View Full Version : my farewell to dust

ural jones
03-15-2015, 05:53 PM
I have painted with oil for a very long time, and wanted to pick up my old pastel sticks and see if I could find a little comfort by using them. I needed to avoid the toxicity of oil paints. (the water type oils are puny)
I have always enjoyed doing landscapes and when I came across my favorite pastel landscape artist, I was inspired to go ahead and try.
If you aren't familiar with Fritz Thaulow, you owe it to yourself to see his work.
Anyway, I have picked up a terrible, hacking cough and I cannot shake it.
For two days, I wore a facemask. My throat hurts. I need to say goodbye to these little sticks. I plan another visit to my doctor to get another opinion, but the prescription cough syrup didn't work last time.
I do not want to say good bye to all of you nice people, however. So, if it is permissible, I could stop in and see the beauty you folks create once in a while.
Maybe I ought to show ya'll my last two pieces as these are the final ones.I'll use the Gallery to show them.
Thank you one and all for the fantastic assistance and advice, for Robert and Jackies' critical reviews and most of all the wonderful advise you gave me.....but I will be back to check on everyone.

water girl
03-15-2015, 06:17 PM
Oh, no! So sorry to hear this. You are always welcome to join us.. Yes, please share you last two pastels and please let us know how you are feeling.

03-15-2015, 06:23 PM
Oh, no, Ural! I'm so sorry! We will miss you terribly. You have so much knowledge to share and have been such a generous contributor of your time. Not to mention you have a wicked sense of humor! Your doctor thinks the pastel dust is the culprit? I hope your cough resolves. Please do check back, and let us know how you're doing. I enjoyed looking at the paintings of Fritz Thaulow. He was a fantastic landscape artist. And you say you find water-soluble oils puny? About 30 years ago I bought a small set made by Pelican, and only completed one painting with them, but the painting still looks rich and beautiful (if I may say so!) today. Later, I'll take a photo of it and post it in that thread of oldies. And I'll look for your latest pastels in the Gallery. Perhaps if soft pastels won't work, you could try oil pastels. Then we'd have to visit that forum to critique what you post. :) Don't be a stranger--do come back to visit!

ural jones
03-15-2015, 06:26 PM
OK, thanks , I will.

Equus Art
03-15-2015, 06:30 PM
Oh, Ural, that is such a shame! I hope you can get your cough under control and that perhaps being away from these dusty sticks will resolve the problem for you. I'm so sad.

PLEASE check in on us as frequently as you want to. Just because you won't be able to paint with pastels certainly doesn't mean your presence here is not needed. You have been a valuable contributor and one of our family here in the Pastel forum. You are always welcome!


ural jones
03-15-2015, 06:46 PM
Aww, you guys are the greatest. I will be back often. I have loved art for a long, long time. And, although I am no longer able to make it, I can find enjoyment in trying to help in some manner or other.
Thank you all !

03-15-2015, 08:21 PM
Ural, please do stick around and participate!

Also, while I can understand needing to stop using sticks, consider pastel pencils or Pan Pastels. Pan Pastels generate little or no dust. They are applied with tools, the Sofft sponges. If you sell off your sticks in the Swap Shop you could try a starter 5 or 10 color Painters set to see if you can work with them.

I found they worked best on plain or coated paper, not sanded papers.

Harder pastels generate less dust than softer ones. Pastel pencils are hard pastels with a wooden case, so they keep your hands clean. Again you may ned some precautions tapping a little powder off the painting but it's much less than soft pastels. There are ways around it.

Painterly effects can work with Pans. There's a good huge thread on Pan Pastels in the Pastel Learning Center forum, Having a Ball with Pan Pastels. I started my tulip with them.

I mention this because those DO count as pastels and anyhing you did in Pastel Pencils or Pan Pastels is still posted in this section. It is a little tricky getting a hard edge with Pans so it's sometimes good to do some finishing touches with the pastel pencils or hard sticks.

