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Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Can I Do With Leftover Pastel Dust?

'Aspen Joy'      5x7        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
Ask and you shall receive!  I asked for your pastel questions and I am thrilled that you are sending them in. Keep them coming!  I appreciate the questions and feedback you are sharing with me.  Today I will answer one of the questions and this Q & A will become a regular blog feature.  Here is today's question:

Since you asked :-) here's my pastel question--what's a good thing to do with all that leftover dust (besides throw it out)? I know some people make their own pastels but I haven't heard of anyone who had great results--it seems they don't stick together too well. 

Applying pastel dust with a brush and foam
Great question!  I have been keeping a large jar to put all of the pastel dust that I collect in the tray on my easel.  Last year I even had my students empty their dust into the jar.  It is half full of a very nice blueish gray dust. My intention was to make pastels with the dust but I haven't tried it yet. So I can't comment on how well that works. But I did discover another way to use the dust.

I used a paintbrush and painted with the dust! Since it was a nice neutral it made a great underpainting. I blocked in the values of my subject which was aspen trees.  It was like using powdered charcoal. I tried using a foam brush for larger areas and I used a kneaded eraser to remove pastel and draw thin branches into the pastel.

Creating new pastel dust to apply to painting
I enjoyed the process and the softness that the painted dust created but I began to feel limited by the gray color.  I know some artists save their dust by color and have jars of colored dust. I didn't do that so all I had was gray!  So I decided to make my own colored dust.  I shaved little piles of colored dust onto a piece of foam core and brushed the colored dust onto my painting.

I finished the painting by adding a few details and highlights with a pastel stick but them majority of the painting was completed with a brush and some dust!

Have you found other ways to use your leftover pastel dust?


Anonymous said...

nice loose painting. I haven't painted with dust but I do have terrific luck in making it back into a stick form. I save all my dust in a small jar and when I've gathered enough, I use either distilled water or rubbing alcohol and roll on waxed paper. let it dry til its no longer cool to the touch. its usually a grey-green color as I do many landscapes. I can add some white or black to make a "3 piece" set.

pattisjarrett said...

The aspens are so pretty!

Margretta S. Perry said...

I, also, use my pastel dust to make neutral pastels. I make sure that the dust doesn't have particles--crush whatever is chunky. Because you have lots of nice complementary colors in the pot, you get some lovely greys or browns. I have used regular tap water. There is enough binder in the dust to help make a paste. I roll the paste into a stick and let it dry. They work great and I worry less about inhaling the dust.