View Full Version : Allergic

04-04-2003, 03:53 PM
I recently tried using chalk pastels because I'd looked at a few examples, and I really liked how they turned out. I got about 1/4 of the way through "expirimenting" and I started having trouble breating. I have asthma, and I think the chalk dust, even though i was carefully pushing it into the trash, was still getting into the air. Is there any mask or special pastel that I can use to reduce either the amount of dust, or something else that won't trigger my asthma? One of my art teachers suggested oil pastels, but I really like the feel and outcome of chalk much better than oil.
Any suggestions?:( :confused:

04-04-2003, 04:13 PM
hello Julius :)

I think Mo's the person you need to talk to... she too has recently started using oil pastels again because of the dust created by the soft pastels. I'm sure she'll reply to your post soon.

I use op's sometimes for sketching. Approach them with the will to experiment and have fun and you might come to love them. There's an 'Oil pastel info' thread somewhere in this forum. Having said that, they're an entirely different medium. A mask like the kind cyclists wear to protect themselves from air pollution is probably your best bet.

04-04-2003, 05:10 PM
You can find inexpensive dust masks at local hardware stores. They should help somewhat. But, they aren't totally sealed.

3M makes a variety of masks that you can change the filters for various types of environmental factors. For pastels, one of the fine particulate filters would probably work best. They are reasonably comfortable to wear once you get the straps adjusted. And they cover the entire nose and mouth so they are better than simple masks.

3Mô Elastomeric Facepiece Respirators, Filters & Cartridges (http://products3.3m.com/catalog/us/en001/safety/occ_health_safety/node_GSTJY48Z1Kbe/root_GST1T4S9TCgv/vroot_5SDD44F7DZge/gvel_4PV4LH4X9Kgl/theme_us_ohes_3_0/command_AbcPageHandler/output_html)

04-04-2003, 06:09 PM
I think I'll try one of those masks, and hopefully that will work, but if not I'll give oil pastels a try!

04-04-2003, 06:42 PM
Hi Julius,

I understand your suffering, I've had to leave the soft pastels alone for a while because of breathing problems, but I don't intend to give up on them, just be careful instead... I love them too much... I've been using oil pastels now for a while and they are quite challenging :D. But I'm rising to the challenge albeit slowly.

You might like to consider pastel pencils, as they don't produce the dust like the very soft pastels and are easier to control.

A few things to consider to cut down on the dust...lay in your background with either a watercolour wash or when you apply the pastel, wet a paintbrush and brush the pastel into the paper as a wash using alcohol or water, this certainly helps when painting large areas. Also of course a fine paintbrush wetted and dipped on the pastel will help with those fine details.
As to a mask, I've tried wearing one, but find them so hot and uncomfortable, another thing you could do is as the summer advances take your work outdoors into the garden, then the dust won't affect you so much, when working indoors, try working near an open window, and tap the dust off your work outside.


04-04-2003, 10:54 PM
I forgot to use my dust mask last evening and I'm still wheezing. I've been trying oil pastels and enjoying them more and more.
As Mo says, pastel pencils aren't as dusty, and Nupastels are less dusty than the really soft ones. But a mask is a good idea.

04-05-2003, 02:40 AM
why compromise your health? If the masks aren't good enough, then practice with the oil pastels and get good with them. You can do wonderful work with oil pastels once you get used to them. There are different types on the market, some are very creamy and sticky; others are dryer and more like wax. Try one or two sticks of each, to find out what you prefer.

The difference between pastels, and paints, is that pastels give yuo the chance to work directly with your hand on the paper, as it were, without a brush interfering. This applies to both oil, and soft pastels, so it is only a question of getting used to the differences in technique between chalk, and oil pastels. Once you have mastered the technique of oil pastels, you can achieve anything you want.


04-05-2003, 07:58 PM
I agree with Jackie. Why compromise your health. Avoidance of offending agent is the key to prevention of symptoms in most cases. Some people maybe highly sensitive to offendng agent,i.e,
pollens, that even mask is ineffective in preventing the attack.

I know an individual who is highly sensitive to latex that she would develop a severe asthmatic attack upon entering a room with a latex product in it. She had to quit her regular work.

But if you really have to , be sure to take all necessary precautions. It is a good idea to wear gloves , use inhaler before working , and maybe take an anti histamine.(this is likely to make you drowsy). If, inspite of all the precautions you still developed an attack,you really gonna have to think hard about using other medium. Remember , think of your health first. Also, consult your physician.

BTW, have you been to drawing and sketching forum? Also Colored pencil forum? I lurk there all the time and will post some of my project soon.

Take care,


04-05-2003, 08:33 PM
Julius, I have recently purchased a mask from Lee Valley Tools that is really nice as it won't steam up your glasses. It has a sort of a vent in front. I use it when working on enamels as that dust is very bad for lungs. Gerry

04-05-2003, 10:29 PM
I'd also add that the sanded papers, especially Wallis, creates less dust because the pastels grab the sanded surface better than when working on Canson or other smooth paper.

Your health is more important than a medium! Do consider other options. I gave up oils for years until I began painting with a palette knife so that I didn't have to use mediums. Traditional mediums give me migraine headaches!

Also try working outside in the open air with the breeze blowing away from you! I paint plein air with my pastels and can really tell a difference with the dust problem from working in the studio.