Tips for Working with Pastels

Tips for Working with Pastels

As with all fine-art-media made from pigment, it is essential to keep pastels away from food sources and out-of-reach of children and animals. Purchase only pastels conforming to U.S. Federal Safety Standards. If you have an older set of pastels, ask your art supplier about the contents. A professional will recognize harmful ingredients that you may miss.

In general, keep your work area clean. While there are differing opinions about the “cautions” of using pastels, it’s best to be on the safe side and avoid inhaling pastel dust. If you work with pastels often, use an ionizer as well as an air purifier. Units specifically designed for pastel dust are available at art supply stores. If you are asthmatic, wear a mask.

Do not “blow” on, or at, a pastel painting, work surface or surround. Take the painting outdoors and gently tap the back. Always avoid inhaling pastel dust.

Capture falling pastel particles by placing a damp towel on the easel ledge. You can increase the ledge-width by securing a wider piece of foam board wrapped with aluminum foil. Cover the foil with folded, moist paper towels – spritz with water as needed, and replace paper towels often.

Wear disposable, non-latex gloves. They keep your hands safe from possible toxins, keep your work surface cleaner and save time. You can easily clean the pigment from the gloves as you change colors – much easier then a good hand washing. Consider barrier creams if you cannot adjust to gloves.

To clean a working glove, keep moist paper towels, or wipes, in a plastic bag. ”Pin” the bag to your easel with push-pins. Reach inside, leaving the wipes in the bag, and clean your working glove.

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Handy tips for keeping the pastel work area clean and safe.