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Using fixative on oil

If I have an oil primed linen canvas with the quick dry white/b. umber oil mixture covering can I spray fixative to set a charcoal drawing? Just want to make sure I can spray fixative onto an oil base.


  • @Ronna I've known many illustrators, including myself. that have used fixative without incident with oils. Just like @Kingston I use and prefer pastel now because it seems to dissolve leaving no evidence that it was ever there.
  • I am pretty impressed with charcoal's ability to keep a line when it is transferred. If it's transferred to an oil ground and you don't paint right away, it stays put even better. I'm uncertain how it will behave if you actually draw on the surface. I haven't done that because I'm a real messy with charcoal.
  • Thank you @Kingston, @MikeO, @MeganS. I was watching David Gray's youtube video called Painting the Portrait. He drew using vine charcoal then sprayed it with a fixative. I usually outline my lines with thin b.umber but thought this method could be fun to try.
  • Ronna

    I noticed that Gray brushed off most of the charcoal, leaving only light lines to then rebuild a more refined drawing. So he works from a rough straight line envelope (ebauche) - erase - to draw a more accurate shape with curves - erase - to end up with the third version of a really accurate drawn outline with perspective, curves and proportions. Such a method would be quite difficult with a pencil.

    The benefit in the fixative is that you can wipe off the oil paint to redo parts of the image or just to check that you haven't bumped the painted edge too far off the drawing.

    I used to use a pressure pack mat workable fixative, but needed outside ventilation for application and drying. I then found a water based sprayable Binder Medium by Atelier that solves this problem. I also have a clear gesso but not used it yet.


  • David Gray used that in his past paintings I believe. He now uses an oil transfer and no longer uses a fixative. I tried the oil transfer and disliked it. I just use the charcoal now. I also use white charcoal for the dark grounds. Works really, really well. Here is a detail of a painting I'm currently working on. It has one layer of underdrawing and the leaves have overpainting done. Can you see the vase and the ribbon lines? They are still crisp even after putting a layer of paint with some OMS in it. image
  • Thank you Denis and Megan for your input. I appreciate it!
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