Paintbrush Care and How to Clean Paintbrushes

Note: Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you use my affiliate link. Thanks for supporting this site. Full disclosure policy here.

Let’s talk about brush care.

Help your brushes to help you.

A good paintbrush is a joy to use. That immensely satisfying sweep of colour, or the finest line from a beautiful tip. So it pays to look after our brushes, keeping them in tip-top condition for as long as possible.

We’ve already looked at brush storage in a previous post, so now let’s look at how to care for our brushes before we put them away. Doing so improves your painting experience and saves you having to replace a brush earlier than necessary.

The first thing to do is to cherish your brushes. I’ve been teaching art for decades, and I’ve noticed a whole host of issues that have a direct impact on a brush’s performance and longevity. So that means, if you’re guilty of any of these: please STOP!


  • Keep using it when it’s plainly past its best. I’m thinking watercolour here. That beautiful tip that gave such fine lines just doesn’t quite do it any more. You’ve tried cleaning and re-shaping, but that’s still not enough. Time for a new brush. I recommend these if your budget will stretch to it, or these are a slightly more affordable option. Both are superb.
  • Throw it away – some old and worn brushes make fantastic marks that a new one just can’t. So don’t discard them. They’re worth keeping to bring texture and liveliness to particular areas of your paintings. I use an old hogs hair brush for creating fur texture. The worn and splayed bristles make it perfect for that purpose.
  • Give it to a child. When I worked in art education we were often donated art materials that the giver had inherited. Usually brushes that had been used for oils and were worn down and hadn’t been cleaned in decades. I applaud the wish to encourage the next generation of artists, but if an adult can’t make it work, how do we expect a child to do so? If you would like to encourage upcoming artists, helping at your local school or donating to the fabulous charity Arts Emergency are great ways to do just that.
  • Clean the dust off your tech. OK, guilty as charged. I do this, but only with an old soft brush that’s proven useless for anything else. And that’s all I use it for.
  • Scrub with it. Unless it’s an old brush used for scumbling technique for oils and acrylics.
  • Use it for anything other than fine art e.g. painting the fiddly bits when decorating, creosoting the fence, make up, cake decorating…. In the years I’ve been teaching I’ve heard of my students doing all of those and more. Don’t tell, but I used to hide the best watercolour brushes from other staff members!
  • Use it for both oils and water-based media. You’re at risk of ruining your painting through cross contamination. Oil and water don’t mix, so a slick of residual oil on your acrylic or watercolour can ruin the whole painting. Keep separate sets of brushes, if at all possible.
  • Let paint dry on it. Less of an issue with watercolour or gouache than other media, but a habit it’s best to avoid. Doing so with acrylic can spell the end for your brush. anyway, how would you like to go without a wash at the end of your day?
  • Put it in your mouth or lick it. Eeew! Paints are much safer these days than historically, but they are still chemicals that you wouldn’t want to eat. Putting anything that’s been touching cadmium in your mouth is a definite no. (Find cadmium-free paints here.) Van Gogh used to put his paintbrushes in his mouth, and look what happened to him! His paints were lead-based, and lead poisoning has a proven negative affect on mental health.
  • Stand it on its bristles in a water pot. This is my biggest gripe with paintbrush abuse, and one I often see from students. How would you like to be left upside down in a bucket of water? Well your favourite brush doesn’t like it either. Why not? Because water seeps into the wooden handle, which expands and cracks the varnish. The varnish flakes off until you’re left with a plain wooden handle and a loose ferrule. It also spoils the tip and causes the bristles to bend out of shape. Let’s get out of that habit, pleeeeease. I’m beseeching you.
damaged paintbrushes

So that’s got the negative stuff out of the way. Let’s look at some good habits instead.


  • Discard the protective tube that covers the bristles of a new brush. It’s only for the initial protection in transit, not for repeated use. Tightly covering damp brush hairs encourages mould. Yuk! Let your brushes breathe.
  • Rinse a new brush before use. This will remove the protective Gum Arabic the manufacturer applied.
  • Use an older brush or a knife to mix your paints, and keep the newer brushes for applying paint. This will protect that all-important tip, especially with natural hair brushes.
  • Clean your brush regularly. First wipe off any excess paint off the brush onto a newspaper or rag. Now give it a good swish around in water (or your cleaning medium, if you’re using oils). Check, by wiping the brush on a clean piece of kitchen roll, that there’s no paint clinging to the bristles. Wash again if necessary, making sure the bristles are clean right down to the ferrule. Now you’re ready for fresh, clean colour.
  • Give your brushes a periodic clean with a good brush cleaner. Even if you’re careful to clean your brush as you use it, over time paint can build up and bristles can become stained. Using a good brush cleaned can revitalise your brush and bring it back to an almost-new condition.
  • Use a brush cleaner if you’ve accidently allowed acrylic or oil paint to dry on your brush. Even if your brush is rock hard with paint residue, a good brush cleaner will bring it back to life. I use The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver, which looks similar to soap, and has saved many a brush over the years. Simply dampen the brush, work the cleaner into the bristles (right down to the ferrule), and then rinse. Repeat until the lather is uncoloured by paint and the bristle are back to their usual condition.
  • Clean and condition your brushes if you know you won’t be using them for a while. Off on holiday? Busy on a different project? Sometimes life gets in the way of our painting. Clean your brushes with brush cleaner, but reshape and allow the cleaner to dry on the bristles. It will help protect the bristles until you’re ready to paint again. Then just rinse them off, and you’re good to go.
  • Reshape your brushes after use. Once you’ve finished your painting session, clean and reshape the brush. The bristles will dry in their perfect shape, and you’ll be pleased you took the trouble when you come to use it next time.
  • Use water to clean an acrylic brush. Some brushes are designed for use with acrylics, but their shape and spring would make them great for oils. Beware though, cleaning with a solvent can dissolve the glue that hold the bristles in place, resulting in major fall-out. Liquitex paddle brushes are a good example of this. They’re wonderful brushes, but always clean them with water.
  • Flick your brush to re-shape it. A beautiful sable or along-bristled sword-liner can be reshaped, while the bristles are wet, by holding the end of the handle and giving a sharp flick of the wrist. The bristle will naturally revert to the original shape, without the need to reshape with your fingers.
  • Reshape a synthetic brush by holding it in a cup of boiling water for just 30 seconds.
  • Store your brushes upright with the bristles pointing upwards, while you’re not using them. Once thoroughly dry you can store them in a case.
  • Store brushes away from direct sunlight and extremes of temperature.
  • Teach children how to care for their brushes. It’s easier to learn a new habit from the outset than it is to break a bad one.
Two similar paintbrushes, one cleaned with brush cleaner.

