A while back I purchased a couple of sheets of the latest Colourfix paper. It is a smoother version of the standard paper that was launched by Art Spectrum in 2017
Available colours are the same as the standard Colourfix options which you can view HERE
Art Spectrum® Colourfix™ Smooth is manufactured by screen printing Colourfix™ Smooth Primer onto European Archival 300gsm Hot Pressed watercolour paper making 340gsm pastel paper.
Comparison between the standard Colourfix paper and the smooth version
Below is a magnified image of the Colourfix standard paper versus the smooth surface. As you can see, the standard surface appears quite gritty next to the smooth surface. You can see how the smooth compares to the very popular Pastelmat paper below.
How does the Colourfix smooth compare to Pastelmat?
Here is a magnified image of the Colourfix smooth and Clairfontaine Pastelmat paper comparison. They look and feel exactly the same and I suspect Art Spectrum brought out the Colourfix smooth paper in competition with Pastelmat, knowing how popular the paper is.
Violet flower on Colourfix smooth paper
Having completed a soft pastel drawing on this paper, it reminded me of the popular Pastelmat paper. Pastels go on smoothly and is easy to blend on. As I blend by overlaying pastels rather than using my fingers or tools, this paper makes it easier to do this due to its smoothness, not as easy on the original surface which has more of a tooth. This paper is great for those just starting out with pastels and is suitable for other mediums such as pencils and acrylic paints.
The latest tutorial available on our website, created for inclusion in our autumn newsletter 2020, shows you how to create a Violet flower on the Colourfix smooth paper. Using soft pastels on the Leaf Green Dark tone (you can use any colour surface) we break down the process of base application with pastel blocks to creating the fine details using the PITT pastel pencils (you can use your own pastel range)
**NEW** COLOURFIX™ OPTIMUM BOARD
Loxley spray fixative 200ml is a high quality, colourless, non-yellowing protection medium with UV Filter and is CFC free.
It protects artwork from atmosphere damage caused by moisture and the suns UV rays as well as preventing smudging and is recommended particularly for use on charcoal, pencil, pastel, crayon, chalk drawings and paintings.
This is available in two sizes: 200ml and 400ml.
I have used this product for many years to help seal my graphite and coloured pencil drawings as well as my pastel portraits too. I have tried some other fixatives, but I personally like this one due to the fact that it also includes a UV filter, which offers extra protection. Some fixative nozzles can become blocked which is when spitting happens and this can leave marks on your drawing, particularly noticeable if you use it for your pastel paintings. I have never had that problem with the Loxley one.
When working on my coloured pencil portraits, I sometimes apply a fixative between the layers which helps to extend the working surface and minimise saturation if I have applied a large amount of layers to a particular piece. As the fixative secures previous layers, ensure you have finished blending as you may not be able to do this after sealing it with fixative. In the video above, you can see the Loxley fixative appear in the video showing you where I apply a spray of fixative. There are around 8 or 9 layers on this area alone and as I need to apply highlights to the dark fur, the fixative allows me to do this without muddying the colours. I can then continue with more layers. Once the portrait is complete, I treat it with two layers over the whole of the portrait to minimise smudging and to offer extra protection to the framed portrait, particularly as many people do not choose a UV or museum glass when framing.
If you work with pastels, you may wonder if you should use a fixative on your drawings. Take a look at the comparison photos below and see what may happen if you do. The one on the left is before applying fixative and the one on the right is after. See how the fixative has darkened the colours, creating a more translucent finish. The fixative has dampened the pastel application, causing the darkening of the pastels. This may depend on the pastels you use though as higher quality pastels may not react in the same way as cheaper brand ones due to their being more pigment in them. Many papers, particularly textured ones, do not require a fixative as they hold the pastel well with minimal pastel drop. At the end of the day, the final decision is yours alone.
When spraying, hold the can about 12" away from your upright drawing and spray evenly from top to bottom. It has also been suggested to me that you can turn your drawing 45 degrees and respray, so you are applying a balanced amount over the whole of your drawing. Spray too close and you may create speckling from the aerosol.
Never use hairspray as a fixative. Manufacturers of hairspray make this product for use on hair, not artwork. As hairspray is not acid-free, should you spray it over your artwork, it could cause it to yellow over time. The acid in the hairspray can cause discolouration of the pigment and may also make the paper brittle too. If you have ever used hairspray, you'll note that some can leave a tacky residue behind, not good for your work. It really is better to buy a fixative made for art, which will help protect your work properly for many years.
If you wish to see the final portrait of the Boxer dog being created in the video above, click this link
2020 Art Workshops
Every year I choose 3 or 4 subjects for the Coloured pencil & Graphite pencil workshops which include varying techniques and surfaces to previous years, ensuring each workshop is different to another. Coloured pencil workshops using textured paper are somewhat easier for a complete beginner than the workshops working on smooth paper, however every workshop available can be attended by any artist regardless of their calibre, even if they have NEVER drawn anything since their time at school!
To find out more about our workshops, click any one of the following links to visit the page of interest:
Reviews & Tutorials
Latest product reviews
Derwent released their first 100% lightfast Coloured pencil range this year and I decided to try them out on both smooth and textured surfaces, see how I got on.
The CarbOthello pastel pencils offer 60 vibrant colours and would make a great addition to the colour palette of any Pastellist. Find out more about this range.
In this article, I mixed pencil blend and Derwent Lightfast pencils on both the Pastelbord surface and the Strathmore bristol plate surface, check out the review.
This canvas is an ideal surface for many different mediums, not just pastels and in this article I show what is achievable using Acrylics & Coloured pencils.
New Mini Tutorials
Requested by a 'SBS Art' subscriber, this tutorial shows you how to create depth and movement in water using Coloured pencils. For all art abilities.
Originally published in the USA Colored pencil magazine in 2018, this tutorial explains the process of how to create Blueberries in Coloured pencil. For all art levels.
An in depth guide explaining how to create a dogs eye using Graphite pencils and other accessories that will help you achieve a highly detailed, 3D drawing.
Finally, you can always SUBSCRIBE to our quarterly newsletter, ensuring you receive the very latest articles, delivered straight to your E-mail.
Our 4 latest Articles
New to coloured pencils? Why not view our 'Starting out with coloured pencils' article with some great hints and tips on where to begin, with what to buy and how to use them to their best ability.
If you are a newbie to soft pastels, this simple step by step tutorial explains how to create a tonal sky with the smoothest transitions and may offer you some great pointers to get you started.
Looking for some top quality soft pastels and have your eye on the Unison range but want to know more about them before splashing out? This article may offer you some great information.
Would you like to give oils a try and unsure what you need to get going? This article written by Welsh oil painter Chris Chalk and gives some simple advice to those new to oils.
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Karen M Berisford
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