased sprays and media.

For those who are new to soft pastels, there is a continuing debate over "Whether to fix, or not to fix, that is the question, dear Watson". Many workable fixatives in readily available spray cans will drastically alter the color and look of the pastels. If the artist is trying to achieve texture and layering, this spray can ruin the texture...AND dull lighter colors.

Several years ago, Spectra-Fix was introduced at IAPS (International Society of Pastel Societies) and was an immediate hit. I wrote a blog post about it...and what I learned from Alan Flattmann about using it. Since my pastel easel and setup are but feet away from my mixed media workstation, it was an easy hop over to nab my mixture. 

On 140# Fabriano watercolor paper I first wet the paper with a spray bottle of water. Next, I dropped and sprayed several different brands of ink and liquid watercolor, and some Tattered Angels and Smooch spray colors. After drying, I masked off the left side and sprayed my Spectra-Fix in two good coats...drying between.

Next, I sprayed with the water bottle again and put some deli paper on top. The un-fixed side pulled some color, while the fixed side only got a bit from the top...probably where I didn't hit the fixative good enough. Next, I re-wet it and used a paper towel this time. Violå! You can see the unfixed pigment stain the towel.

Page two: Get ready for it! I found a new product (to me, anyway) by reading a blog post on Google+ from a friend in England. She was showing her studio space where she used her "Brusho's". After a bit of research, I found that Dick Blick imports these from England...and they are fairly inexpensive. BUT, what FUN! They are highly pigmented watercolor CRYSTALS, about the size of glitter. In addition to all the traditional techniques for watercolor, these add an important ability...sprinkle a few granules into a water puddle and watch it explode onto your paper...reminds me of Fizzy's from 1960's.

The fixing and wetting and blotting process was repeated, with the same results. Spectra-Fix WORKS! AND, you can purchase it in a 3oz concentrate bottle and mix your own as the blog post explains. AND spray right at your workstation.