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animal
03-13-2001, 04:33 PM
I might want to try pastels and was wondering if anybody could give me any advice on materials that are needed,techniques and brands of good pastels. I would mostly use the pastels for animals and birds. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

LDianeJohnson
03-13-2001, 06:47 PM
I would suggest purchasing a small half-stick set of Rembrant pastels and a couple of sheets of Canson paper in a medium or light gray. This is the least investment you'd have to make just to try pastels. Since you draw/paint already, the same principles apply regarding light, value and color.

Mount your paper vertically with pushpins, bulldog clips or low-tack tape (so the dust falls straight down) with a few sheets of newspaper underneath as slight coushin.

Work from dark to light, lightly sketching in your subject then apply soft pastel colors using the edges or sides of the sticks.

If painting animals or birds, you can purchase a few open stock sticks of the colors you normally use in 2 or 3 different shades of each. Then, add colors or buy sets when you get hooked on pastel http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

Also, work large enough to give yourself room to apply the pastel. In other words, try not to paint things too small to start with. For instance, paint a cardinal a bit larger than normal. Once you get used to using pastel, you can control the colors and sticks no matter what size you work.

Have fun, and we'll help you here all we can.

Diane

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L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

animal
03-13-2001, 09:42 PM
Thanks Artistry for your comments. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Laloba123
03-19-2001, 01:40 AM
Wish I had seen this post sooner! I went and posted this same inquiry in the wrong forum. I went and bought the half stick soft pastels by Rembrandt today. I have been "doodling" on newspaper. The pastels, felt so soft and it is something I think I may really be able to grow in. I really enjoyed experimenting tonight. Animal, did you get your pastels yet and if so how are you doing?? Artistry: you gave wonderful advise and I thank you for that. Also, I have questions, do you need a special eraser for correcting mistakes in pastels? The directions stated you need a "kneadable" eraser. Also, for what purpose does hard pastels serve? Is it more like the consistency of crayon somewhat? The soft pastels seem so giving, so easy to blend. Just curious.

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Security is mostly a superstition....Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller

[This message has been edited by Laloba123 (edited March 19, 2001).]

LDianeJohnson
03-19-2001, 08:43 PM
Laloba123,

Here are some answers to your questions:

Harder pastels (pastel pencils, NuPastels, and the like) are used for detail, for sketching in your drawing or can be used alone for entire paintings. Some people use harder pastels exclusively for small detailed pieces. They are also handy when doing portraits, highlights in the eye, strands of hair, etc. I have them for quick fixes well, for getting into very small areas or for blending or glazing over already worked areas that are too strong in color or to crisp.

A kneaded eraser is needed only on occasion to make corrections or lift out areas that are too heavy with color. I rarely use one, but when I do am very grateful I have it.

There are two kinds of pastel: soft and oil. You mentioned the "crayon" consistency. Usually that is left to oil pastels. But soft pastel has a broader range of capability and can feel as soft and buttery as a crayon, yet contain no oils or wax. The less binder a pastel has, the more "buttery" the feel and flow of the stick. The surface too, is a major contributor to how the pastel flows. If you have a hard surface, even soft pastels will break and be rough to handle. If you have a softer or more toothy surface they will sing!

If you are using newsprint paper to test your pastels, that is ok for early practice. But you really want to get at least a pad of pastel paper at the art supply store to get a better reading on what they can do. After that, the sky's the limit! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

And since you purchased a half stick set of Rembrant pastels which are medium-soft, you are experiencing just a glimpse of what can be done. These are what I most recommend for people trying them out. From Rembrant, you can get harder or much softer pastels to supplement your range of colors and texture.

Have fun!

Diane



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L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

Laloba123
03-20-2001, 12:47 AM
Artistry:

Thank you for your feedback. I will print this one out. I did buy a pad. I tend to be soooo overly cautious and restrictive so when I saw I needed a "kneaded" eraser (according to the instructions), I decided to wait to "play" on my pastel paper until I got the eraser and clipboard. I went out promptly at lunch today and got the supplies so I will be playing in moments. I saw a book in the library about pastels not that long ago. I was sooo tempted to get it but I said, why would I do that? I don't have pastels :-) Thank you so, so, much for your advice.

