Artist Joanna Hudson reviews the Spectrafix Degas Pastel Fixative, an all-natural, odour-free fixative for pastel and oil pastel, chalk, charcoal and pencil.
The Spectrafix Degas Pastel Fixative is an archival-quality, milk-protein fixative with a number of uses. It can be used to fix and protect finished drawings in pastel, chalk, charcoal, pencil, coloured pencil or oil pastel, and to prevent a preliminary drawing from smudging or running during the application of oil paint.
One of the distinctive uses of Spectrafix is the way it facilitates layering. Most pastel artists will recognise the frustration of working on a page which has become saturated with pastel; Spectrafix can be used to fix and restore friction to a saturated surface, so that additional layers of pastel can be applied.
Spectrafix is not supplied in a pressurised container; it uses a finger-pump. Since the only ingredients are water, grain alcohol and casein (a protein extracted from cows-milk), the spray is non-toxic, almost-odourless, and ecologically sound. This makes it ideal for artists without a studio or a dedicated working-space at home.
Artist Joanna Hudson reviews the Spectrafix Degas Pastel Fixative.
The fact that Spectrafix is safe for use indoors was brought to our notice by one of our customers, Joanna Hudson, who was moved to write a review of the product on our website. We contacted her to find out more about her working methods and about how Spectrafix comes in useful.
“I’ve been making art for around two and a half years. I used to draw when I was a kid but I was discouraged by some hyper-critical schoolteachers, so I gave up until I came across some brilliant classes and teachers online. I love drawing, mixed media and watercolour and I’m trying to improve my acrylics skills at the moment. I use charcoal fairly regularly— I love the impermanence and unpredictability, especially when I’m using very large sticks— although obviously I bought Spectrafix for those times when I actually want something to stay put!
“I used to use Winsor & Newton Artist’s Fixative for pastel, charcoal and pencil. It doesn’t work anywhere near as well— I’ve found even with a couple of coats charcoal in particular has still smudged quite badly. It can’t be used indoors (certainly not in my flat – possibly in a very large, well-ventilated space but even then I wouldn’t recommend it.)
“As I have very limited space, things tend to end up in folders and it’s easy for pastels and charcoal in particular to get smudged. I’ve found thus far that drawings treated with Spectrafix have come out of storage in the same state they went in – even one on cardboard that I’d shoved into a folder with no care at all looks the same. I also liked the idea of being able to fix layers without using mediums or varnish so I could still work over the top of them. Most of those products are quite toxic, so I was very pleased to discover Spectrafix.
“I would recommend two coats, especially if it’s something with thick marks. I also recommend that if you’re spraying charcoal you keep the artwork flat, because it might well run if you don’t!”
Joanna’s original review.
“Non-toxic. Non-stinky. Eco-friendly. Can use it inside (a huge benefit for me as I have no private outside space) and it works! Used on charcoal drawings and a couple of quick sprays and it stays put! I’ve also worked over the top of something after spraying without any problems. I agree with another reviewer who, like me, doesn’t do reviews; this product warrants it.”
We’ve chosen this review as our Review of the Month, and have sent Joanna a Jackson’s Art Supplies voucher.
Click on the underlined link to view Spectrafix Degas Pastel Fixative.
Previously on the Jackson’s Blog: a comparison of the benefits and drawbacks of different fixatives.
Postage on orders shipped standard to mainland UK addresses is free for orders of £39.