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How to Seal Oil Pastels

how to seal oil pastels

Oil pastels often contain pigments and other materials which can react with the air and light over time. Sealing your oil pastel drawings will ensure they last for years without fading or discoloration.

So, how do I protect my oil pastels? Many might ask.

There are two main approaches to sealing: spray sealants and varnishes. Varnish is typically used on works larger than 8×10 inches. At the same time, spray sealant is best suited for smaller pieces or those created in series because of its quick-drying properties.

In this blog post, we’ll walk through how to seal your oil pastels using both methods.

Method 1: Seal Oil Pastels Using Spray Sealants

1. Choose the Right Spray Sealants.

There are a variety of spray sealants on the market, but we recommend using an aerosol sealant designed for artwork.

Be sure to choose a sealant that is compatible with your oil pastels. You can test a small area of your drawing to ensure the sealant doesn’t cause the colors to change.

2. Follow the Instructions

Once you’ve chosen a sealant, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

  • Most sealants require shaking before use and should be applied in thin layers from about eight inches away
  • Hold the can approximately 12-16 inches away from the surface and coat evenly when spraying your sealant. Two or three light coats are usually sufficient
  • Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next
  • After each layer dries, apply another until the desired coverage is achieved
  • Then, allow the sealant to dry completely before displaying your artwork

Method 2: Seal Oil Pastels Using Varnish

If you’re working on a larger piece or want to provide extra protection for your oil pastel drawing, we recommend using a varnish.

1. Choose the Right Type of Varnish

There are two types of varnishes- polymer or oil-based.

  • Polymer varnishes are generally more durable than oil-based varnishes, but both have their benefits depending on your project
  • Oil-based varnishes can yellow over time but tend to be more flexible and better suited for canvas paintings
  • Polymer varnishes are non-yellowing but can be brittle and less forgiving than oil-based varnishes

2. Follow the Steps

Once you’ve chosen a varnish, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Applying Varnish is more involved than spraying sealant, but it offers greater protection for your work.

  • Most varnishes require shaking before use and should be applied in thin layers from about eight inches away
  • You will need a brush (natural hair works best), liquid Varnish, and rags or paper towels
  • Begin by mixing the liquid Varnish with a small amount of matte medium. Mix well to produce an even consistency, then add in more liquid Varnish until you reach the desired thickness for your sealant
  • When applying Varnish, hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and apply evenly in long strokes. Be sure to coat all surfaces of your artwork
  • Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next

How to Seal Oil Pastels on Paper?

what to know when sealing your oil pastels on paper

Sealing oil pastels on paper is easy. You can seal the oil pastels with a fixative for various purposes.

So, Why do we Need to Seal Oil Pastels?

  • Keep them from smearing and make them more durable
  • Keep dust at bay
  • Hold pigment in place (so your art doesn’t fade)
  • Protect against damage caused by oils from fingers, tools, or other media sources
  • Seal against water if you want to use them for creative painting purposes

Several Types of Sealants will Work for oil Pastels on Paper:

  • Spray Varnish (spray sealers) come in both matte and gloss finishes and can be found at any art supply store. They are easy to apply, but they can leave a cloudy finish if too much is applied
  • Liquitex Spray Mount is an adhesive that comes in a bottle and must be shaken well before each use. It dries clear and can be used on both paper and canvas
  • Mod Podge is a sealant, glue, and finish all in one that comes in a bottle or can. It also dries clear and can be brushed, or sponge applied
  • Krylon UV Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating is another option that comes in a spray can. It protects artwork from fading caused by sunlight exposure

What to Know When Sealing your Oil Pastels on Paper?

Whichever sealant you choose to use, it’s important to read the instructions carefully before starting. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Spray a light coat of paint onto the work surface until even across all areas being worked upon. Allow time for drying before working again
  • If you are not happy with the result or wish to change colors, you can use a white eraser to remove the top layer of the sealer and start over again. However, do this before the sealant dries completely
  • Work in a well-ventilated area


Oil pastels are a great medium to use for art, but if you want them to last, one of the most important things is sealing them after they’re completed. There are many different ways to seal your oil pastels, and whichever method you choose will work with your intended project.

We hope these tips help you keep your beautiful creations looking their very best, so they don’t fade away any time soon.

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