Fixatives “fix” your drawing to its surface and can be a helpful tool in the development of your artwork. 

Hi my name is Carrie and I want you to proudly call yourself an artist. Here on Artist Strong we help artists like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today I want to talk all about using fixative in your art.

Fixative generally comes as a spray in a can and help hold, or “fix,” your drawing in place on your substrate.

For example, if you draw on your canvas before you paint it can be really handy to spray it with fixative and let it set before you apply paint. This prevents the graphite from moving and smudging into your pigment, muddying your colors and showing through in the final artwork.

It’s also really helpful for pencil work, colored pencils, charcoal, and pastels. (I’m sure I missed a few here, be sure to add them in the comments below).

In my recent work in colored pencil, I sometimes spray the pencil drawing and base sketch before adding any color to again keep my pigments clean and help cover those initial marks.

You can get both workable fixative and finishing fixative spray. For the conversation we are having today I’m speaking mostly to my use of workable fixative, which allows me to spray and then add more marks on the surface after it cures/dries. A final fixative coat works similarly, you only put in on at the very end to help fix your marks to the surface and limit smudging, staining, or other possible damage to your drawing.

It’s important to follow the directions on the can. They often ask you to shake it for two minutes. Set a timer on your tablet or phone and get shaking. Enlist a loved one if necessary, but the instructions are there for a reason (I’m looking at you, my rebel artists). 

When you spray its important to be in a well ventilated space and if you do this indoors, be sure to obtain a quality mask. You will have the opportunity to make more art in your life if you take care of your lungs. I always spray my work outside and when I’m done I bring it to my laundry room where I can turn on the fan to vent any remaining fumes to the outside. I leave it there overnight when I can.

When I apply the spray I always start the spray off of the paper or canvas, otherwise the material can pool and stain and your surface. We don’t want any ugly splotches that ruin the project or that we struggle to cover up! Some goes for when you complete spraying, always finish the spray off of your substrate (the surface you’re spraying).

I like to spray vertically and then horizontally to help remove any suggestion of lines from the spray, then I life the can upside down and press the nozzle until the spray head is empty. Then its ready to return to your home somewhere safe and cool. These materials can be hazardous to your health and flammable, so once again, please refer to the instructions listed on your specific spray can, because it may have slightly different instructions than the ones I offer you today.

Brands I have  personally used include Krylon and Daler-Rowney, which I’ll link as affiliate links below.

Today’s sponsor is a little different, it’s my friend’s course called Finish Strong.  Walk away from this affordable training with clear examples of what does and does not work when it comes to finishing off or sealing your mixed media artwork.

Additionally, you’ll have an easy-to-follow system of testing your own mediums before using them for any products not covered inside Finish Strong

Basically, if you want to see how different mediums work, what kind of finishes different varnishes and fixatives give you, check out my friend’s class. She has done all of that work for you! And as of this recording it’s only 27 dollars. I’m a proud student and affiliate of her mini-course. To learn more and sign up I will link her course below this video. Please message me if you can’t seem to find the link.

I hope this gets you started exploring other tools, such as fixative, in your arsenal for making better art. Thank you so much for watching, please like, share and subscribe and please tell me in the comments your questions or best practice for using fixative spray in your art.

Remember: proudly call yourself artist. Together we are Artist Strong.