SpectraFix - Natural Spray Fixative
Natural Milk Casein Pastel Fixative...
Leaves colours brilliant without altering the hue. It dries quickly to an invisible, non-yellowing, matte finish, and provides traction to allow multiple layering of pastels.
Colorless transparency and rapid drying to a water-resistant non-yellowing film are characteristics which makes casein ideal as a pastel fixative. SpectraFix blends art-grade milk casein with water and pure grain alcohol adding a tiny amount of isopropyl alcohol (to please the Federal Government rendering the grain alcohol undrinkable). The alcohol evaporates rapidly taking the water with it, leaving a thin film of casein which quickly dries to a protective matte surface. Even though it is milk protein, it is not subject to invasion by opportunistic organisms, as 9000 years of use as an art medium testifies.
SpectraFix is not packaged in a pressurized aerosol can because the necessary propellant required to eject the fixative may cause unforseeable effects to the pastels, your health and the environment. SpectraFix instead uses a Fine Mist Finger Sprayer, producing a vaporous mist through finger action alone.
Pastel fixatives on the market today use resin varnishes, propellants and other chemicals as solvents, noticeably darkening the value and shifting the hue, as well as posing health concerns. While it is impossible not to affect the delicate powdery colors of pastels with any kind of spray, even plain water, SpectraFix minimally alters a pastel's value, and does not change the hue. Your colors remain fresh and vibrant, even after several layers. We hope that SpectraFix will be embraced by pastel and crossover technique artists for its light touch and strong grip, with no toxic fumes.
Degas used casein as a fixative and a wet medium, of this there is ample evidence. His close friend Henri Rouart stated as much, and Degas‘ friendship with artist Luigi Chialiva, co-creator and patent holder of an early casein-based pastel fixative, supports this. Chialiva's formula is very similar to SpectraFix, but relied on cheaply available methyl alcohol, now known to be poisonous.
SpectraFix has endeavored to bring you a product which respects your art and your health in every way, and allows artists to safely fix their artwork as often as required without interrupting their creative flow with trips outdoors to spray.
SpectraFix is available in two forms: as a 12 oz. bottle of ready-to-spray solution, or as a 2oz. bottle of concentrate to which you may add a high-proof alcohol such as vodka or Everclear. This is ideal for artist travellers who must observe the new restrictions on what you can bring aboard an airplane.
Created by an artist, for artists, we hope you enjoy using this product and are as thrilled with it as we are.
How to Use SpectraFix
Using SpectraFix is easy!
Use it to fix charcoal, pastel, conte, pencil, watercolors, gouache, tempera or on mixed media cross-over techniques without even holding your nose. It is also perfect for use in securing that underpainting layer before you varnish or apply oil paint. It dries to a velvety matte finish within 1 - 2 minutes, so sprayed and unsprayed areas are indistinguishable.
First of all, make sure that you have removed excess charcoal or pastel dust clinging to borders or naked areas which you do not want to be colored by tapping the sheet gently on an edge. Try not to breathe pastel dust. Blowing is not recommended as it makes the dust airborne and the pigments easily work their way deep into lungs.
For thick applications of media, tapping gently on the back will generally remove excess without disturbing your work. Remember, if you are working vertically, the dust does fall downward and will come to rest on the lower areas of your art, so be sure to tap from the top down. Tilting the easel forward while you work can also help in this regard.
Spraying across your artwork at an angle is a great way to maximize the drift of the spray and allow it to fall on the maximum area. Either set your work upright or lay it down. Some artists suggest upright, so that any droplets that form on the nozzle will not fall on your artwork, but on the floor. This is good advice, but may not be pertinent, as our spray nozzles do not drip. You may also consider spraying from two opposing angles to really hold the pastel firmly.
Generally speaking, a light misting on every layer of pastel will help hold the foundational layers better than a final soaking coat. It will also ensure that the painting grips its support from the bottom up, and final layers of color can be added to 'tune' the overall color symphonics at the end.
Soaking layers are fine, but the crystalline powdery pastel will compact a bit more and be slightly less brilliant due to less light penetration between the crystals.
While the casein in SpectraFix does not seem to 'sediment out' over time, if you have let it sit for many weeks, giving it a shaking ensures that the casein is evenly mixed into the solution. If the nozzle plugs up, just scratch it gently with your fingernail or another small object and remove any clots. Then spray again. The alcohol in the formula will dissolve any remaining blockage.