Two synthetic sword-liner brushes, similar in age, usage and scruffiness. Same brand, same range, same size.

The one on the right has been cleaned with brush cleaner. The other obviously hasn’t.

As you can see, taking care of your brushes pays dividends. A cherished brush performs better and lasts longer, making your painting experience more enjoyable and costing you less. What’s not to love?

It’s just about getting into good habits, and knowing how to make amends when the occasional disaster strikes. A ruined brush definitely counts as a disaster in my opinion, especially if it’s a favourite.

So I hope this post has been helpful, and will encourage you to look after your brushes. Your paintings will thank you.

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Are You Using Your Ruling Pen to its Full Potential?

Note: Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you use my affiliate link. Thanks for supporting this site. Full disclosure policy here.

There’s a piece of art kit that you may own, but be under-utilising.

It could be the answer to your fine-line prayers.

Do you ever have difficulty in painting very thin lines, especially long ones? Think grass stems, whiskers on cats, geometric outlines, mooring lines on ships and boats….

If so, there’s a piece of kit that could solve all your problems. Read on:

There are various ways to paint very thin lines:

  • Fine brush – their very few bristles means they make thin lines but won’t hold a lot of paint, so only suitable for short lines or the paint will run out mid-stroke.
  • Rigger brush – longer bristles which hold a lot of paint so more suitable for longer lines. Traditionally used for painting the fine lines of ships’ rigging on marine paintings.
  • Sword-liner brush – even longer bristles, so great paint-holding capacity with a fine point. Ideal for the longest and finest lines. (See my Sword-liner brush post here)

Some people, who struggle to paint a very fine line with a brush. feel more comfortable using fine liner pens to achieve very thin lines. This works, but it’s not an option I like, as you end up with a line that’s a totally different medium than the rest of the painting. You can’t change the colour either, so if you want to match a colour they’re useless.

There is another option: a ruling pen. These are often sold solely as tools for applying masking fluid, as you can see here. This irks me, as it doesn’t make people aware of the many other possibilities. A ruling pen will do so much more.

Ruling pens are traditionally a drawing office tool. You may already have come across ruling pen lines on the mounts of historic watercolours. So the ruling pen was designed for making very thin lines of a consistent width, which made it an ideal tool for modifying mounts with watercolour.

You don’t need to stick to watercolour, and you don’t need to stick to mounts. I’ve used a ruling pen with drawing ink, watercolour, gouache, enamel and acrylic ink. As long as you have fluid colour, you can use a ruling pen. This means your medium will match that of your painting, and you can even mix colours to match other parts of your image when necessary.

Filling a ruling pen

To fill a ruling pen, adjust the jaws with the screw so there’s just a small gap at the tip. Now load your brush with liquid colour and wipe it across the jaws in a direction perpendicular to the handle of the pen. The paint will fill the gap between the jaws. Finally, adjust the jaws to the width you need. Test on a piece of scrap paper in case the colour blots initially.

Dipping the pen into the ink bottle would result in the jaws of the pen being covered with colour that drips onto your work. Definitely not what we want, so do use a brush to fill your pen.

To use the pen, hold it so that the gap between the jaws is facing up towards the ceiling and the adjustment screw is facing away from you. Make sure that both jaws are touching the support, or you won’t get a clean line. Now draw the pen to the right, assuming you’re right-handed.

Try your pen with different media to see you it behaves. Use a ruler or go freehand. Try a way line or a straight line. Make some dots. It’s fun, and you’ll soon find out what your pen will do, and what it won’t.

Using a ruling pen

The line thickness can vary from about 1.5mm to a fraction of a millimetre.

Anything thicker than 1.5mm is problematic, because by then the jaws are quite far apart. You’d need to fill the pen with quite a lot of colour to stop it running out mid stroke, but then gravity causes the paint to drip out of the end when the pen is upright. This risks a drop of colour falling on your work, which is obviously not what we want.

“Use thicker paint!”, I hear you say. You could, but that won’t flow as well as fluid colour. As neither blots nor thicker paint are desirable, it’s better to use a brush for thicker lines and keep the pen for thinner lines.

If you’re drawing a straight line with a ruling pen and a ruler, my top tip is to put a thin piece of card under the ruler. This holds the ruler slightly above the surface so paint doesn’t seep underneath. Yes, I know we rarely use a ruler in art, but there are times when it’s useful.

Using a mountboard off-cut (the type discarded by picture framers) also works well as a straightedge, as the bevelled edge forms a space next to the wet colour.

We can also use a ruling pen freehand. It takes a little practice to get a smooth line instead of a wobbly one, but it’s perfectly possible as we’re all more comfortable with using a pen than a brush.

The only slight disadvantage is that the line is of a consistent thickness, rather than tapering naturally as a brush stroke would do. If you vary the speed with which you use the pen, you can vary the thickness slightly, giving a more interesting quality of line.

Ruling pens are great for creating any thin lines, such as:

  • Lines to modify mounts
  • Detail on ships, trains, buses and cars
  • Fine hairs and whiskers on animals
  • Architectural detail, such as window frames and stonework
  • Plant stems
  • Thin lines of highlights, especially on images showing backlighting
  • Lettering
  • Geometric designs

Some compasses are designed to take a ruling pen attachment, so that’s well worth investigating if curved lines are a feature of your art.

I used a ruling pen, filled with acrylic ink, on this display panel.

Display panel with ruling pen usage
In this acrylic painting I mixed acrylic ink to the right shade of green and used it with a ruling pen for the thin strands of fennel. I also used it on the straight edges of the lettering.
Detail of previous image

Here’s a close-up.

You can imagine this would be a challenge with a brush.

Notice how the width of line and tone can be varied to create a sense of depth.

A good ruling pen is robust and well made. Mine has lasted for decades, so it’s not a piece of kit that needs replacement, unless you treat it very harshly.

Cross hinged ruling pen showing jaws in open position

This is a piece of kit that won’t break the bank. The budget versions cost less than £5, but if possible I suggest you treat yourself to a better quality, and if possible a cross-hinged version.

