View Full Version : Erasing With Pastels - NEED HELP

10-05-2006, 05:16 PM
Hi!! :wave:

I am an oil painter trying out pastels for the first time :eek: and I am having a few issues to say the least.

I have a set of the soft pastel pencils made by Gioconda.

I am wondering if it is possible to erase with pastels??? I have tried using a Mars eraser that I use with graphite drawings but the eraser is not working well with the pastels. The whole thing is sort of a huge mess as I have needed to correct proportions etc. and have tried erasing. Maybe it is more of a surface problem as I am working on a gessoed piece of wood. Or do most of you just layer on top of mistakes and corrections??

Any suggestions would be very helpful and VERY much appreciated!!

10-05-2006, 06:17 PM
Some time ago I took some lessons in pastels and learned that there is a product which is basically "canned air." You attach a long, narrow tube to the nozzle, and then direct the air to the area that you want to remove. The pastels are then "blowen off" leaving you with a clean area in which to begin again. Pastels cannot be "erased" as you have seen, with a traditional eraser.

Hope this has helped.


10-05-2006, 06:22 PM
For me, how I correct a mistake depends on what it is, where it is and how big it is. Here are some corrections to try if you don't think you can correct the error by painting over it.

Try a kneaded eraser instead of a Mars. Dab at it instead of scrubbing.
Try a can of compressed air, although if you've already tried erasing it, the problem area is probably already compacted into the gesso and won't blow off. (do this one outside or in an area where you won't breathe in the loosened (sp?) dust.
Try using a bristle paint brush to brush the error off. This works well on larger area corrections.
To correct in small spaces try a clicker eraser.

Chance are highly unlikely that you'll get rid of all the pastel but you should be able to remove enough so that you still have some tooth left to paint over.

Hope at least one of these helps.

Deborah Secor
10-05-2006, 06:32 PM
Any of these suggestions should help, but yes, just layer over the mistakes. One of the strengths of pastel is that it's opaque and tends to cover well, plus you usually work from dark up to the lights, so you can cover with a nice dark color and layer up to the mediums and lights, as in oils. Gesso has a rather slick surface, however, so it might take a rather steady hand. Next time try mixing some extra fine pumice into the gesso, or puchase a jar of Golden fine pumice gel. You could layer that right over the gesso, too...

Your work is very interesting!

Hope this helps...

Mary Brigid
10-05-2006, 06:38 PM
I am delight to see that Deborah works over the area with a darker colour and continues with the lighter ones on top. Gee I thought I was breaking rules doing this. I have never heard of canned air before!!!! I work very heavy handed and I think this is one I would love to try.

10-05-2006, 10:23 PM
Hello all!
I work from time to time with an airbrush, and i think that it is also can be used to erase pastel ,jest don’t connect the color jar…lol.

10-05-2006, 11:32 PM
I can erase just fine, but it might depend on the paper your using. In Diana Pontings workshop, we had an eraser that looked like a mechanical pencil. It worked fine on Lacarte and I use it on Art Spectrum. I have no problem at all with this basic eraser. Am I missing something? Why go to an air can?

Deborah Secor
10-05-2006, 11:47 PM
The air can doesn't abrade the paper like an eraser of any kind can. You can use the straw on the can to direct the stream, and very carefully control how much you remove by how close you hold it to the surface and how hard or long you pull the trigger. If you tip the can too much, however, you can sometimes dispense a little bit of the propellant, so I wouldn't use it on La Carte. You can so easily remove the sandy surface with the slightest bit of moisture that it would be a real danger--but La Carte is the only one that needs that kind of care.

I should mention to you, Lisa, that softer pastels cover much more easily than harder ones, so if your pastels are relatively hard you might find it very difficult to cover your mistakes. For a 'hardness scale' of pastels (hotly debated, but handy) you can go to www.dakotapastels.com.


10-06-2006, 01:14 AM
I also just color over my mistakes, but before I do that, I remove the top layer of the "mistake" with maskin tape, dubbing the color of. Then I correct the mistake and work on. :)

10-06-2006, 01:53 AM
Thanks Dee. Makes perfect sense now...

10-06-2006, 07:53 AM
I personally just use a basic eraser which rubs out the pastel just fine as if it wasn't even there. Perhaps this relates to the paper and pastels I use!

Deborah Secor
10-06-2006, 12:57 PM
Actually, I rub out my mistakes with a plain old foam house-painting brush. I work on Wallis and simply use the 3" foam pad-brush to erase away what I don't like. I reclaim Wallis paper all the time using this method! In fact, for me it's an indispensable tool. I use it to tone the paper, rubbing a layer of pastel deep into the tooth of the Wallis sandpaper, so that when I want to erase I can simply whisk it away with my handy-dandy foam brush down to the origal color, and recover whatever I want. I have pieces of Wallis paper that have gone through many incarnations before becoming framable paintings. Very cost-saving!


10-06-2006, 02:54 PM
I use an old hog bristle brush, for small areas, and then either dab with a putty eraser for small areas, or if it's the entire picture. Then I use an old nail brush, then take it outside and give it a gentle shake and tap. Then back inside I roll my putty eraser across it like you would roll when making long dough shapes.

If you use one of the really softy putty erasers, clean it on an old rag in the same manner, and then knead it until it's clean enough to use again.

At college we were told that if you place one of these erasers in a jeans pocket when you wash the jeans, it also cleans the eraser? I haven't tried it yet, no jeans to wash :D

Alachua Artist
10-06-2006, 05:20 PM
I work from time to time with an airbrush, and i think that it is also can be used to erase pastel, just don’t connect the color jar…
good point! :lol:

10-07-2006, 07:24 PM
I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for your great advice and suggestions!!:clap:

I am thinking that maybe it is the gessoed surface that I am using that is causing the trouble. I went over some areas with a soft oil pastel and that seemed to help but I am still unable to cover the mistakes completely as they are in black.

Next time I will work on proper paper or use a grit or pumace gel as Dee suggested.