Pans really don't generate dust if handled right. If it starts coming off the paper you put too much on. Lifting with a kneaded eraser allows more to be added. Colors blend like paint so you don't need a large palette, though I love having the full range with al the convenience colors. Still in your shoes I wouldn't start with the full range but 10 Painters - equivalent of a basic oils set. Mixing primaries, black, white, green, violet, yellow ochre, dark brown and reddish brown. I use that for a plein air kit in a little 10 pan tray.

They are a bit cheaper in sets and come with some basic tools in the sets. Tools are varied, plastic painting knives with disposable socks that go on them or sponges of various shapes. My favorite is the wedge sponge and I can do a whole painting with that one, it's like painting with a 3/4" flat brush.

Of hard pastels Color Conte are the least dusty. When I sketch with those I sometimes don't get loose dust at all, and they work very well for a sketch style. So there are alternatives. These are basically Conte Crayons with a texture like firm charcoal. Smudging looks good and the colors mix well, 12 colors is enough to tell. Of course their pastel pencils you don't even get fingers dirty unless you finger smudge.

Caveat to this approach - gone are the textural effects of big soft impasto strokes with super soft pastels.

Also completely dustless - Oil Pastels, which has its own section. Oilies handle differently. Not all the artist grade ones have toxicity problems. If it's the turpenoid the watersoluble ones work well. If it's pigments then Neopastels are probably the best non toxic ones. Check out that forum for more information on them or click the link in my signature, I wrote up a big website on oil pastels, reviewed all the artist grade brands and several cheap ones. They're fun and may be a good alternative.

Pan Pastels are wonderful though and do actually rate as the Least Dusty form of pastel I have ever used.

Oh! Other media that may give effects similar to pastels - gouache. Deborah Secor wound up taking up gouache from pastels and they too have a lovely matte look and can handle with just water. Very powerful painting medium. Check out the gouache thread in the watercolor forum, or watermedia, not sure where it is but there is a Gouache Corner.

03-15-2015, 09:52 PM
Hate to see you give up on them. But you do what you need too.:(

I have real sever issues with chemicals and dust. I have a degenerating lung disease and asthma . I live in the high desert if I dust a shelf cough cough gasp , or dust storms the same or clean up and stir up dust gasp cough hope i dont turn blue cough cough.:eek: :eek:

Oils I loved them decades ago the solvents kill me now haven't tried some oils with only walnut oil or the pure linseed oil average paint with linseed oil bothers me especially while they are drying . I can eat flax seed. but the flaxseed is linseed so I dont know what else is in oil paints. :confused:

Watercolor and acrylics mostly I am okay. But some acrylics the larger size in jars will have a very very strong latex smell like a freshly painted house that if in a closed up room will choke me up.:(

Now with pastels I do them flat then stand it up and tap it off into a trash can or a save tinfoil tray. I NEVER blow the painting off . In our house a air purifier or 2 runs 24/7 and fans 24/7 . 1 air purifier is within 4' of where i do art work maybe its sucking dusts up before they get to me. To tell the truth regular household dust is worse than the pastel dust for me. Maybe Im careful about not breathing the pastel dust but household dust is everywhere here. I really only use masks when the area is in a dust storm or someone is sick.

But a fixative is just horrid. I can spray 1 with fixative outside let it stay there hours and bring it back in gasp cough . I have to wait 8-12 hrs before I can be around that painting. Tried several brands the ONLY one I can tolerate is spectrafix. I use various brands the lions share is Blick and Schminkie I also use pastel pencils various brands.

I am so sensitive to air quality waiting too long in traffic can cause problems or when a women with a large dose of perfume or a guy with a heavy cologne smell walks by or waits on me I can fell the pipes constrict .

I watch the local air quality if its green life is good by :thumbsup:


but when it gets yellow on the high end I can feel it. It can cause me a sore throat when it gets near orange sometimes. orange means I hibernate.:eek: :( .

Good Luck

03-16-2015, 08:43 AM
Ural, So sorry to hear this. The dust in pastels caused me to stop using them many times in the past. I now wear a dust mask whenever I use them - and that has helped a lot. Maybe you'll give it another try in the future! Good luck to you!