Those have jaws that open sideways, whereas the budget versions can only be widened or narrowed. The cross-hinged ones are much easier to clean than the ones where the jaws are fixed. They’re a little more expensive at around £10, but well worth it in my opinion.

Of course, clean your pen after every use, to prevent build up of dried paint. You want the colour to flow cleanly and evenly from the jaws, and it won’t do that if the ends are clogged with dried paint from previous sessions.

The edges and dividing lines in this painting needed to be very precise, so I used a ruling pen with watercolour. I’m glad I didn’t have to make those lines with a brush!

Owls of Ancient Egypt painting
Owls of Ancient Egypt

More top tips

  • Load your pen away from your work. If it drips or spatters it won’t damage your work.
  • Use a Flow Medium with acrylic to help the colour flow if you don’t have acrylic ink.
  • Test the colour and the line thickness before you start work on your actual painting.
  • Treat your pen with care. Chipped or damaged jaws will result in a patchy line. So keep it separate from your pencil case, preferable in a protective case.
  • Load your pen with colour and then with a second colour. The line will change gradually from the first colour to the second.

I hope this post has been an eye-opener if fine lines have been a struggle for you. A ruling pen isn’t something I use for every painting, but in certain circumstances it has been far and away the best tool for the job.

Oh, and you can also use ruling pens for masking fluid.

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How To Use Acrylic Mediums

Note: Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you use my affiliate link. Thanks for supporting this site. Full disclosure policy here.

Selection of acrylic mediums.

There are zillions of acrylic mediums on the market.

What do they do, and how do we use them?

Acrylics mediums. Those pots and tubes lined up on the art shop shelves, with strange or enticing names: Clear Tar Gel, Flexible Modellling Paste, Black Lava Gel, Pouring Medium. 

What are they? What do they do? How do you use them? Perhaps you’ve looked, in wonder or confusion, at the dauntingly large range on offer.

Mediums enhance your creativity. They can be an adjunct to your current practice, such as thickening your paint to add more texture, or they can inspire a whole new style of work through their own exciting possibilities.

You may have experienced acrylic mediums already. Perhaps a retarding medium to keep your acrylics workable for longer, or a gloss medium to stick down a piece of collage.

What exactly is an acrylic medium?

The easiest way to think of acrylic mediums is that they are paint without the colour. When we buy a tube of paint, we’re buying a combination of mainly:

  • Pigment
  • Acrylic polymer emulsion resin
  • preservative
  • pH stabiliser

So a medium is the same ingredients without the pigment and with the addition of another additive to give the medium a particular quality, perhaps a thickening agent, granules or a matting agent.

As they are effectively the same ingredients, mediums are compatible with any of your acrylic paints. Since they don’t contain pigments, mediums are generally more cost effective than paints, though they can appear expensive in large quantities. So if you need to apply paint to a large area, mixing it with a gel medium can bulk out the paint without changing the colour.

Usually all you need to do to apply the medium is to use a brush or a knife to spread the medium on the support. Alternatively, you can mix the medium with the paint before applying it. I often have a small pool of medium on my palette and mix a little with my colour as necessary during the painting process.

Each medium has specific qualities:

  • Lustre: gloss, semigloss or matt
  • Opacity: opaque, transparent or translucent
  • Viscosity: from a thick paste to a thin liquid
  • Rheology: able to hold their shape, or self-levelling
  • Texture: the medium includes granules, fillers, or fibres

Let’s look at three common mediums, each with a different lustre.

spots of Gloss medium, Regular Gel, Texture Paste
L-R: Gloss medium, Regular Gel, Texture Paste

Gloss Medium is a thick liquid that will make your paint shiny and more transparent. It’s self-levelling, so pour some on your surface and it will form a pool. It’s also great for using as a glue if you’re using collage techniques in your work. Transparent mediums are generally milky colour when wet but become clear as they dry.

Regular Gel is a translucent gel, thicker than Gloss Gel. It holds the shape of the knife, like Heavy Body acrylic paint.

Texture Paste is a similar thickness to Regular Gel, but it’s matt. If using canvas, Flexible Modelling Paste is a better choice. Being white and opaque, texture pastes lighten the paint colour when you mix the two together.

All of them dry to a hard finish. Texture paste can be filed or sanded once fully dry. You can use them neat and then paint them when dry, or mix them with paint prior to application.

Let’s see what happens when you mix gold acrylic ink with different mediums:

Gold acrylic ink with Texture paste, Regular Gel, Gloss Gel.
L-R: Gold acrylic ink with Texture paste, Regular Gel, Gloss Gel

Gold acrylic ink is transparent, but look how it changes when mixed with the different mediums. Use it with Texture Paste and you’ll find the lustre changes from shiny gold to matt beige. With Regular Gel, the shine is retained, but it’s not as bright as it could be. Gloss Gel bulks out the paint and retains the shine.

Though the lustre changes with each medium, all of them allow the paint to hold it’s shape. So it’s important to choose the right medium to get the qualities we desire. If we wanted the ink to retain its fluidity as well as shine, we’d have needed to select a liquid gloss medium instead of a gel. Fortunately the tube or jar will indicate the characteristics on the label.

The drying time of a medium depends on the type and thickness as well as heat and humidity of the environment. Generally, the thinner the layer, the quicker it will dry. Ideally lay down a medium and then leave it to dry for a day. Several days if it’s a very thick layer.

As a general rule, apply mediums in several thin layers instead of one very thick one. Too thick and the medium won’t fully cure, retaining the milky colour instead of becoming clear as it dries.

Why use a medium?

When you use a medium you are changing the paint’s original qualities to make it more suitable for the creative task at hand. Mediums give an effect that paint alone cannot achieve.

Suppose you wish to emphasize the texture of rocks on the seashore. You could chose to apply a medium that is thick, opaque, and holds the tool marks e.g. Texture Paste. Obviously a medium that is runny, transparent, glossy, and will dry to a smooth film, e.g. Gloss Medium, will be less suitable.

So let’s look at two very different paintings that use mediums in different ways.

Landscape using three different mediums.

This landscape uses several different mediums.

The sky is Soft Body acrylic mixed with airbrush medium to give a washy effect similar to watercolour.

Texture Paste added bulk to the distant hills, choppiness to the water and texture to the rocks and grass.

White Flakes Gel, gave extra texture to the rocks.

Mediums suit abstracts as well as representational paintings.

