03-13-2008, 10:03 AM
Hi Everyone
I have just completed a big pastel painting, using various makes of pastel of a water, mountains, sky scene.

I was realy thrilled with the water untill I put the mountains and sky in, and the pastel dust has fallen from the mountains and sky all over my water, ruinning it.

I had my easel in the upright position, should you always do pastel with the easel board flat?

Should I buy myself a Pastel Fixer Spray and fix each bit as I re paint the water and try to get it looking the way it was, before I put the mountains and sky in.

I'm using a Full Size Sheet of Fine Sanded FISHER 400 Pastel Paper.

Any advice or help would be most welcome as I feel its my best pastel painting I have ever done.

So does my Wife and She Is My Biggest Critic LOL LOL LOL

Trust me LOL LOL

I Joke Not LOL LOL

03-13-2008, 10:13 AM
You need forward tilting easel and the dust falls off the painting instead of on it.

Have you tried lightly blowing on the water to remove the dust the fell onto the water? I have used canned air successfully for this problem.

Don't use fixative, it will just ruin it even more.

03-13-2008, 10:16 AM
Ideally, you should work with your easel tilted forward about 5 degrees. Release your board from its moorings and tilt it even further forward every now and then and tap the back of it to remove any loose particles. And, when you start on the finishing stages, work from top to bottom, dark to light.

Deborah Secor
03-13-2008, 11:15 AM
I suggest you first turn your board upside down... then bang the loose pastel dust off of it. That way you won't have more dust polluting the part that's finished and successful. Once you have as much off as you can manage, put the board back on your easel and use the compressed air AT A DISTANCE from the surface. If you get too close it will erase the painting. Then, if you still have dust clinging to the pasteled water, I suggest you use a long, thin piece of charcoal to lightly go over it, or try a small color shaper, if you have one. Depending on the size this could take a awhile, but it will remove that white-ish pastel dust from atop the darker parts. It's not stuck permanently unless you use fixative--which will make far more of a mess in the long run.

This is why so many pastelists try to work from top to bottom! I have trouble working on a board that's tilted forward, even as little as Marie suggests, although it makes sense to do it. Instead I try to periodically smack the back of the board to remove loose dust as I go along. So, for instance, I might paint the sky, smack away on the board, then go into painting the water. There's no avoiding that layer of loose dust falling, but lighter layers are easier to manage.

Hope it works out and you'll show us your painting when it's done...


Donna T
03-13-2008, 01:02 PM
Hi Tony, You're not the only one to have this kind of disaster. I did the same thing when I painted a snow-covered field first and then put in the sky. Big blue streaks of sky blue on my pristine white snow. I've since learned that working from top to bottom, and occasionally turning the painting over and smacking off the loose stuff (outside) prevents this problem. Good luck with fixing your painting, I'd like to see it to!


Donna A
03-13-2008, 01:24 PM
Hi, bose. All very good suggestions from the others. The tilted-forward easel is such a staple---both in pastel painting and in oil or some styles of acrylic painting---each for different reasons, but seems like that is so rarely addressed. Tipping the easel forward is such a good and useful habit to get into. For pastels, for the fall of the dust beyond the painting, as noted by several, and down into a catch-tray---and for oil painting and some acrylic styles, as well, to keep the glare of the light from reflecting off the shiney/wet painting into the artist's eye, making the painting difficult to see well. At least with our matte surfaces, we don't have to worry about glare, which I so appreciate, including when photoing the finished work.

I think it's useful to set up a quick test situation when 'developing a new working habit.' Just nice to observe a few minutes how something flows with your working style and learn a couple of things where it is not a bother---or even crucial---and then put it into play on an actual painting.

Try several ways of patting (to pounding) the pack of a "snowed on" painting to see what works best for your particular materials, style of working, your 'hand' and your surroundings (as in where do you need to take the painting to knock off the loose pigment that does not cause a problem for the studio or living areas. If you use canned air, which can be so useful, particularly for larger areas---practice on a test painting piece to see how much pressure, how close to spray and for how long to get safe use without ruining your painting. So much more fun to test on something that can go into the trash than on a painting you've put all your heart into and then---loose! But a gentle blow from our breath can dislodge fine little bits of dust quickly.

I just have always suggested that we don't blow or do other things (dislodge pastel with a brush) that will get our pastel dust airborne in the studio. It's one thing for it to obey gravity falling straight down onto the easel tray when we are painting, and quite another to get it circulating in the air! One little occasional blow is not likely to cause concern, but a habit of dislodging significant amounts of pastel dust into the air in the space in which you are working is not a good health choice---and it surely does do a great job of tracking colorful footprints beyond the easel, as well!

I've uploaded a pdf file Removing Pastel that was actually written more for removing a layer or more of pastels, and sometimes taking it back down to bare painting surface, but there are a couple of comments that might be useful to be aware of here---including the Transparent Packing Tape section if you ever had such a strong layer of 'snow' that you needed another assertive=to=aggressive way of removing while leaving the underlayers in very fresh, pure state. Best wishes! Donna ;-}

eagle owl
03-14-2008, 06:30 AM
White bread will remove virtually all of the offending pastel. Use a smallish piece - without the crust - and rub lightly over the pastel. I find sliced white the best. The bread will crumble all over the place but that doesn't matter. Use a fresh piece when it becomes clogged with pastel. When all the pastel has been rubbed off bang the back of the painting to dislodge crumbs. You may need a brush on Fisher paper to get rid of stray bits of bread.

I usually use fixative at that stage to get back a bit more tooth.

How is the Fisher paper? I was thinking of trying it.

03-22-2008, 01:39 AM
A good breath of lung power usually does it for me, or compressed air at a distance will work too. Some Fixitives are kinda bad news because they tend to darken the work, you have to be very careful when using them and most of the best pastels I know of, rarely or never use fixitives and when they do it is very sparingly and use a fixitive called Latour by Sennelier because it effects the colors the lest.