03-16-2015, 09:11 AM
Ural! I'm so sorry to hear this! Of course your health comes first. Of course of course.
But please continue to visit and comment. Your opinions are valuable and helpful.
And maybe pans would be good? As Robert said? Or pastel pencils? I don't remember what brand your old pastels were. Or the surface you were using. I paint flat and I don't make a lot of dust at all. I think I paint gently.
Wishing you the best of luck. Get healthy first. And then visit us and chat up a storm. (Btw, the mask you mention..was it one of those good ones? Not just a dust cover from the hardware store?).
Sending healing wishes.

ural jones
03-16-2015, 10:31 AM
Thanks Robert, Rick,Don, Jay. I don't want to leave the forum so I'll look in occasionally to see the pretty paintings. Keep it up!
Yea, the mask was a cheepie. All this and I am also tired and old...

03-16-2015, 05:20 PM
Ural, sorry to hear about the dust problems. I always look forward to your posts, so please, keep on dropping in.

03-16-2015, 05:38 PM
Ural. Stop that. We're the same age.

ural jones
03-16-2015, 07:04 PM
Oh, OK Jay. Well, I'll just say I'm tired 'cause my little three yr.old gson wears me slam out! LOL!

03-16-2015, 08:58 PM
Just looking at my cats wears me out! I bought the expensive Totobobo mask. It is plastic and sticks to my face. But then, I don't like wearing any mask.

Barbara WC
03-16-2015, 10:22 PM

I am so sorry to hear of your problems, but don't give up on art!

I have had a couple of scares with pastels- once so bad, i had started wheezing and couldn't breath- my doctor gave me an inhaler after that episode- and sent me to a lung specialist for testing! Everything calmed down after I quit pastels for awhile. I gave up pastels for a couple of years.

I have also played with watercolor, but it's just not my "love". I was determined to get back to pastels.

I bought a desk top air purifier, and it sits close to my easel- I cannot tell you how much of a difference that has made. I also now always wear a mask- this one, which lets you breath (I find it better than the Totobobo personally): http://www.natlallergy.com/n95-mask-with-respirator-valve-10-per-pack.html

I also discovered that different brands affect me- I can't use Mt. Vision or Art Spectrum- they cause a sore throat, more more worrysome is that they make me wheeze and my throat tightens up, but Terry Ludwig, Rembrandts, Diane Townsends, Great Americans and Senneliers bother me the least. Unisons and Girualts give me a sore throat but don't make me wheeze. This was a LONG process to determine which ones bothered me, because I went through a process where I only used one brand for a couple of weeks to see how they affected me. I did this because I had started pastels and used Rembrandts for several months (without a mask) and didn't have any problems. When I started introducing new brands is when I started having a scratchy throat and breathing/wheezing problems. Paper also makes a difference, I react least to PastelMat and Sennelier La Carte, but more aggressive sanded papers seem to create more dust that bothers me.

I work with my easel on a hardwood floor, even though there is a rug in my art room, and I NEVER vacuum the floor under the easel- I wipe it up with a wet cloth only- even though I have a catch paper under my easel for the extra dust that falls off the paper, and it does accumulate in there, I'm amazed at how much dust ends up under the easel, with all the precautions I take (air purifier near easel, catch tray of paper under painting, etc). On the rug nearest my easel, I have an old sheet that I wash once in awhile. You could use a sheet if your easel is on a rug.

Another option is to paint outdoors. I did this for awhile in my backyard, but I now have severe pollen allergies to all the trees, mold and weeds in my area, so I mostly stay indoors, otherwise I'm sick from the pollen.

Just depends how much investigation you want to do, but I know there are asthmatics on this forum that are able to work with pastels, but it takes a lot of work and determination to keep dust out of the lungs!

