Covering a Fixative Spatter on a Finished Drawing

Over the years, I’ve heard more than one artist complain about spatters from spray fixative. I’ve experienced them myself, so when I recently encountered an especially “obvious” problem, I decided to share my steps for covering a fixative spatter.

One disclaimer before I begin, however. I used Clairefontaine Pastelmat with Brush & Pencil products for this painting. Since I also used Powder Blender, ACP Textured Fixative was the fixative I used during the drawing process and afterward. One of the purposes of ACP Textured Fixative is restoring tooth for additional color application.

Covering a Fixative Spatter on Pastelmat

I usually “fix” drawings with three light coats of ACP Textured Fixative between work sessions, and again when I finish. I’ve found three light coats work better than one heavy coat. For one thing, there’s less chance of spatters and blots with light coats.

But spatters do happen with even the best products. The moment you see a spatter, blot it carefully with paper towel. Just one, quick dab is usually enough.

When I saw spatters on the second spray for this piece, I blotted the spatters with a paper towel. That method removed the smaller ones (there were two or three.)

The Damage

But there was one large one near the top center of the piece. It’s quite visible. Blotting helped, but didn’t remove it completely.

Covering a Fixative Spatter

Here’s a closer look at the blot after blotting and drying. I was disappointed blotting didn’t remove the mark completely, but I already knew I could try at least two things to cover it.

The first thing I did, however, was apply the third light coat of ACP Textured Fixative to make sure the colors were completely sealed. Since I didn’t know for sure what it would take to cover the blemish, I wanted to be absolutely certain I’d cause no further harm to the drawing, which was otherwise finished.

Covering a Fixative Spatter

The Fix

The obvious first solution was layering color over the blemish. Textured Fixative is meant to be worked over, so I knew I could rework the area. But could I cover such an obvious blemish? That was the question.

I used the same colors I’d used to make the painting: Faber-Castell Polychromos Terracotta, Cadmium Orange, and Dark Cadmium Orange.

I applied each color in that order over the blemish using a combination of circular strokes and cross hatching. That helped blur the blemish, but didn’t cover it, so I repeated the process several times, alternating between the colors.

After working over the spatter and smoothing it into the surrounding colors, I added the same colors to the inside of the spatter. Since the spatter was round, I used circular strokes, and worked around and around within the spatter.

Next, I essentially drew circles around the outside edge of the spatter with the same combination of colors.

Then, I worked over the spatter and some of the surrounding area again to soften any edges and make sure the color transitions were smooth and seamless.

This is the result. Can you see the spatter? I can, but I know where to look for it.

Here’s the full image after repairs.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison showing the drawing before the damage and after the repair.

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

Covering a Fixative Spatter

What if the First Fix Didn’t Work

If the first option didn’t work, the next step would have been mixing Touch-Up Texture either with White or with the three colors I mentioned above.

If I used Titanium White, I’d have painted the liquid mixture over the spatter, then layered the same three colors until there was no visible damage.

I could also have shaved pigment off the three colors (Terracotta, Cadmium Orange, and Dark Cadmium Orange,) then mixed each of those shavings with Touch-Up Texture. Then I could paint each color over the spatter until it disappeared.

I know both methods would work, because I used both methods to paint the flying lava spatters and sparks toward the end of the painting process.

Covering a Fixative Spatter on a Finished Drawing

As I mentioned above, using Brush & Pencil products on sanded art paper made covering this fixative spatter much easier than I anticipated. It gives me a lot more confidence in using these products.

But regular workable fixative sometimes produces spatters, too. Would a similar process work to cover those kinds of spatters?

I most often use workable fixative on traditional drawing papers such as Stonehenge and Canson Mi-Teintes. Could I cover spatters on those papers with this process?

I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, so I may be doing some experimenting. When I get an answer, I’ll let you know!

4 Replies to “Covering a Fixative Spatter on a Finished Drawing”

    1. Thank you, Gail.

      Had I not already used the Brush & Pencil products to create a couple of pieces, I would have thought this piece was ruined. As it was, I had a couple of options for trying to fix it!

  1. Wow, this sure is helpful. I know that many people that I watch say don’t give up and it looks like this is the perfect case. Thanks for sharing this.

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