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Monday, March 09, 2015

Why We all Need a Gutter

'Silver Ribbons'           12x18              pastel            ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting here $165
 I can't paint without my gutter. I may have a great new vacuum cleaner but my gutter saves my floor and my pastels. Gutters come in all shapes and materials. Pastel artists get creative with their gutters! If you use pastels than you probably have your own version of  dust collector. (the thing we put under our painting board to collect falling dust) I had an artist friend call them gutters and that word has stuck.

Yes pastels do create some dust.  I have never used a vacuum system or air purifier but I do vacuum and dust at least weekly. Frankly I get more dust upstairs where I don't paint than in my studio where I paint every day!  Dust isn't really a big issue. Sanded papers grab pastel so well that there is very little flying dust. Here is what I do to control the bit of dust that is produced:

My pastel gutter is coated foamcore board

  • I prefer to paint with my board/paper on an easel that is not tilted back or forward. This allows the dust to fall straight down. It is collected in the gutter.
  • Occasionally I will tap the top of the board to dislodge any loose dust.
  • I NEVER EVER blow on a painting to dislodge dust. This only puts the dust in the air where we might breathe it in....or where it will settle on the floor or furniture.
  • I put a dust collector (gutter) under my painting board.
  • My favorite gutter is made of a piece of coated foamcore board from an old advertising sign. I cut it into 4 x 24 or 36 inch strips. I score it lengthwise on the back which forms a nice dust collector. The coated surface makes it easy to wipe clean.
In the past I have used tinfoil, paper towels and  butcher paper but my foam core gutters have been the most durable. I wouldn't be able to paint without them!  

It's your turn!  I know you have great ideas for gutters. What do you use to collect your pastel dust? Share in the comment section or feel free to email me your ideas and photos. I will compile them into another post so we can share the great ideas I know you have! kemstudios@yahoo.com

Today's painting: 12x18 on uart 500 with a dry wash underpainting in cool colors.


Jo Castillo said...

Beautiful painting. I'll send you a photo tomorrow.

Susan Williamson said...

I use a plastic box made for wetting wallpaper. It is the perfect size!

Sandi G said...

"Silver Ribbons" is a beautiful painting! Wow!
Robert Carsten has a nice idea for collecting dust when at
Workshops. First, he uses a big pad of newsprint paper to
place some finished work in and that fits nicely in a portfolio bag then he fashions a troth out of a page of newsprint paper ant tape. At the end of the day we just toss the paper. I also position my easel strait up not slanted. Thanks for all of your great ideas and art instruction. I and many of my pastel friends look forward to your blog every day.

Hope Thompson said...

I can not hold my arm out straight for very long due to left over issues from breast cancer surgery, so I can't paint on an easel. I have to have my paper on a flat surface. So, throughout the painting process, I take it outside, hold it upside down and tap it gently to release the dust. It seems to work for me. Fortunately, I am very close to the outside door!

Francesca Droll said...

Great idea and I may try it out. I also like the wallpaper plastic box idea. I use a piece of masking tape along the bottom edge of my board or foamcore that my paper is taped to. The 3/4" tape is sticky side up and positioned so that it catches the pastel powder as it falls. I also position my board straight up.

Marti W said...

I use roof flashing. It's already designed in with a 90degree angle. I have long piece for studio work and a short one (length of my Sienna plein air easel) for Plein air work. Lightweight, it stores around the edge of the easel in my backpack. Keeps the pastels clean and easy to tip it and swish with a paper towel when done. Lasts forever!

Catherine Selinger said...

Your silver ribbons painting is gorgeous! Thanks for your excellent gutter tips Karen. Since you asked, here are a couple of other things I've learned along the 'dark, dusty highway...'

One, whatever kind of gutter you use, it may be useful to consider one (like Karen's idea) that is light enough and forms a trough (or a V shape) so that excess dust can be easily poured into a little container for collection and then later rolled into a grey pastel when you've collected enough. (I've not made one yet but I have enough dust that's for sure.) I use the flat plastic empty Pan Pastel containers as they have a wide opening which also helps collection. I use two of them stacked together with one lid. Maybe it's a waste of time but I am trying to separate the dust into warm vs. cool colours so that I might be able to make two different temperature greys someday! :)

Secondly, make sure to cover your tea or coffee cup with something while painting. Not only will your drink stay warmer longer but also obviously a lid will protect from drinking excess pastel that settles after floating in the air for awhile. A good thing! When I forget to do this, after a while I can actually see the tiny bits of pastel floating on top of my tea! That CAN'T be good! :)

Bonnie Morgan Hyde said...

I use corrugated board covered in packing tape held at 45 degree angle

robertsloan2art said...

Gorgeous painting. You're at your best with the marsh scenes and the Iceland scenes. This is beautiful.

Cool gutter. Great idea cutting up the old sign with its cleanable surface.

I don't usually use an easel because with my disabilities I have trouble sitting up without leaning and holding my arms out unsupported. So I use a clipboard in my lap for small art under 8" x 10" and a 16" square drawing board with a clip if it's any larger. I have a giant drawing board if I ever have a day I'm up to working huge again but don't use it often.

I deal with dust by holding the clip board over the trash can and tapping it, knocks the dust right into the bin.