New Materials: Workable Fixatif

As I have written about in my last few entries, painting with watercolor on canvas has been a crash course at the School of Oops. I’ll continue here with notes about my work on the pad canvas.

Despite my decision to use the pad canvas only after affixing individual sheets to stretcher bars, I decided to try it stretched only with clips. Firmly clamped to a backing board, my second sheet of canvas held its shape well and appeared to lose little area due to shrinkage.


In placing the subject, I mentally included the margin space on all sides to allow for later stretching and shrinkage. (Refer to the Faces and Figures gallery to see the finished proportions of “Anticipation.”)

When I applied glazes on this type of canvas surface, I found that lifting was still almost as much of a problem as it had been on the stretched and gessoed canvas (Joe Miller’s brand) I had used previously (see blog for January 1, 2012). So, when I decided I needed a final glaze to warm the foreground, I set the painting aside for several days to dry thoroughly (front and back) before spraying it with fixatif. Only when that was dry did I lay in my last applications of paint.

I had not used this type of fixatif before (Krylon Workable Fixatif), but it was called “workable” and stated that it “allows easy rework.” However, apparently that holds true only for the stated “pencil, pastel, and chalk,” not for watercolor. The watercolor beaded up on the fixed surface, and though I was able to do a bit of retouching, it was not satisfactory.

Out of desperation, I recoated the painting with the varnish (Krylon Gallery Series UV Archival varnish) I had used on my first canvas, hoping that that would provide a more friendly working surface that would accept top coats of watercolor. The paint continued to bead up, failing to adhere smoothly to the surface.

One of the few advantages of the seal appears to be that I can wipe off failed attempts without fear of leaving stains and smears behind.

Another advantage (admittedly a major consideration) is the UV protection it offers for any paintings that will not be shielded by UV-protective glass.

I would be interested to hear from others who may have found alternative fixatifs or sealers over which additional layers of watercolor can satisfactorily be applied.

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