For oils, have you tried working solvent-free? I'm currently playing with Daniel Smith and a tube of Winsor Newton watersoluble oils, but want to try some traditional oils too. I plan on getting 5 tubes of M. Graham oil paints, which only have walnut oil in them- and you don't need any solvents, you can clean your brushes with oil in between colors (you don't need to use solvents with linseed oil paints, but I don't like the smell very much of linseed). There are also some newish products on the market, like Gamblin makes a solvent free gel. I too am bothered by solvents, and have a hard time sometimes in my weekly portrait sessions with the oil painters, even though they are only allowed to work with Gamasol only (which apparently is non-toxic, but I still get a headache and feel bad when standing next to an oil painter too long).

Anyway, there are ways to work with pastels and oils, even with your breathing issues, but it depends how much time, money and investigation you want to do to pinpoint exactly what is bothering you (like in my case, it's only certain brands of pastels that are the worst, although I've developed sensitivity to the point that I have to use a mask, even with REmbrandts).

Good luck!

03-16-2015, 10:34 PM
Barbara has some good points about different brands. At any rate, I am glad you'll still be around!

03-17-2015, 05:52 AM
I have tried all sorts of masks - I have to wear them when working with glass powders - the only comfy one is the Totobogo, it is good even tho it sticks a bit.

I do wonder if the cough is definitely caused by the pastel dust. I have a friend who does not paint at all, she has had a hacking cough for months now, nothing showing on Xray, she just coughs and coughs. So it might not be the pastel dust at all.

Barbara WC
03-17-2015, 11:01 AM
I do wonder if the cough is definitely caused by the pastel dust. I have a friend who does not paint at all, she has had a hacking cough for months now, nothing showing on Xray, she just coughs and coughs. So it might not be the pastel dust at all.

Good point Jackie. When my allergies are at my worst, or when I have a cold, I take longer these days to recover than when I was much younger. Although I do know that during these times, pastel dust usually makes my condition worse. But you're right, pastel dust may not be the primary cause, but could exacerbate the situation...

SAS Designs
03-17-2015, 01:18 PM
I can empathize - I'm ( almost) 70 years young, and my allergies & asthma were so out of control after a bout with the flu a few years ago, I finally went to a doctor. Now take several medications, and just started "immunology" injections ( much improved since I had them about 55 years ago, shorter duration, longer acting) AND covered by Medicare.
During the worst times ( indoors in a very small house in Western MA) the only pastels I could use were Pan Pastels ( as Rob describes) and eventually started working with ( and it IS work for me, steep learning curve) watercolors and colored pencil ( much easier!)
So I hope you find a "work-around" and also consider seeing a specialist in lung issues, to see if you can be helped. I was very suspicious myself, age and also quite a bit of chemotherapy a few years ago ( thankfully successful) but didn't help my immune system.
REALLY - please do see a doctor who understands all these issues. It helps.
Good luck

ural jones
03-17-2015, 03:21 PM
Barbara, Jackie, Suzy I did see a doctor. I went last Sept. and was treated with Prednizone and a Codine-cough syrup. Thinking I had bronchitis , I guess. That did absolutely nothing.So, after I tired from the continuing cough, I returned to the Dr. and he thinks a blood pressure med. I have taken for years is the culprit. He has changed the meds. and we are waiting to see what happens. It would be nice to "pick up sticks" again.
Jackie, Blayne purchased the facemask you mentioned and likes it. I will also order one of those if all goes well. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions and recommendations. I agree with others who said the Soft Pastel Threads are the Greatest!:wave:

SAS Designs
03-17-2015, 03:47 PM
oooohhhh...the dreaded Prednizone. That was a last resort for my doc during a bad infection, inflammation. But only had to take it for a very short time. Use steroid inhalers, they're very helpful with much fewer side effects. But there are many other options for maintenance. Think it's important when dealing with these issues, to see a specialist, if you haven't yet. The contraindications of so many medicines ( high blood pressure causing another problem) is what many of my peers are dealing with, as we get "wiser" ( not older :-) )
Hadn't thought of a mask - will definitely look into getting the one Jackie likes.