Chalk Pastels: To Spray or Not to Spray?

I love the look of chalk pastels on black paper. Here are our  chalk pastel planets from this post on Art Projects for Kids. Gorgeous colors, but so messy. I sprayed them with hair spray.

Chalk pastel planets before fixative

Chalk pastel planets after fixative spray

Yep! They are significantly dulled down. Hair spray is cheap, fixes the pastel and doesn’t smell like a toxic chemical. But…I wish I could maintain those bright colors. I know some teachers skip the spray and store the art between sheets of paper. Any suggestions?

Do you spray your students’ pastel artworks?

Can you recommend a good fixative for chalk pastel?

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4 thoughts on “Chalk Pastels: To Spray or Not to Spray?

  1. I’m very interested to see what others respond here. This is something I wrestled with for years. Even just to hang the art on a bulletin board in the hallway, I wanted to spray, solids lining up in the halls for something or other didn’t get chalk all over he selves if they happened to lean on the board. I sometimes used hairspray, sometimes used workable fixative spray, etc, but yes, especially when they have colored with pastels on dark paper, the colors dull and darken. Very very frustrating. But if you don’t spray, you are sending home work that smudges all over e erything. Ugh.
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    • Hi Phyl
      Thanks for your thoughts on this. I just can’t imagine hanging unsprayed pastels in the art show. Is there a magic spray/technique out there? Sure hope someone will share it.

  2. I use a cheap fixative. I use hair spray. It works great treat it like a real fixative. 6-12 inches away. Pin all 4 corners on a wall because it curls up. Spray lightly. I recommend aqua net large can. Cost is about $1.50. Art teacher positions usually reimburse. Normal fixative costs $5.00-6.00.

    • Thanks Michael
      Never thought of pinning the corners. thanks for sharing your tip! Also thanks for sharing your preference for Aqua Net.

      I have been experimenting with lightly tacking the art on a cardboard sprayed with repositionable spray glue. It helps keep the art from blowing away when I spray outside.

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