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Security is mostly a superstition....Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Helen Keller

[This message has been edited by Laloba123 (edited March 19, 2001).]

ldallen
03-21-2001, 08:42 AM
Hi Diane,

I rarely venture away from "Oil Painting," but I adore pastels and I've been wanting to look at this forum for a while. I have all the equipment, a beautiful set of Rembrandt pastels, paper, kneeded erasers, but I have questions. Somewhere along the line I was told that pastel dust can be very hazardous to your health. Of course what isn't these days (including some oil painting materials), but I don't want to push my luck. Can you give me any feedback?

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Les

"It takes two people to do a painting - one to do the painting - the other to kill him before he ruins it!! (source unknown)

Roan
03-21-2001, 10:41 AM
Idallen:

Yes, pastel dust can be very hazardous to your health. It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Some brands contain toxic elements and many have no warnings or ratings (CP caution, AP approved) on them at all (btw, that is illegal and it is not being enforced by the government! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/mad.gif ).

Brands that use or know of that DO have warnings or ratings of ASTM or CP/AP on them are: Rowney, Winsor & Newton, Sennelier, most Rembrandt (read the labels and watch out for the cadmium ones. They changed their forumla recently and some of the colors now contain cadmium which is a carcenogenic), Great American (has several warnings on the color charts).

Brands that I use or know of that have no warnings or ratings at all: Schmincke and Unison.

These, of course, are not all the available brands. Just the ones I've been able to research.

Some of these have "non-toxic" or "no health labeling required" printed on the labels (Sennelier), but dust is dust and you should always follow the Pastelist Golden Rules to be safe:

1) Never breath or expose your skin to pastel dust
2) Wear a particle mask and either latex or finger gloves or a liquid protectant such as "Invisible Glove"
3) Don't smoke or eat or drink while you are using pastels.
4) Always wash your hands thoroughly after using them.
5) Never blow on your work. Take it outside and stand upwind
6) Use an easel that is tilted slightly forward so that the dust falls away from the painting and into a "catch tray" below
7) Mop, don't vacuum, and always use a damp cloth to wipe up pastel. A dry cloth will toss the dust into the air.

Do the majority of pastelists really follow these rules? Hah! Nope, but they should. I have tons of pastel books and several videos. While the books speak of protecting oneself from the dust, all of the progress pictures that show hands show them unprotected. The acclaimed Daniel Greene portrait video? No mask, no gloves, nada. At least he doesn't blow on his work!

As a note, I use Invisible Glove and wear a mask if I am removing pastel from my painting. I also have six air filters -- not fans, air filtering systems that cost around $250 each -- around my studio near my easel. My husband insisted on them :P

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">"Bu shoilleir a dhreach, 's bu luath
Shiubhal: Sith-fada b'e ainm." --</FONT c>
<FONT size="1">"Shining his coat, and speedy
His pace -- Si-Fada his name."
Si-Fada = "long pace"</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) <--- supply resources for pastelists!

[This message has been edited by Roan (edited March 21, 2001).]

LDianeJohnson
03-21-2001, 04:57 PM
Perfect Roan.

Only other thing I would add in light of what Roan wrote (by the way, this info would make a good article for the WC archives/school) is that small children should are in the studio, keep the pastels out of reach.

In terms of erasing pastel... If you need to erase, using a kneaded eraser to lift off the pastel is only one solution. You can also use a dampened sponge to wash off the pastel (only if using a prepared board), or use the side of an X-acto knife to very gently scrape off heavy applications of pastel. Just be careful not to scratch away the tooth of your surface however. And for a quick fix, use a light coat of spray fixative just in the spot you need it to add back in a bit of tooth to rework an area.

Diane


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L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

ldallen
03-21-2001, 08:46 PM
Thank you both very much for such wonderful and complete information. Although there are some who poo poo it, even with my oils I am trying to remember to wear gloves now. Since I am allergic to "dust" I may, unfortunately, need to pass. My son wants my pastels and I will pass this information on to him along with them. Again, thank you.

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Les

"It takes two people to do a painting - one to do the painting - the other to kill him before he ruins it!! (source unknown)

Roan
03-22-2001, 01:22 AM
Originally posted by Artistry:
Perfect Roan.

Thanks, Diane!

Only other thing I would add in light of what Roan wrote (by the way, this info would make a good article for the WC archives/school) . . .

LOL! Already in progress http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif I'm writing it up for my web site and will submit it as a WC article as well.

I've also added your comments, as well as excerpts from the 1989 Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act, and reference links for more information.