Abstract using Gloss Gel.

This image from last week’s post uses Gloss Gel to thicken and increase the shine of iridescent heavy body acrylics.

Detail of previous image.

Here’s a close up.

Or you can choose a medium that is the driving force behind the final appearance of the painting.

Painting created with pouring medium.

Pouring Medium is an ideal paint additive for allowing colours to flow and blend together.

So you can see that using mediums with your acrylics gives a wide variety of possibilities to enhance your creativity. You can also buy dry ingredients, such as sand, gravel and sparkles, to add to wet mediums to give further effects.

Start to explore the wide range of mediums here.

There’s a lot more to discover about acrylic mediums, so we’ll delve deeper in future posts.

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Advice Worth Spreading

Amid the gems, appreciate the diamonds.

Are you like me, a fan of the TED Talks? If you haven’t heard of them, they’re speeches loosely based on Technology, Education and Design. Their tag line is “Ideas worth spreading”. Do Google them (other search engines are available) if you haven’t discovered them yet. I’m a big fan, and doing my own TED talk sits high on my bucket list.

This week on the blog I’m morphing ideas worth spreading into advice worth spreading. It’s the first of some occasional posts about excellent advice I’ve received through my creative life.

We all learn a lot from others, some snippets of knowledge being more memorable than others. Yet among the gems of advice there are always a few diamonds. So I thought it would be good to reflect on a few of those over the coming months.

The first is from nature photographer, Mike Amphlett. I’ve known Mike for decades, ever since he gave a talk to my local birdwatching society. Over the years I’ve heard him speak many times, and in the beginning his talks often included the same three words, spoken with enthusiasm and emphasis.

“Burn some film!”

The fact he used the word film shows you how long ago this was, yet the sentiment is just as relevant today.

For those of you who have only ever experienced digital photography, let me explain. In the days of film cameras, film was sold in reels of 24 or 36 images. Once you’d used those you had to remove the reel and get it processed, inserting another roll of film if you wanted to keep shooting. You had to pay for both the film and the processing costs, so taking hundreds of photos could be quite costly.

Compare that with today’s digital photography. Buy the camera and you’re good to go. 1000s of photos for no extra costs.

Unsurprisingly, many of us would rival Scrooge in our photography. Take few shots, hope you’d got a good one (no chance to see the results immediately in those days!), and move on to the next subject.

So when Mike said, “Burn some film” he simply meant, explore your subject. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of images, accepting that many of them will be useless. But in doing so, you’ll look deeper than most people, and among your images there may be gems, or even a diamond.

Most of us can apply this to our own photography, and in this decade there’s no excuse when every mobile phone contains a camera and there’s no cost implication. Yet the concept goes way beyond photography. In your creative practice, are you really exploring your subject?

I’ve mentioned before on this blog about planning a work before you start the main painting. I’ve taught a lot of classes over the past three decades and I’ve often noticed that participants just want to sit down, paint a picture to completion, and repeat the process next painting session. There’s minimal preparation and no exploration.

That’s fine if you know what you’re doing, and are content to paint the same type of subject in the same style week after week. But if you want more than that, thoroughly exploring your subject is essential.

Here are a few ways you can “burn some film” in preparation:

  • Photo reference. Don’t just take a couple of obvious photos and move on. Look from different angles, from above and below. Zoom in close, especially if your subject has areas that may be challenging to paint. Distort with an unusual lens if you have one. Flash on or flash off?
  • Sketches. As for photography, really get to know your subject. Sketch the whole and sketch some sections. Try different formats. Work in monochrome and colour. Try various media. Imagine this is the only chance you’ll ever have to experience this subject, so it’s important to extract every piece of information you can.
  • Look at other artist’s work. How have they conveyed the subject? What media have they used? Are they taking a literal approach or considering the subject’s place in history or culture? When I was researching The Wildlife Artist’s Handbook, I was amazed by the different approaches artists had taken when inspired by Ravens. Investigating ancient Egyptian art gave me an entirely new approach to picture-making.
Owls of Ancient Egypt watercolour
Owls of Ancient Egypt

The Creative Process

Gathering reference material is the first step in the creative process. You may not need to do all of the steps, but the more you do, the more you’ll be ready to undertake the final piece. You’ll also learn a lot in the process, which will benefit your future art.

  • Step 1: Gather reference material – photos, sketches, relevant objects or artefacts
  • Step 2: Make colour notes and sketches
  • Step 3: Explore composition via thumbnail sketches
  • Step 4: Consider different supports, media, and scales
  • Step 5: Make test pieces of areas of the painting that may be new to you. Try different methods of representing particular textures.
  • Step 6: Review your work up to this point. Which ideas excite you the most? Which do you want to progress?
  • Step 7: Undertake the artwork.
Reference resources
Sketches, photographs, deer antlers and a composition layout, some of the planning that went into my painting of British Deer.

At the end of the process you’ll likely have a very different painting than you’d have produced if you’d gone with your initial impression. More exciting. More individual.

I’m currently exploring pattern and texture in the natural world – geology, ripples, tree bark, shells, fossils, feathers… Doing so requires a lot of experimentation with materials, tools, surfaces and techniques, a well as new subject matter. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of learning, and I’m producing art that is far more unusual and individual to me. I haven’t ceased painting wildlife, just adding in an alterative to my practice.

Seams Like Gold, acrylic spray paint and ink with acrylic gels.

I’m not suggesting you’ll want to go through the entire process with every painting. Sometime we want to consolidate; sometime we want to expand our skills. But burn some film is great advice when you’re feeling that you want to dig deeper. Here’s to widening horizons and stepping out of comfort zones.

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Look at That! (Part 2)

Scottish Wildcat painting

How to direct attention in a painting.

Last week we looked at how we can direct a viewer’s attention to a particular part of our painting through judicious use of contrast or detail. (If you haven’t read that post yet, I suggest you’ll find it helpful to do so before reading this one. View it here.)

As well as focusing on a particular feature, we also want to move our viewer’s gaze around the whole image. You probably do this instinctively sometimes, perhaps with a river or road that winds through a landscape.

There are other compositional tools, some obvious and some subtle, that you can use in a painting to direct a viewer’s gaze:

  • foliage that point towards your subject
  • a flock of birds flying towards something
  • the gaze of a person or animal in a particular direction
  • shadows cast from a tree or building
  • directional clouds or a stormy sky
  • a fence or hedge
  • an open gate
grey Wagtail

In this painting you can see how the rocks have been positioned to lead the eye around the painting in a zigzag movement.

