Sunday, November 22, 2009

Preserving My Drawings

I have mentioned before that I have had problems preserving the color in my drawings. After a while (sometimes a few days, sometimes a few weeks) the color in the drawing starts to fade. Especially the dark colors. Sometimes it fades so much, it's really not even worth keeping the drawing because if looks nothing like it originally did. Of course, this is terrible! I can't let all my drawings "die" and have no original drawings to show. So I set out to find a solution. I'm still not sure if I have found it, but so far what I have discovered seems to be working very well (YAY!). So for the time being, I will stick with that.

It was a long journey of testing papers, colored pencils, fixatives, varnishes, and other such things to find out what worked best. The first thing I tried was new paper, because I thought the reason the color was fading was because the wax in the colored pencils didn't like the rough texture of the paper I was using (ColourFix Pastel Card) which feels kind of like sand paper. I tried some other textured papers, Arches Watercolor paper, Canson, but they just didn't have the same effect of popping the colors off the page as the Pastel Card. I also really liked that you could get colored Pastel Card so you can have a dark ground color and work from dark to light instead of the other way around.

After some research online I discovered that some of the fading was due to Wax Bloom. Wax bloom is a white haze that appears on colored pencil drawings, especially when heavily worked, as a layer of the wax medium rises to the surface. It tends to appear once the work has been sitting for a week or two. So after this discovery I decided I couldn't give up on Pastel Card because that probably wasn't the problem. It doesn't matter what kind of paper I used, it was a matter of finding the right fixative to stop the "blooming". So I moved on the trying different fixatives and sprays. I have tested fixatives before and chose Kylon Kamar Varnish, which satisfied me enough, but still didn't really preserve the color like I wanted. After talking to a fellow artist who uses the same Pastel Card as me, I was encouraged to try Blair Clear Matte Spray, which is more of a fixative (even though the can doesn't say it is a fixative). I bought it and tested it out and liked the results better than the Kamar Varnish (there was less glare on the paper). Eureka!!

SO...I have concluded that I will continue to use ColourFix Pastel Card, because I love the texture and how the colors just pop off the paper. I like the dark colored paper so when I add light colors or highlights they REALLY pop! But when I want to do a spot illustration, I will use white Pastel Card and use chalk pastel pencils to put down a ground color only in the areas of the drawing, leaving the area around the drawing white (to match the white of the page). For now, I am using Carb-Othello pastels only because I haven't searched for my favorite brand yet. After finishing a layer of pastel, I will "fix" it with a layer or two of Blair Clear Matte Spray. Then I will go in with my Prismacolored Pencils. Once the drawing is finished, I will fix it again with a layer or two of the Blair spray. Then, I will do a final coat of UV Resistant Clear Coating, which also helps with fading. VoilĂ !! Done, and ready to store with some Vellum paper over it to protect from dust and dirt.

It is very relieving to have found a artistic process from myself, especially after having to watch some of my drawings fade and die right before my eyes.

Here is a (spot) drawing I recently finished using my new process. And I am pleased to say that after 3 weeks, the colors are still just as vibrant as when I first drew it!


aileen said...

Hey, awesome! Yes, your hard work ought to be preserved. Also, have you thought about storage? Do you store in a flat file or protective sleeve? : )

Lauren Gallegos said...

Right now my drawings are in a big portfolio case with vellum paper over each drawing. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to store them?