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I want to do a painting (on canvas or on acrylic-gessoed paper) in charcoal and oil but I'm unsure how to "fix" it or varnish it. I love charcoal and usually just use it for the sketch underneath the oil and then paint over it but what happens if I do a painting that has a combination of areas with only charcoal on it, some areas that are paint only, some areas that are paint and charcoal together, and some areas with charcoal over the paint? The oil would be very thinly applied. Would I use a spray varnish at the end to "fix" it because a brushed-on varnish would lift the charcoal? If on paper, should I frame it with a good space between the glass and artwork? If y'all think that charcoal and acrylic paint would be better for this type of art, what would I use in that case to seal it? Thank you for this helpful site.
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If you are ok with using acrylic then I might suggest going that route simply because oil paint on paper will almost certainly cause some degree of yellowing in the future....this is not a big deal however if you are covering the entire surface with paint but based on your description thus far it sounds like some of the paper substrate is visible so staining might be an issue for you down the road (or maybe not). As for fixatives you might be interested to read the thread here on our opinion regarding commercially available products but yes, you most certainly should spray and not apply by brush.
Thank you so much, Kristin. I'm more used to oil but in this case it sounds like it may be a better approach with acrylics than oil and it's going to be washy anyway which makes even more sense. Thank you so much for the link on fixatives too and yes, I'll spray it. Then if done on paper I'd frame it under glass I assume.