How to keep Oil Pastels From Smearing

How to keep Oil Pastels From Smearing

Are you struggling to keep your oil pastel art from smearing? If so, you may be glad to hear that there are ways to seal oil pastels and preserve your oil painting. 

There are several fixatives that can be used to seal oil pastels to prevent smudging and discoloration over time. The post below includes what these fixatives are and how to use them for your oil pastel paintings.

Types of Oil Pastel Fixatives

There are two main types of fixates that include workable and final.

A workable fixative allows you to apply a layer and continue adding details to your oil pastel drawing, which makes them a soft pastel fixative. You can add light coats, followed by using pastel pencils and even layer oil pastels to add to your work.

Final fixatives are ones that create a protective film on top of your oil paintings to prevent dirt and dust from damaging them. Therefore, these fixatives aren’t meant to be used if you plan to add more to your artwork. Instead, they should be used at the very end as a final coating.

There are also aesthetic options to consider. There are finishes to stop smudging that creates a matte finish or a glossy finish. Therefore, you should consider how you want your final oil pastel works to look before choosing a final spray.

Sennelier D’artigny Sprayfix

This fixate works incredibly well with oil pastels. Users find that it’s also effective when it comes to retaining the vibrancy and details of the colors. 

The Senneliar Sprayfix produces a fantastic finish over the top of your artwork. It’s best to use multiple layers to get the best results. Just make sure that the current coating has dried for some time before applying the next coating. 

You’ll find that the pastel pigments stay more true to color and that the spray dries quickly. Having said that, this spray produces a strong smell which is why it may be best to do this in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. 

Windsor & Newton Artists Aerosol Spray

This aerosol is compatible with oil pastels. Therefore, you can still add details to your work, even after applying a layer of this fixative spray. 

We liked how this option creates a superb texture which looks great and can also be fun to paint over too with additional details. 

The spray is effective and maintains the quality of the paint used in your artwork. It’s also completely transparent. Therefore, you can be sure that your artwork won’t be altered and that it will last for a long time. 

You should use this aerosol outdoors due to how it can produce a strong odor. 

Grumbacher Fixative Gloss Spray Fixative

If you’re interested in adding a final glossy layer to your artwork, you’ll want to consider this option. 

When you apply this spray to oil pastel art, it creates a sheen that looks fantastic. However, we like how the sheen isn’t overbearing and doesn’t create distracting glare.

In addition to the aesthetic properties, this spray works to prevent dust and dirt particles from damaging the paint over time. It provides a protective layer that maintains the color pigments and makes them less prone to breaking down and smearing. 

It’s important to apply thin layers of this spray to artwork, because, in short, applying too much of it can impact the colors. It’s recommended to use this aerosol outdoors due to the strong smell that it produces. 

Also read: Oil Pastels For Beginners


Learning how to seal in your oil pastel to your canvas ensures that your work lasts for longer and hopefully, you’re now feeling more assured about how to use fixatives to prevent oil pastels from smearing. 

You may want to test out your chosen final fix or workable fixative on a small portion of your pastel drawings to make sure that the oil pastel fixative doesn’t ruin your art media. Once it’s fully dry, observe if there’s any discoloration to your finished work. If not, you can apply it to the rest of the paper surface to prevent smearing.


Can you use acrylic varnish to fix oil pastels?

Due to how oil pastels don’t fully dry on wax paper, using acrylics as varnish isn’t an effective method.

Can you use aerosol hairspray to coat oil pastel paintings?

Yes, artists often use this product as an inexpensive way to provide a double matt coating to a painting.

Can you use linseed oil for fixing oil pastels?

Yes, linseed oil is great for creating a smooth texture on the top of your artwork.

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Written By Adam Rushton

Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.

His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.