Portrait Artist Forum    

Go Back   Portrait Artist Forum > Paints, Mediums, Brushes & Grounds

Topic Tools Search this Topic Display Modes
Old 09-23-2009, 03:13 PM   #1
Mike Dodson Mike Dodson is offline
Juried Member
Mike Dodson's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2003
Location: Centreville, AL
Posts: 306
Drawing Fixative used on canvas

I have all of Sanden's books that he has published over the years. He speaks a great deal about his methods and materials. One of his methods that is particularly interesting is that on his commissioned work (not demo's from life) he produces a detailed drawing in graphite directly on a white canvas. Afterwards he sprays the drawing with fixative to prevent smudging ( I assume that is what it is for). Is this layer of spray between the canvas and oil paint stable? I wouldn't even question this if not for the fact that he is one of the most well known and highly acclaimed portrait painter's of our time and must have discovered that this method does not harm the painting.

I would really appreciate someone with knowledge in this area to let me know what is going on here.

  Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2009, 03:39 PM   #2
Allan Rahbek Allan Rahbek is offline
Juried Member
Allan Rahbek's Avatar
Joined: Mar 2004
Location: 8543-dk Hornslet, Denmark
Posts: 1,642
I have often used the fixative when I do a charcoal drawing before painting and I have never experienced any problems.

The fixative is the type used on pastel drawings, it is not fatty in any way.

I believe that the oil, in the paint, will penetrate both the drawing and the fixative and in that way include the drawing into the oil paint itself.
Allan Rahbek
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2009, 06:52 PM   #3
Michael Georges Michael Georges is offline

FT Professional
Michael Georges's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: Loveland, CO
Posts: 846

I would steer you away from using graphite as it can leech through paint layers and/or cause adhesion issues under oil paint.

I would instead advise drawing in charcoal and fixing it with a quality retouch varnish. Much more compatible with oil paint.
Michael Georges
Michael's Life Drawing & Painting Blog

Regular and consistent work from life will improve your portraits.
Drawing skills are the foundation of all an artist does.
  Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2009, 09:34 AM   #4
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
Juried Member
Joined: Oct 2002
Location: Lincoln, NE
Posts: 260
In the "for what it's worth" department, I know an artist who draws with vine charcoal on his canvas with a rather light pressure. When he's satisfied with his drawing, he goes over it with more pressure and harder charcoal. Then, he removes as much of the charcoal as possible using soft rags. What is left is a ghost image, which he then restates using dark paint with a somewhat small (fine point) brush.
  Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2009, 01:53 PM   #5
Richard Bingham Richard Bingham is offline
Juried Member
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Blackfoot Id
Posts: 431
Michael G. is correct that graphite (due to the "platelet" nature of its structure) can eventually "strike" through paint layers, becoming visible at the surface. It's possible an isolating layer of "fixative" might stop that from happening, but it would be better to use drawing materials known not to strike . . . e.g. charcoal (vine or compressed), Nupastel, Stabilo pencil, all "stay put" when overpainted with oils.

It's problematic to refer to "fixative" as if it were always a specific material of known composition and properties. Most commonly marketed aerosols are nitrocellulose lacquer. As you might expect, there's a fairly wide range of formulae for pastel or charcoal fixatives, almost all are "spirit" (alcohol) soluble, which qualifies them as an "isolation layer" when used with oil paints. Most are insoluble in oil, turps or MS.

I believe Allan is correct to say the overpainting will penetrate a drawing under fixative, since in this case, it's unnecesary (and inadvisable) to apply fixative so heavily as to isolate the ground entirely.

Using fixative over a preliminary drawing is a matter of personal preference. Sanden may wish to be able to remove initial paint applications without disturbing the drawing, or he may simply object to the pencil marks "lifting" enough to discolor his paint, or perhaps having tested his materials and methods, he is satisfied graphite will not strike by doing so.

There may be an even greater number of respected painters who start to paint directly on a ground than those who begin over a detailed drawing.

Abbey, Parrish, Rockwell, and numerous other painter/illustrators of their era commonly used shellac as an isolation layer over preliminary drawings and between paint applications. Some of their paintings are in pretty bad shape, at a relatively "young" age, which might suggest that the use of isolating layers was the cause . . . or not?
  Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2009, 03:45 PM   #6
Mike Dodson Mike Dodson is offline
Juried Member
Mike Dodson's Avatar
Joined: Feb 2003
Location: Centreville, AL
Posts: 306
Thanks to all of you for your input. Much to consider here!
  Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing this Topic: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Topic Tools Search this Topic
Search this Topic:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Topics
Thread Topic Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Unstretchable brittle Claessens Canvas Mark Lovett Paints, Mediums, Brushes & Grounds 5 11-15-2006 01:05 PM
Synthetic canvas instead of linen or cotton canvas. Xander Calceta Paints, Mediums, Brushes & Grounds 0 01-02-2005 11:38 AM
Transferring drawing to canvas Matthew Severson Techniques, Tips, and Tools 4 03-14-2004 10:10 AM
Using "Keys" to (Re)Stretch Canvas Steven Sweeney Techniques, Tips, and Tools 6 02-05-2003 09:42 PM
So you wanna be a pro? Karin Wells Old Master Copy Critiques 51 04-13-2002 04:02 AM


Make a Donation

Support the Forum by making a donation or ordering on Amazon through our search or book links..

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:12 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.