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Old 09-27-2017, 08:29 PM
kristinmarley kristinmarley is offline
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Pastel dust ruining my paintings

Hello, I'm relatively new to pastels, and am running into issues with pastel dust. When I start at the top, the dust drips down and sticks to the rest of the paper, finally landing on the easel, but with a trail of dust all the way down. When I'm done, there is so much dust on the paper all over the place it looks 'dirty'. I'm using Colorfix paper, and combination of soft and hard pastels. Looking for advice on how to deal with the dust.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:45 PM
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rugman rugman is offline
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Re: Pastel dust ruining my paintings

I consider myself a fairly "heavy handed" pastel painter. Meaning I push hard often as I apply pastel. I also use soft touch as well. Anyway, I do make fair amount of dust. But I dont have problem with dust contaminating painting to the point of making mud or dirty look. So..

Try and paint with the painting completely vertical. Some people even have painting surface tilted forward slightly so dust falls and doesnt touch painting surface.

Try and use a softer touch....and not over apply pastel over and over again in same area

If your painting starting at the top, you can use a brush or kneaded eraser to clean dust off paper before moving lower (I paint all areas of the painting at the same time). You can gently tap on painting to help some of the access dust to fall off. Do not blow on painting, however, as you dont want all the dust floating around in the air breathing it.

Use artist quality pastels. Inexpensive, student grade pastels will make more dust by not adhering to paper as well

Not sure what else to recommend. Hopefully this helps you. Maybe someone else has more ideas.
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Old 09-27-2017, 11:20 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Pastel dust ruining my paintings

I didn't really enjoy working with pastels until I did the following:
  • I Switched to sanded papers like UArt or Pastel Premier. I like the 320 and 400 grits. Get a sample pack and try them to see which grit you like the best. They hold the pastels significantly better than what you are now using and allow more layers to be applied.
  • I Tilt the board slightly forward on the easel so that any pastel dust falling will not fall onto the board but rather in the tray on the easel. I make a dust catcher out of heavy duty aluminum foil. If your easel won't tilt forward you can make a simple adapter out of wood that will push the top of your panel forward.
  • For underpainting I used pastels that were then brushed in with alcohol or OMS to get solid coverage of the large areas without filling the tooth of the paper. I found this worked better than watercolors or other materials, keeping the tooth as open as possible yet giving excellent coverage, particularly with the darks. UArt can handle water, alcohol or OMS for your underpainting. Pastel Premier only OMS without dissolving the glue.
  • I take the board and turn it over every now and then giving it a hard tap on the back outside, to get any loose dust to fall off the surface.
  • Start with hard pastels and work thinly, then moving to softer and thicker applications near the end.
My methods might not work for you, but you may want to try them to see for yourself.
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Old 09-29-2017, 12:44 AM
kristinmarley kristinmarley is offline
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Re: Pastel dust ruining my paintings

Thanks for the advice! Tilted easel forward and what a difference!
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Old 10-02-2017, 08:25 AM
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*Deirdre* *Deirdre* is offline
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Re: Pastel dust ruining my paintings

great advice from everyone...just one to add, don't blow the dust off your painting or anywhere it drops...instead - take the painting to the bin and tap it on the back so the dust falls into the bin.Hope that helps
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Old 11-15-2017, 03:24 PM
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Re: Pastel dust ruining my paintings

also, if you are seeing a lot of pastel dust drop down you might want to change your paper as I am sure you would rather not lose that much paint - instead keep it on your painting. A paper with a good tooth will hold your pastel and not let it drop. Alternatively, try not to push too hard. If you lose a lot of dust you'll go through your pastel sticks in no time!
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