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Art Supply Junkie – Tip for Using Soft Pastels

This little tip has saved me invaluable time with clean up.

Tools needed: Two sheets of newspaper Masking tape

Keeping the chalk dust from the pastel from getting into everything is always a challenge, and I hate having to face the mess of it tracking all over the studio. I like to work at an easel, particularly for larger works, so this is a way to keep the chalk dust from getting on to the floor and subsequently though out the house. It also provides great mixes of pastel for neutral washes or under paintings.

1) Take a couple of sheets of newspaper, open out flat and then fold lengthwise into about a 5″ width strip, keeping all of the paper to provide stability. Now – fold this in two, length wise, creating a trough.

2) Place the folded newspaper on to the easel tray and using masking tape, fasten the folded paper securely to the supports. Tilt the front edge up a bit before propping your drawing board on the easel.

3) Now while you are working, the pastel dust that is created while working on your painting will land (mostly) on the newspaper trough rather than all over the floor (and on everything else).

When finished, tap your drawing board gently to release any loose pastel, and remove the board from the easel. Carefully remove the tape from the support. Gently tap the newspaper trough to allow the pastel dust to settle into the fold. You’ll be amazed at the amount of pastel collected.

4) Tilt the trough and again, while tapping gently, allow the pastel dust to slide off into a lidded container where it will be ready to use for great neutral washes on another painting. These washes can be applied with a brush (with or without water), rubbed on with a cloth, sprinkled and spread with fingers, or if you’re really into this, compressed into a new stick.

If you don’t care to use the droppings, just carefully fold the paper and discard.

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