The Proper Way to Preserve Oil Pastel Based Drawings

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Oil pastels have been in use for a very long time now, more commonly known as wax oil crayons, oil pastels are similar to Japanese and French pastel sticks, but they lack the softness of pastel sticks. Oil pastels have a non-drying oil in their base, this prevents them from becoming powdery once applied and also makes them more firm, the result being a more easier to work with medium. However, oil pastels are harder to blend than soft pastels, and since they consist of non-drying oil, the biggest problem with oil pastels is of preservations.

Once applied to a surface, oil-pastels never fully dry, meaning that they can become smudged or distorted if touched, people often have a hard time displaying oil pastel based art since its longevity is quite uncertain. Due to their nature, oil pastels also do not respond too well to fixative sprays, most conventional fixatives or varnishes are not capable of completely drying them out, even after multiple coats have been applied. Oil pastels can be bothersome when it comes to preserving them, but they are incredibly fun to use and can allow an artist to bring spectacular images to life.

If you are having trouble with preserving an oil pastel based work then fear not, with a bit of patience and care you can protect your work better. There exist fixative sprays that are designed specifically for oil pastel use, while they do not provide perfect results, they can make your drawing less prone to smudging. Another way to protect your work is to have it framed and covered with glass, however this might put a damper on your drawing’s look.

The best way to preserve your drawing is to use specific oil pastel fixatives, traditional fixatives are known for altering the colours of oil pastels so you need to be careful when picking a fixative for use. There are some brands that promise no discoloration but just to be safe, one should test different fixatives on smaller samples before deciding to coat your latest work in them. To make things more complex, oil pastel fixatives behave differently depending on the type of paper you use, meaning that uniformity will be hard to achieve.

If the gamble of using fixatives does not appeal to you, then you might want to consider using acrylic varnish, this will provide a basic amount of protection since acrylic varnish does not mix well with oil based mediums, but it can provide your drawing with a nice finish. If you are really bent on preserving your oil pastel drawing, then the safest option you have is to take a glass frame, have it double matted to ensure that the glass does not come into contact with your drawing and then place your drawing inside of it. One of the most important factors in preserving oil pastels is to take extra care of your work and make sure that you interact with it as little as possible once you are done with it.

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