The rocks don’t need to continuous – the eye will follow the shape, even if there are spaces between the different elements.

The Wagtail’s body and angled head also echo these zigzag shapes.

Now let’s look in more detail at a painting to see how the different elements were arranged to convey an implication of movement in a particular direction. Flitting Through is a painting of Long-tailed Tits moving through conifer foliage.

Long-tailed Tits painting

Usually in a wildlife painting, there is more space in front of the subject than behind, giving the sense that the subject can move into the space in front of it.

In this painting I deliberately decreased the space on the right, to evoke the sense of the birds being on the move. The viewer has only just spotted them before they move out of the scene.

Long-tailed Tits painting showing directional lines

The birds direct the viewer’s attention through the image. Even though the bottom bird and the one on the right are spaced apart, the angle of their bodies are on the same diagonal, linking the two and directing attention.

The two left lines converge on a point on that diagonal, also focusing attention on that line.

Long-tailed Tits painting showing directional lines

Now if we add the directions created by branches and twigs, we can see that numerous lines point towards that central diagonal line and lead towards the top corner, emphasising the direction of the birds’ travel.

You can use directional lines in paintings other than landscapes too.

Painting of grassland flowers

In Grassland Mosaic you can see how stems and twigs lead you around the painting, even though they appear to be randomly placed. Notice how the Bee Orchid stem at the bottom disappears and reappears further up the painting, in a visual hide-and-seek.

A line can be implied as well as physically rendered. Just look at the painting of a Scottish Wildcat at the top of this post and you can follow the cat’s intense gaze towards something outside the confines of the painting. We don’t know what is there, but the cat’s focus tells us there is something to capture our attention.

Sunlight & Shadow. Acrylic painting of Woodpigeons.

In Sunlight and Shadow, the top bird appears to be turning slightly to look at the lower. If the two were looking directly at each other, the implied line would be even stronger. That would create tension and cause the viewer to look from one to the other.

In conclusion…

So to summarise these last two posts, we can direct our viewer’s attention by using:

  • detail in the area where we want to attract attention
  • directional lines within a scene
  • strong contrast, of tone, colour, texture, lustre or line
  • implied direction e.g. a person or creature looking in a particular direction

If you want a completely different approach, you can use any of these techniques to draw attention away from something. Doing so would give your viewer something to discover in the painting. Something beyond the obvious. Simply point, or place the emphasis, elsewhere, and surprise your viewer. They’ll wonder how they could have missed something so integral to the painting.

In wildlife art, we often see the creature taking centre stage, large and detailed within the image. Yet in reality, the creature is often hard to spot, and only seen when it moves or makes a noise.

I hope these two posts have shown you that there are plenty of options for directing your viewers to see what you want them to see, in the order you want them to see it. It’s fun to play with the different elements of a scene and think how to arrange them to give the effect you desire. Thumbnail sketches are a great way to do that, so check out the Aigas Art Challenge #5 for more information on thumbnail sketches.

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Look at That!

Scottish wildcat painting.

How to direct your viewer’s attention in your painting

Earlier this week I was writing an article for a magazine and I mentioned that the viewer’s attention will always be attracted to contrast and detail in a painting. So I thought that would be a good topic to explore on the blog this week.

3 deer, each more distant from the viewer.

Foreground items will be bright, with a wide tonal range and plenty of detail.

In the middle distance we still see shape and tone, but the tonal contrast is reduced. We’ve lost the detail and colours are less bright.

Distant objects are merely seen as a pale shape: no detail and no contrast.

So when we know which elements of the painting will catch the viewer’s attention, we can use that knowledge to direct their attention where we want it.

Let’s see how that works in a painting:

Painting of Sika Deer

Sika Encounter tells the story of my experience of watching Sika Deer. The painting is divided into three sections, which read left to right, so I need my viewers to concentrate on the left side first.

To achieve that I’ve:

  • placed dark foliage behind the deer so the light backs of the deer contrast with the dark background.
  • positioned the deer so their bright white tails are faced towards the viewer.
  • made the leaf litter pale, to contrast with the dark legs of the deer
  • made the background less of an even tone than the other sections
  • used long brushstrokes and defined outlines for the deer

In the second section the brushstrokes for the deer are more broken and the tones are of a smaller range. The white tails are viewed from the side, so are less obvious.

Close up of Sika painting

In the third section I’ve used short mosaic-like brushmarks for the deer. The tone of the deer is similar to the background, making them harder to see. In some cases the outlines of the deer disappear, relying on the viewer to connect feet to legs. This gives the added advantage of implying speed.

Additionally, an illusion of depth is created by the foreground trees being detailed but becoming less so as they recede. Distant colours become more muted.

So you can see there’s quite a lot of planning before putting paint to surface.

Pastel painting of Dorcas Gazelle

We use these techniques in all types of paintings, irrespective of how complicated the image may be.

In this pastel portrait of a Dorcas Gazelle, the animal stands out because it is detailed whereas the background is not.

The background is darker behind the subject, contrasting with the paler sides of the animal’s neck. If those two tones were similar, the animal would disappear into the background.

Detail is focused on the facial features -look how loose the marks on the neck are compared to those depicting the eyes and muzzle. There’s no need to make the neck highly detailed. We want the viewer to focus on the head, not the neck.

So how else can we focus our viewer’s attention? One way is to use a contrasting colour. Remember the iconic image of the little girl in the red coat in the film Schindler’s List? Everything else in the image is grey, even the child herself, so our attention goes straight to the splash of red. You don’t have to be quite so extreme in your work, but you can certainly use a spot of a contrasting colour to say “Look at this!”.

An alternative approach in a painting is to minimise detail and contrast so elements of the painting deliberately become less obvious. In Winter Visitors (below) I’ve done just that.

Painting of Redwing and Fieldfares.

I wanted to capture the way the birds seemed to disappear into their habitat, as well as mimic the way some birds in a flock are more obvious than others. So I minimised contrasts and details. I also used broken lines, and repeated colours and patterns throughout the images.

Which birds are harder to spot than others? How has that effect has been achieved?

Next time we’ll look at other ways you can lead your viewers to look exactly where you want them to in your paintings.

See more about any of these paintings on my website

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What is Acrylic Gouache?