Would you like to read it before I submit? I don't want to miss anything nor go overboard http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif

You know how I can get :P




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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">"Bu shoilleir a dhreach, 's bu luath
Shiubhal: Sith-fada b'e ainm." --</FONT c>
<FONT size="1">"Shining his coat, and speedy
His pace -- Si-Fada his name."
Si-Fada = "long pace"</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;--- supply resources for pastelists!

LDianeJohnson
03-22-2001, 06:46 PM
Roan,

Be happy to look over your article, though I am confident it will be just great!

ldallen,

I have asthma. With gloves and either good ventilation/mask you can paint with ease.

Diane

digistyle
03-22-2001, 09:14 PM
This is a very enlightening thread. I recently purchased pastels for the first time. I bought hard and soft. I wasn't aware of the safety concerns. This will remind me to do some research as I experiment with different mediums. In my non-artistic life, I work in a R&D facility which uses any number of chemicals. Proper handling and safety precautions are a must. You can be sure I'll have my gloves and masks by this weekend! Thanks to all for the valuable information.

digistyle

Roan
03-22-2001, 10:22 PM
You're quite welcome, Digistyle!

Diane:

I have asthma too :P

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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">"Bu shoilleir a dhreach, 's bu luath
Shiubhal: Sith-fada b'e ainm." --</FONT c>
<FONT size="1">"Shining his coat, and speedy
His pace -- Si-Fada his name."
Si-Fada = "long pace"</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;--- supply resources for pastelists!

animal
03-24-2001, 10:32 PM
I started a pastel of a few horses on drawing paper using Mungyo Pastels and pastel pencils. They were real fun to use but messy ( as I was just learning), I guess you should keep a paper under your hand like when you`re drawing so it doesn`t smudge. Does the look of the pastel vary by the brand you use?

dmartellart
03-25-2001, 05:37 PM
Hi Animal, you'll find that you'll like some colors from one brand and some from another, and some colors you won't like in any brand. I haven't been happy with any greens and very few purples, so I mix those from primary colors. Go for the purest tones, and avoid muddy, smoky ones. Keep your color wheel in mind so you don't get surprises when you mix colors. For example, Prussian blues tend toward the green, so if you're trying for a good clear violet by mixing with a red...the red and green together muddy things up. Ultramarine blue, on the other hand, has no yellow, so mixing it with a cool, clear red makes a lovely violet.

I don't smear colors together to mix. I hatch colors over one another to get what I want, letting some of each color peep through the hatching. I also use a piece of the edge of the paper to try out color combinations first. For the hatching technique, Rembrandts and Winsor Newtons are too soft to start for me. I use black or blue Nupastels to lay in my darks. (I have some finished pieces posted in the March Sketchbook project.)

Animal, in no time at all you'll be like the rest of us, owning hundreds of colors, but working with just a few of your favorites! There's just something about pastel that grabs people and doesn't let them go!
Donna
One last thing, practice applying color without resting your hand on the paper. Use a Mahlstick if you have to.
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My favorite thing about pastel: you have to color over the lines!

[This message has been edited by dmartellart (edited March 25, 2001).]

animal
03-25-2001, 05:41 PM
Thanks Donna for your comments. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Roan
03-25-2001, 09:56 PM
Animal,

For best results when using pastels, I highly recommend that you purchase a forward tilting easel and use a catch tray underneath your work. As you work the pastel will fall down -- away from your work -- and collect in the tray.


I know a lot of people do work flat or raised and advocate it -- mostly, I believe, because they are used to working that way and don't want to change -- but it really is a pain to do so and it's very hard to keep things clean, even using a Mahl stick or hand bridge.

It takes abit to get used to it, but overall it's much neater.

I also know that some are going to disagree with me on this http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

------------------
<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">"Bu shoilleir a dhreach, 's bu luath
Shiubhal: Sith-fada b'e ainm." --</FONT c>
<FONT size="1">"Shining his coat, and speedy
His pace -- Si-Fada his name."
Si-Fada = "long pace"</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;--- supply resources for pastelists!

Wolfhound
03-27-2001, 12:59 PM
This is the first time I have looked at this group - and this is such a hepful thread. I have tried doft pastels several times but find them difficult to deal with so have had a go with pastel pencils with slightly better results. The health and safety info is quite worrying - are pastels realy so hazardous?
Also how upright is it practical to work. i have found the sheer messyness of pastels one of the most difficult things to deal with but will find it very difficult to work upright. But i will have a go.

