You love to draw. You’ll have your practice works and your real works.

For your practice works, you can practice on anything. If I’m doing a quick sketch and it doesn’t have to be big, I’ll use plain copy paper.

Copy paper is super cheap. I buy it in bulk at Target, 500 or 750 pieces of paper at a time.

For my larger practice pieces, I’ll use mixed media paper. I love the stuff! It’s fun to draw on and takes anything I throw at it. It also takes tons of erasing.

However, even the mixed media paper is not permanent. That’s also for practice, not for my real works.

Archival paper

For my real works, I’m using good quality archival watercolor paper. I prefer Arches hot press or Blick Premier hot press paper. Note that there are other wonderful brands out there. Those just happen to be the two I really liked working on.

Archival is the key word. Archival literally means for the archives, or archival purposes. It’s designed to last and last. Non-archival paper will turn brittle and deteriorate. You definitely don’t want that if you want your name to last hundreds of years after your death. And considering I write this blog for other artists, I’m assuming you want your name to last hundreds of years after your death. That won’t happen if all your works deteriorate.

So assuming the people after you maintain the art pieces correctly, your archival quality pieces should last for centuries. Keep in mind that sunlight, heat, and dampness are the enemies of art so hopefully they know that. Whenever I sell a piece (in person), I remind the buyer of those facts. I actually give them a sheet on how to care for their new art piece(s).

How they make archival quality paper

The good folks who make your archival quality paper use an alkaline paper-making process. They’re using cotton which is 100% acid-free.

Paper made from trees simply does not last. Trees are great for the environment for lots of reasons. One of which is that their parts decompose and become part of the soil. Which is great for most things but very bad for your artwork.

So instead, for your serious works, make sure you buy 100% cotton acid-free archival paper. Like I said earlier, I personally prefer using watercolor paper for my permanent drawings because, well, I love watercolor paper. I prefer hot press because it’s much easier to draw on than cold press watercolor paper.

Preserving your drawings

OK, you’ve finished your professional level drawing. Now, you want to sell it.

However, what would happen if someone came by with a big eraser and went nuts?

Well, you’d have a problem. So much for your artwork.

“Is that it?”

No. Good news.

Once you’ve finished your drawing, there’s this spray you can use. It’s made by Krylon and it’s called Workable Fixatif. It protects your drawings. It does allow you to add more pencil. You just can’t erase once it’s sprayed on.

Krylon’s Workable Fixatif

I spray my artwork twice. The first time, I spray it, then wait 30 minutes. Then, I spray it again and wait 60 minutes before bringing it inside. Please note that this stuff isn’t exactly good for you so make sure you spray it outside, when it’s not too humid.

Keep an eye on the weather report too. Don’t spray your artwork right before it starts raining.

The next day, I also add a layer of wax. It may be overkill but I love wax.

Dorland’s wax medium

This will give your artwork not only another layer of protection but also a sheen. I add it for both purposes. I love the look.

Remember how I said that you can still add more pencil once you spray with workable fixatif? Well, once you’ve added the wax, you can’t. The piece is totally finished. You cannot edit your artwork in any way once you put that layer of wax over it.

This wax is made of wax plus resin. It gives a protective coat and once you add a layer of wax, you no longer need glass (assuming you’re framing your art) to protect your artwork.

You can add glass if you want to. You just don’t need to anymore.

On Dorland’s website, they say that it’s a sealant, varnish, and medium all in one. They also say that you no longer have to worry about your artwork yellowing over time.

So there you go. Use archival quality acid-free paper, spray it twice with workable fixatif, then complete it with a layer of wax.

You should probably frame it if you’re going to sell it. Glass optional.

Categories: Pencil art


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