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How To Preserve Your Charcoal Artwork

Raoul Lornie 16th Jan 2018

Some of the freshest and most interesting modern artwork has been found on charcoal. It is a very delicate medium to work with. There is something about their richness and the fact that the particles are barely attached to the surface that makes them seem almost alive. Storing and caring for your artwork correctly is also very important. As the surface of both pastel and charcoal is very fragile, all it takes is a puff of wind from a fan, a swipe of the hand or any one of a number of accidents to mar the look of a painstakingly made artwork.

Holy Banaras By Somnath Bothe , Pune (maharashtra)

Holy Banaras By Somnath Bothe 

While applying a fixative is the norm for most, the art community is divided on this practice. Fixatives may preserve an artwork but they can also change the look, colour, and feel of the artwork. Some insist that it is the only way to preserve a drawing while on the other hand some artists downright shun the idea of using a fixative. Fixatives will prevent the loss of charcoal particles but can also cause value variations if not used correctly. This very temperamental quality of charcoal gives it an impression of being difficult medium to work with.

Charcoal Painting 'Bull Drawing' by Indian Artist Sujith Kumar G S Mandya

Bull Drawing 122 By Sujith Kumar Gs Mandya

In case you choose to use fixtures to preserve your charcoal artwork, a few tips below will come in handy. While using a fixative, the first step is to gently brush away any loose particles with a drafting brush. This will remove any loose particles without smearing the artwork. The drawing should be placed on a surface, such as a board, and adhered with a clip or artist tape to hold it in place. If you haven’t used fixatives before, it’s best to apply some charcoal to paper using different values to test the effects. Using a fixative with the right technique does take practice, and you can avoid disappointment by taking the time to a few test runs to get familiar with the process.

Untitled By Thota Vaikuntam

Untitled By Thota Vaikuntam

Make sure to spray the fixative in a well-ventilated room or preferably outside. Lay the board flat and stand a few feet away. Spray a continuous motion without pausing and be sure to cover the entire area with a mist. Don’t soak or saturate the paper as it can result in deep value changes and can cause the charcoal particles to float.

Vt In Mumbai By Yuvraj Patil , Dombivli ( thane )

Vt In Mumbai By Yuvraj Patil

The paper may not look wet, but make sure to resist touching it to find out. Allow for at least 30 minutes of drying time; apply a second coat, working in the opposite direction to ensure that the whole artwork is covered.

Monsoon In Calcutta I By Ajay De

Monsoon In Calcutta I By Ajay De

As with all artworks, take extra care to ensure that you handle them properly and with utmost care. A well-preserved charcoal artwork can make a great option as wall art for the bedroom or living space.Click here to view a special curation of drawing and illustration 

 

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