[This message has been edited by Wolfhound (edited March 27, 2001).]

LDianeJohnson
03-27-2001, 04:24 PM
If you don't have or wish to purchase a mahlstick...I've used a old golf club for years. Just place the grip end along side your painting and you can move in/out and all along the shaft to keep from touching the surface with your hand. (A 9 iron or a 5 wood works great http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

Diane

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L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

Roan
03-27-2001, 07:53 PM
Originally posted by Wolfhound:
This is the first time I have looked at this group - and this is such a hepful thread. I have tried doft pastels several times but find them difficult to deal with so have had a go with pastel pencils with slightly better results.

Wolfhound,
Why don't you describe to us your working environment? I don't find pastels as messy as any other media -- just a difference between dust and wet paint all over the floor and on everything else.


The health and safety info is quite worrying - are pastels realy so hazardous?

As I stated in my earlier post, yes, they can be. I'm in the process of writing an in-depth article on this and I will post it here on WC when it is completed.

Also how upright is it practical to work. i have found the sheer messyness of pastels one of the most difficult things to deal with but will find it very difficult to work upright. But i will have a go.

It's very practical to work upright, just difficult for some to make the transition. I don't think I could work flat now http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif





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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">"Bu shoilleir a dhreach, 's bu luath
Shiubhal: Sith-fada b'e ainm." --</FONT c>
<FONT size="1">"Shining his coat, and speedy
His pace -- Si-Fada his name."
Si-Fada = "long pace"</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;--- supply resources for pastelists!

Wolfhound
03-28-2001, 03:01 PM
Originally posted by Roan:



I work in a spare room on quite a large table using a drawing board propped up at an about 25 degree angle. i like to work sitting down, I have tried standing in the past but find I can't settle.
It is the residual dust from the pastels that I find so hard to deal with - It contaminates my work without fail. I also get dirty hands when using soft pastels and no matter how often i wipe them i still seem to get marks on my work. I do use a clean sheet of paper under my hands but even this is not much help _ I must be naturally messy!
Any help/advice on tidy working practise will be gladly recieved http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

Roan
03-28-2001, 03:31 PM
Originally posted by Wolfhound:
[QUOTE]
I work in a spare room on quite a large table using a drawing board propped up at an about 25 degree angle. i like to work sitting down, I have tried standing in the past but find I can't settle.

Ah, I can't tolerate standing either http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif I have the Lobo Deluxe easel, forward tilt for pastelists or flat for watercolorists, and it is designed for sitting or standing. Might want to check that out. It's relatively inexpensive.

I'm sure there are tons of other easels that tilt forward and allow for sitting as well. Anyone else?

It is the residual dust from the pastels that I find so hard to deal with - It contaminates my work without fail. I also get dirty hands when using soft pastels and no matter how often i wipe them i still seem to get marks on my work. I do use a clean sheet of paper under my hands but even this is not much help _ I must be naturally messy!
Any help/advice on tidy working practise will be gladly recieved http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

No, you are not naturally messy! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif That's to be expected when you work flat or even at a 45 degree angle.

Residual dust isn't a problem when you work upright. You do learn to work with your hands and arms off of the painting surface. As I said earlier, it takes a bit of getting used to, but eventually you get the knack. You'll wonder how you ever managed to paint flat or raised http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

As for dirty fingers, if you are using non-ASTM approved pastels, I strongly urge you to wear either latex gloves or latex finger cots or leather finger cots. Pastel residue on your fingers can be absorbed into the skin and cause health hazards.

If your pastels confrom to ASTM D 4236, then I have two words for you: baby wipes. Buy a box of baby wipes and use those to wipe your hands and fingers on.

Another route is to try using chamois. I find pieces of chamois great for wiping my hands on and they are washable.

You may also wish to consider using a product such as "Invisible Glove", which is a cream you work into your hands and arms. It creates a barrier between yourself and the pastel dust. The only problem with Glove is that it will wear off if you do a lot of finger-blending.

Hope some of this helps and I'm sure someone else will have ideas they can post as well.





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<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">"Bu shoilleir a dhreach, 's bu luath
Shiubhal: Sith-fada b'e ainm." --</FONT c>
<FONT size="1">"Shining his coat, and speedy
His pace -- Si-Fada his name."
Si-Fada = "long pace"</FONT s>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;--- supply resources for pastelists!