View Full Version : HELP! Wallis paper-brushing pastel off?

05-13-2006, 09:14 AM

Does brushing pastel off Wallis paper with a soft sable brush affect the tooth?
I read somewhere that wiping with paper towel makes it like bad velour! Presumably lint attaches to the tooth, rather than wiping the tooth out. I am in the habit of dusting off unwanted pastel on other paper. I am doing a large commission on Wallis and want to erase/take off excess pastel on a part that is rather heavy (too built up) and I am not happy with.

This is only my second pastel on Wallis.


05-13-2006, 09:18 AM
I use a bristle brush...works great!!

Paula Ford
05-13-2006, 10:03 AM
Yup, bristle brushes do work wonderfully.


05-13-2006, 11:12 AM
One more vote for a good stiff bristle brush. I have found that the small stencil brushes work well. If all else fails, take the paper outside and use canned air with the small tube in place to remove the pastel.

By the way, you will only get these early answers from those who occasionally make a mistake. :D


05-13-2006, 11:44 AM
brush away - and if you work over it and it still does look right - brush it again.

and if that area ruins the painting, put the paper in the tub and wash it all way :) dry the paper and reuse it. and the tooth STILL won't be affected! :D

Wallis is cheap when you account for the reworkability and reusability.

05-14-2006, 03:50 AM
Thanks Tres, Paula, John and Khourianya.

I have used the bristle brush and removed pastel to the underpainting (which is pastel spread with sable brush) and repainted the area successfully. Yeah! This must be the measure of this paper's workability...all other papers I use a sable brush for removal to avoid damage. Wallis must be tough...which makes me braver! Especially as I always make mistakes...lol!
Might post this one as a WIP...errors and challenges make it more interesting.


05-14-2006, 06:32 AM
I agree that Wallis does invite more boldness in that we know we can brush boo-boos off and re-do areas as much as we need to. While one CAN remove pastels from Canson, say, it is always a bit trickier. Art Spectrum paper's the only other one that's easy to brush off and I still think Wallis allows better reworking overall.

Donna A
05-16-2006, 04:59 PM
Hi! There are some better ways of taking excess or unwanted pastel off of Wallis or other durable sanded papers. I'll upload the 2-page pdf sheet with some alternate methods of "Removing Pastel." Some really useful ideas in there! Do hope you take a look!

My biggest concern with using a brush (either white bristle or sable) is that it gets the pastel particles air-born-----THE very thing we want to avoid THE most for our health in working with our beloved pastels!!! Air-born, we can not avoid breathing in the particles to our lungs. Blowing off pastel dust is not wise, either.

And there are so many safer methods, that sometimes also have other attributes which serve us even better! Take good care! Donna ;-}

05-17-2006, 06:21 AM
Thanks for that Donna. I will be trying the tape soon. I dread to think what I have breathed in over the years! Am much more careful these days.

You have lots of interesting information on your website...I printed out the info on fixatives previously.


Kitty Wallis
05-17-2006, 03:59 PM
HI all,

Thought you might appreciate a few words from the horse's mouth. :)

I use old tooth brushes to remove pastel from my paper, scrubbing hard.

About toxic duxt: I've been brushing pastel off my paintings with aforesaid toothbrushes for 40 some years. Many of those years were spent working in the studio evey day. I have had myself tested for heavy metals about 4 years ago and I have no cadmiums or any other heavy metals in my system except for a trace of cobalt, (my naturpath says cobalt isn't much of a concern) and arsenic(which is a major concern but doesn't come from pigments). this in spite of the years of making pastels for student workshops. Using PILES of dry dusty pigemts with no protection. Much more exposure than any artist might face in many lifetimes.

I hope this will alleviate fears. We live in a paranoid age about toxicity, and rightly so because there are many lies out there. But when I started my business and looked carefully at the warnings and regulations I was surprised to discover how many lies there are that blow toxicity dangers out of proportion. Manufacturers and retailers are frightened of litigation and protect themselves by overstating the dangers.

Fortunately I have no allergy to dust, so that isn't a concern for me.

05-17-2006, 11:58 PM
Thanks Kitty, glad to read that. I have been breathing it for 30 years. Have been reading all sorts of scary things, so glad you have no effects after 40 years!

05-20-2006, 02:23 PM
As a youth I ran across streets without first looking, and never got run over. As I grew older, I learned to always look before crossing. The same could be said for brushing/blowing off pastel dust. Although many people are not affected by the ingredients in pastel, some are and one never knows when the next breath of pastel dust will be one too many for anyone. Allergic reactions to anything may occur at any time in our lives. I don't want to pay for tests on myself to determine if I've over "pasteled" my system when there are other means of removing it from my paper.