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Is it acrylic or is it gouache?

A while ago at one of my classes, someone asked me “What is acrylic gouache?”. Maybe you’re equally uncertain, or perhaps you’ve never heard of it. So today we’re discovering what it is and what it does.

Firstly, we need to understand what we mean by gouache (pronounced goo-ash, and also known as Designer’s Colour). It’s simply an opaque form of watercolour. Watercolour itself is a transparent medium; gouache is the same watercolour pigments mixed with chalk, or another additive, to obtain an opaque colour.

Gouache lends itself to flat colour. It has a smooth, matt, velvety finish, and is applied in thin layers. Thick applications of paint are liable to crack, which is certainly a disadvantage of the medium.

Like watercolour, it’s water-soluble. It is not waterproof, so when dry it can be reconstituted with water. That’s great if you want to make changes, but less good if the underlying layer is disturbed when you apply a second layer.

Acrylic Gouache

So how does a watercolour-type paint fit with acrylic? I think the name is actually quite misleading, as acrylic gouache is not gouache. It’s just a variant of acrylic paint. It’s called gouache simply because it was created to mimic the velvety appearance of traditional gouache, without having the disadvantages.

As with other types of acrylic, there’s a wide range of colours available, and the price point is similar to Heavy or Soft Body colour. Some brands include fluorescent, metallic and pearlescent colours in their ranges, making it suitable for numerous effects and styles of work. Lightfastness is usually classed as Good or Excellent.

You can check out the variety of brands and colours here.


Being acrylic it has all the advantages of acrylic: intense colour, waterproof when dry, and intermixable with other acrylic paints and mediums. The waterproof quality is great, because you can lay one colour over another without fear of the underlying one shifting. That could be one acrylic gouache layer over another, or a matt surface of acrylic gouache with contrasting lustres or textures applied over the top.

The intermixable quality also allows colours to be matched, as long as you’re using the same brand. So you can use the matt acrylic gouache, liquid acrylic ink and a fine acrylic spray all on the same painting, safe in the knowledge that your colours will match.

Blobs of Heavy Body and Acrylic Gouache with test patches of colour.

Left: Heavy Body Acrylic. Right: Acrylic Gouache.

The consistency of Heavy Body acrylic is akin to soft butter. It holds its shape, even when tilted on a steep angle. This paint is great when you want to be able to see texture and brushstrokes.

Acrylic Gouache’s consistency is that of thick cream, as you can see from the drip that’s forming when the support is tilted. Apply the paint in thin, smooth layers and brushstrokes are barely visible.

Another advantage of acrylic gouache is that it doesn’t need to be diluted. The consistency is designed for smooth and easy application, without the need to dilute the colour. I particularly like using paddle brushes to apply the paint.

Patches of yellow, red and white applied over a black surface.

Like other acrylics, acrylic gouache can be used on numerous surfaces: canvas, paper, wood, metal.

It works very well on a dark surface, as that enhances the brightness of the colours. Even yellow looks bright when covering a dark underlying colour, something that’s a challenge to achieve with other types of acrylic.

Use acrylic gouache:

  • for areas of flat colour
  • when you don’t want visible brushstrokes
  • when you need strongly opaque colour
  • when you need matt colour to contrast with other lustres
  • to mix with an opaque medium, in order to retain the opacity


There really isn’t much I dislike about my acrylic gouache paint. The main thought that comes to mind is that it’s less of a general purpose paint than either Heavy Body or Soft Body acrylics. Sometimes you want the option of transparent or translucent paint. But if you work in illustration, or a more graphic style where flat colour is desirable, I’d especially recommend it.

So what’s my overall verdict on my acrylic gouache? As I’m increasingly working with texture and lustre it’s not something I use every day. That said, when I need an opaque matt paint it’s absolutely perfect, so I’m very glad I’ve added it to my acrylics arsenal .

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Best Easels for Artists

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Artists have so many easels to choose from.

Which type is best for you?

Whatever painting medium is your preferred choice, you’re likely to need an easel, so in today’s post I thought it would be good to look at the different types of easels available.

Think about where you paint (indoors/outdoors, at home or at another venue?), your usual size and format of painting, and whether you are likely to change that in the future. Do you prefer to sit or stand to paint?

Most retailers specify the size and weight of the easel and the maximum size of support the easel will hold. If in doubt buy bigger: you don’t want to buy a small easel and then find it won’t fit your canvas or board.

Over the years I’ve experienced a lot of different types of easels, so here are my thoughts on the subject:

Table Easels

There are two common choices here, the upright H-frame or the landscape type, usually of beechwood construction. Both fold flat for easy storage. Other advantages are that they are lightweight, so easy to carry to an art class. A great option if you work on a small scale, regularly paint at indoor venues away from home, or if space is limited.

Table easel

This style is best for you if you work on a smaller scale, or predominantly use a landscape format.

An inexpensive and good value easel.

Maximum support this will take is 18.5 inches/ 47cm.

Disadvantages: the angle shown is the shallowest, so can be a little steep for watercolours. This easel can be a little limited if you work on a range of sizes and media.

H-frame table easel.

The upright is best for you if your work is small, mostly portrait format, or you need to work at a shallow angle.

Typical maximum support height is 22 inches/ 56cm, but they do vary slightly between brands, so check out the height if you often work near the limit of that size.

Can be angled from flat up to about 100 degrees, so it’s suitable for most media.

If space is really at a premium, you could try a metal clamp-on table easel. I haven’t tried this one, but it works on the same principle as a metal sketching easel so should work well. It would be ideal for taking to an art class too, being lighter and less bulky than a conventional table easel.

Sketching Easels

Useful for indoor and outdoor painting, sketching easels are ideal for larger than table-top work.

Metal and wooden sketching easels.

Sketching easels fold for easy storage and portability. Some are sold with a carrying bag – useful if you plan to work outdoors often. Maximum support size is about 29 inches/ 74cm.

Traditionally, construction was beechwood, though today aluminium is probably as common. Choose a medium weight – the heaviest are tedious to carry and the lightest aren’t stable enough unless weighted down.

Wooden easels are easy to find secondhand, so a great option if you’re on a very tight budget.

Checking the folded size will fit in your suitcase is wise if you do a lot of overseas painting.

You may prefer a Box Easel, as these come with an integral palette, carry strap and storage box for your kit. Personally I prefer to carry my kit in a rucksack on my back rather than my arm or shoulder taking the strain of everything, but that’s just personal preference.