Since Donna has so kindly provided several useful alternatives to the brushing/blowing technique, it only seems prudent to use one or more of them. I happen to belong to the "kneaded eraser" group, but think I just might have to try the packing tape technique. I started using a kneaded eraser many years ago when I first started using pastel on Canson paper. It works very well on Canson as you can just "place, press, and remove" rather than rubbing so the surface of the Canson paper doesn't get disturbed. Of course eventually the kneaded eraser gets so filled with pastel it begins to crumble so I always have more than one on hand.


05-20-2006, 11:32 PM
Hi peggy,

I agree and now use a mask when doing my brushing off thing. I am also a "kneaded rubber " member and used it a lot on Canson paper. I also use it for blending too...great for picking up a bit of colour and spreading to blend or fill gaps. I will also try the packing tape for removal.

05-20-2006, 11:42 PM
Hi peggy,

I agree and now use a mask when doing my brushing off thing. I am also a "kneaded rubber " member and used it a lot on Canson paper. I also use it for blending too...great for picking up a bit of colour and spreading to blend or fill gaps. I will also try the packing tape for removal.

Did you know that pastel dust can remain airborn for up to 10 hours?! A mask is a good idea if you are so inclined, but it won't prevent that darn dust from staying in the air long after you've left the studio. For anyone with young children or pets this can be a problem too if you don't have a studio in which you can shut the door to keep them out.


Donna A
05-21-2006, 04:32 PM
Ten hours! Wow! I'm always surprised at how much general dust I see settled in the rest of the house in the (many) spots I don't get around to dusting often. :-) I know the dryer the air, the more dust will hang in the air. When I'm framing, I spray-mist water into the air around my working area to raise the humidity.

I can't stand to use a mask----or gloves, either, as some do. And then the "colored dust" that settles down on everything----no need to augment that, either. :-)

When I added on my painting studio 20-some years ago, with pale tile floors to match the berber carpet, I realized after the first week I could see my tracks walking away from the pastel easel, taking the color on my shoe soles with me, tracking into the pale carpeting in the living/dining room. That's when I learned it was also a nice idea to put a rug under the easel---in my case, an inexpensive "oriental" rug, which caught the dust and held it, and did camouphlaged the little veil of color. It also has the wonderful side-effect of padding the floor where I might drop a stick of pastel, making breaks sooo much less likely! My vacuum has a HEPA filter, so catches all the misc. dust well when I vacuum.

I also have HEPA and Ionic Breeze filter fans, the latter being blessed silent! This is as much for general dust as for any pastel dust and and any oil solvent that goes into the air from my oil painting, then also cooking odors from the near-by kitchen, and kitty litter box (kept in the studio) etc.

Several years ago when someone wrote an article published in American Artist magazine about how the artist stepped out of her clothing before leaving her studio, washing her painting clothing separately from her family's clothing, etc, etc, etc, there was a huge hubbub and I wrote an article in our MAPS newsletter which the PJ asked to use as a Letter to the Editor. I commented that I always make sure I stand upwind when pumping my gasoline to avoid the fumes, had been careful when spreading mulch in the garden to not breath in the little bits of it flying in the wind, knew that joggers needed to be aware that in the summer, the tire particles in the air became extremely high and it had been measured scientifically----and would be reported on the news and weather----and that my biggest concern was when I spayed my hairspray most every day, holding my breath then exiting the bathroom immediately. So---it's not just pastel dust to consider, but also ANYTHING but clean air which might be sucked into our lungs. Nothing but clean air belongs. Smoking---while still a popular habit for some and many live to be quit elderly smoking avidly, others develop lung cancer and/or other issues at sometimes fairly young ages.

We each need to do what makes good common sense to us in the long run. Peggy has shared some wonderfully thought-provoking comments and very useful information, and her having worked very closely with many professional pastelists, from across the USA and from Canada, in her position on the Board of International Assoc. of Pastel Societies, and having met her and becoming aware of her heartful and honest interests in both the artists and the medium, I repect her knowledge and awareness! Kitty is a lovely person, as well---and has created a marvelous paper and her paintings are gorgeous---strong, bold, exciting!!! And I'm so thankful that her robust constitution has not been compromised at all by the pastel dusts! This is a great forum where we can look at all the sides to help us make our personal choices. We are very lucky! Very best wishes, all! Donna ;-}

05-22-2006, 07:06 AM
Will take all this interesting information on board. Thanks. Actually, my brushing off is nearly always done at the end of the day, so, maybe I havn't breathed too much in.

05-25-2006, 10:15 PM
I use a bristol brush a fan brush, have even washed the paper....it stands up to amazing amount of abuse!!!!