Studio Easels

There are multiple options for this category. Again, beechwood is the preferred construction, as it’s close grained and strong. Most fold flattish, but their large size means they are more suited to someone with a dedicated space for their art. Not a portable option, but great if you work on a large scale. Most can be tilted slightly forward as well as back, so great if you work with pastels or charcoal as the loose dust can fall away from your work.

Radial Easel.

The Radial Easel is a great general purpose easel. Mine has been ideal for decades, only being usurped when I started working on larger and deeper supports.

Takes supports up to about 65 inches/ 165cm in height, though may vary between brands. Can be tilted backwards and forwards, to suit your media.

Some versions have a jointed upright, so you can work with an angled support. Those are more expensive, but worth the money if you’re likely to use that function.

The only slight disadvantage is that after many year’s constant use, they become less stable. (Anyone who has ever used a school or college easel will recall the variable stability of older radial easels.) If your easel isn’t in constant use, that’s not likely to be a problem. And let’s be honest, we all take better care of our own kit, so it lasts longer anyway.

If you regularly work on particularly deep canvases, you’re likely to need a larger easel.

H-frame studio easel.

H-frame Studio Easel

Good for bigger supports as both sides of the canvas or board is supported. The support is raised by a ratchet system.

This one is probably my least favourite of my easels, as it’s not as sturdy as I’d like even though it’s large. I tend to use mine more for displaying work than painting. I may have been unlucky, with this one, but I’d recommend going with a more robust option unless price is the deciding factor.

This type of easel usually sits flat on the floor rather than having castors, so must be carried from place to place. Only as issue if you’re likely to move items in your studio often.

Angled studio easel.

Angled Studio Easel

If you like working with fluid media, this is a good option as you can adjust it to suit your preferred angle, even working flat when necessary.

Strong and robust, this easel will take supports up to 52 inches/ 138cm in height.

Studio Easel.

The Studio Easel is an expensive option, but wonderfully stable, and ideal if you work on deep canvases or on a very large scale. This one takes supports up to 84.5 inches/ 215cm, and 7cm deep.

Check the size of support these easels will take before you buy, as they can be quite variable.

Support is raised or lowered by turning a cranked handle. This easel is usually on lockable wheels for ease of movement within the studio.

If budget is no limit, you may prefer the top of the range easels that incorporate storage drawers, take giant canvases or have motors to raise or lower the supports.

As you can see, I’ve gained quite a lot of easels over the years, through purchase, gift, loan or inheritance. Some I rarely use, except for particular circumstances, some are constant companions. It’s important to start with one that suits most of your work, and then add others later if necessary.

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Copyright – Cutting Through the Confusion

Copyright Matters

Know Your Rights

Creating art is not just about applying paint to paper or canvas. As artists we also need to consider the business side of our art, costing our materials, photographing our art, pricing our work, understanding our rights and exhibiting, to name but a few.

This blog is mostly aimed at readers who want to improve their drawing and painting skills, but from time to time I include posts on the business side of being an artist. I’m sure I have readers who would find that useful. So let’s start with a topic that applies to anyone who has ever created a piece of art….

Copyright – Knowledge is power

We’ve probably all skipped text about copyright before, on the basis it sounds simultaneously boring and complicated. Nooooo! Knowledge is power, so don’t be tempted to turn away.

Copyright is actually not that complicated, and is something that artists particularly need to understand. Maybe you feel inspired by someone else’s work or perhaps someone wants to use your images? Both situations have copyright implications.

If you’ve ever made greetings cards or postcards of your art, you’ve benefitted from using your copyright. Ditto for prints, puzzles, books, mugs, tea towels, and many, many more items. Copyright gives you the right to reproduce your art, as well as the right to sell and distribute it, in other words: to earn from it. Did you know that was enshrined in law?

When you produce a piece of creative work, you automatically own the copyright immediately the artwork is finished. That’s true for almost all creative endeavours, except in just a few circumstances, or if you created a work of art while being employed to do so by someone else.

Once copyright in a work exists, it lasts for the rest of your lifetime and for a further seventy years after your death if you are a UK citizen. (Most countries specify life plus 50-100 years after death, so check the time period for your country if you’re not in the UK.) So yes, the saying is true – artists do make money after they’re dead!

Once copyright has expired, the work is in the public domain and can be used by anyone for any purpose.

As copyright is intellectual property, it can be bequeathed like any other property, and also gifted, bought or sold. Make sure you specify in your will to whom you bequeath your IP rights. They’re potentially more valuable than anything else you own; so don’t leave them to languish unassigned.

One of the commonest issues about copyright for artists is whether or not we can copy another person’s images.

Acrylic painting of a Red Kite soaring.

Let’s take the example of a soaring Red Kite .

Anyone is free to create art based on the idea of a soaring Red Kite – the idea is not protected. The actual art is protected though, so no one can copy artwork showing a soaring Red Kite (except in a few special circumstances – see the Fair Dealing section below) without infringing the maker’s copyright, unless the original artist has given permission.

Changing the medium does not affect this e.g. a mixed media copy of a watercolour painting would still infringe the watercolourist’s copyright.

Adapting another’s work is still copyright infringement, irrespective of the number of changes made. You may have heard that copying is OK providing you make at least seven changes. Nope, not true; it’s an urban myth.

You can be inspired by someone else’s work but you cannot copy it without permission.

Using a photograph for reference, e.g. to check the wing pattern of the soaring Red Kite, is perfectly acceptable; copying it is not.

Fair Dealing/ Fair Use

The only times when copying work without explicit permission is allowed is when the copy comes within the term Fair Dealing (British) or Fair Use (American). When Fair Dealing or Fair Use applies, copyright in the work still exists, but in certain circumstances copying is allowed without being an infringement.

This includes copying to create a parody of someone else’s art, for news reporting, or to aid accessibility for a visually impaired person. Works may be reproduced for purposes of review or criticism, providing the work is referenced in the main body of the text.

Anyone may copy parts of an artwork for educational purposes: either for instruction, research or personal study.

Magazine spread of a step-by-step painting project.

Art magazines and books often offer step-by-step projects for less experienced artists to learn from. The key here is that it should be a learning experience for the reader.

A step-by-step project may not be copied and then the result offered for sale in an exhibition or privately. Even if the infringer credits the copyright owner, their rights will still have been breached.

There are a few other cases when copying is permissible. You may copy something if it is incidental inclusion. So if you took a photograph of your art in a gallery, and the photograph included another artist’s work because it was displayed among yours, that would not be an infringement.

It is also permissible to draw, paint, photograph or film sculptures and similar items if they are on permanent display in a public space, and to distribute those copies. This provision does not include all public art, so you could draw or photograph a sculpture, but not a painted mural.

Photo of an outdoor sculpture in situ.

It is also permissible to draw, paint, photograph or film “sculptures and similar items” if they are on permanent display in a public space, and to distribute those copies. This provision does not include all public art, so you could draw or photograph a sculpture, but not a painted mural.

This post has been adapted from content contained in my upcoming book “Create Art, Create Income”.

Please contact me if you would like to be informed when the book is published.

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Artists’ Fixative and How to Spray a Drawing

Note: Some affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you use my affiliate link. Thanks for supporting this site. Full disclosure policy here.

Selection of messy drawing materials.

Charcoal. Pastels. Graphite sticks. Soft pencil.

Aside from all being drawing materials, what do they all have in common?

The answer is they all need to be fixed to protect the drawing and prevent loose particles from detaching themselves from the support. But what is the best method for applying fixative?

First we need to choose our fixative, traditionally a dilute resin solution. This used to be available in liquid form applied with a spray diffuser, but these days it’s much more likely to be applied via an aerosol.

Fixative dries quickly, usually giving the paper a slightly yellow tinge before reverting to the original colour as it dries. Different brands vary in the strength of odour and the water-resistant qualities.

Perhaps you prefer a natural alternative to aerosols? You could try Spectrafix, which is based on natural milk casein from a recipe that has been used by artists for centuries. Or try RenaArt’s silverpoint fixative. Both containers are similar to pump spray bottles, rather than using an aerosol propellant.

If using water-based products, test on a separate piece of paper first, to find the optimum distance for spraying. Too much product may cause the paper to cockle.

Travelling with fixative

Airlines aren’t too keen on either fixative or aerosols. Winsor and Newton has a useful document on their website, detailing which art materials are permitted on flights and the CAA also has similar useful information, but neither mention fixative specifically.

That said, my fixative is emblazoned with the words extremely flammable and the W&N safety sheet states Must not be exposed to temperatures above 50°C. (Anything with a flash point below 61°C is classed as dangerous on planes.) So I think it’s a fairly safe bet that fixative is a no-go for overseas travel.

Whichever type of fixative you choose, there are some definite dos and don’ts.

DON’T do what I once saw someone do, which was to place her painting on the table, then spray closely and heavily until there was literally a puddle of fixative over part of her drawing. Eeek!

DON’T spray freely and randomly over your drawing, however much fun it might be. We’ll see why in a minute.

So let’s look at some DOs:

  • Work in a well ventilated area. You really don’t want to be breathing in fixative fumes for the rest of the day.
  • Place your work upright on an easel, then any heavier droplets will fall before reaching your work. If you’d put your work flat on a table the droplets would splash onto your drawing.
  • Hold the can about 12 – 18 inches (30 – 45cm) away from your work while spraying, or at a suitable distance to provide a fine, even spray.
  • Start each stoke of spray to one side of your work, so if there is any initial spatter it will miss the drawing.
  • Start your first line of spray in a horizontal line at the top of your work. Then continue to work down the drawing in horizontal bands. Each band starts where the previous one finishes.

So let’s see how that would look. Obviously fixative spray lines are normally invisible, but here they’re shown in blue so you can see the paths and overlaps:

Left image shows path of spray in random movements. Right image shows spray path in horizontal bands.
LEFT: spraying randomly results in some areas of the drawing having several layers of spray, some none at all. RIGHT: as we work down the drawing, each part of the drawing is covered by a single layer of spray.

There may be a little overlap, or slight gaps, in your lines of spray, but not enough to be a problem, especially if you apply more than one coat.

Once you’ve applied a thin, even layer of fixative, you can always apply a second (or even a third) layer if there are any parts of the drawing more densely covered with the drawing medium.

You might also spray your work at intervals during the drawing process, particularly if you’re working with pastels or charcoal. This method will give better adhesion than multiple coats once the drawing is finished. Be sure that you’re using a workable fixative if using this method, as (rarely) some fixatives create a repellent surface. If the manufacturer’s specification sheet doesn’t say so, just test on a separate piece of paper before using on your masterpiece.

Fixative or hairspray?

Many artists use hairspray as an alternative to fixative. Some even swear by particular brands. An artist of my acquaintance always insisted that only Timotei would do for his pastels.

My own view is that I’ll use fixative for a drawing that I’m offering for sale, but may revert to hairspray for a soft pencil or charcoal drawing in my sketchbook. I don’t know how hairspray will affect the drawing long term, but I do know that a reputable art manufacturer will have made all the necessary tests to ensure their fixative product will protect my drawing for decades. If I’m offering work for sale, I believe I owe it to my clients to ensure their purchase has good quality materials that were designed for the purpose.


The main disadvantage of fixative is that it can change the tone of certain colours. A good exercise is to draw horizontal stripes of different colours of pastel on a piece of paper. Now cover the left half of the paper and spray the page with fixative. Uncover the left side and you’ll see original colours on the left and sprayed colours on the right.

You’ll notice that some colours look unaffected and some are noticeably darker. Once you know how particular colours behave, you can decide if they need adjustment in your work after spraying. I often like to re-establish the highlights after my final coat of spray, as I find they are adversely affected by fixative.

Alternatives to fixative

You don’t have to spray your drawing at all. If you choose not to, there are other methods to stop the drawing medium from transferring itself to every surface it touches.

  • Layer your loose drawings between glassine, tracing or tissue paper, and store flat if possible.
  • Place a piece of tissue paper over your drawing. Using the back of a wooden spoon, rub over the drawing, pressing the drawing medium into the paper.
  • Cut glassine, tissue or tracing paper to the size of your sketchbook. Glue it in place on one edge so that it covers and protects the drawing. You can buy sketchbooks already interleaved with glassine paper for this purpose. They’re usually designed for work in pastels, but occasionally you’ll see general purpose sketchbooks that are interleaved.
  • Protect your drawings by framing with a mount and glass, as you would for a watercolour.

So that’s the low-down on fixative. I hope it’s been helpful.

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