2018 Workshop Schedule. New workshops added! click here for details.
Visit my Patreon Page for more painting instruction

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

You Need This if You Use Pastels!

'Winter Tango'         8x10        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $125
It is the bane of a pastelist.....dirty fingernails. You know you are a pastelist when you have to apologize to the cashier for your dirty fingernails. "I paint. I really didn't just go dig in the dirt!"
For years I did the best I could to clean my fingernails with a nail brush. But they seemed perpetually stained. Not any more!

I discovered the MUST HAVE soap for pastel artists. Good old Lava Bar.



Lava soap has been around since the 1800s and has been the trusted soap for coal miners, oil rig workers and mechanics. If it works for them then surely it will work wonders for pastel stained fingernails! The secret is the pumice in the soap. Not only does it remove the pastel with the help of a nail brush it leaves your hands exfoliated and soft!



To protect my hands I take a three step approach.

  • Protect my hands before painting with barrier cream like Art Guard or Gloves in a Bottle. (or gloves)
  • Keep hands clean while painting with baby wipes.
  • Wash hands after painting with Lava soap and a nail brush.
  • Moisturize hands with a good cream. I like Weleda Skin Food.

3 comments:

MaryB said...

Wow! I remember Lava ads on (tiny) TV screens in the 50s. Next, you'll tell me to brush with Ipana...But seriously, I appreciate this tip, Karen. Between pastels & playing ball with my 2 Rotts, my nails are ALWAYS dirty. I'll buy some today. Thanks so much for your blog & your Patreon acct. Both are great. You really do a lot in a day. L&K, MaryB

robertsloan2art said...

I love Lava. It's really good soap. Pigments stain and the pumice does a great job of taking it right out. Nothing like quinacridone fingernails and pthalo fingerprints to really creep out people. Lava is also good for living on a farm. Cats are very clean animals. The same cannot be said for happy border collie, the assorted goats, the hen who thinks she's a cat with feathers, the many goats, the one sheep that thinks he's a goat (orphan lamb raised with them) or the duck Murgatroyd.

Come to think of it, the outdoor cats roll in the dust and I wind up having to wash my hands as soon as I come in. They're black from outdoor lap lumps immediately snuggling. The gray water looks totally gray. It's only the indoor cats that are that clean!

The other product I bought and use is a bit more expensive and not really relevant unless you like it for its other qualities. I use The Master's Artist Hand Soap, which does as good a job for getting pigments out of skin and nails and hair. Yes. As my beard gets longer, occasionally it gets into things and bits of paint or pastel need to be taken out of it without staining, or I'll look like some odd Rainbow Beard guy.

I got it in an Artist Survival Kit and it worked great for getting out stains. It also included Kiss Off for getting pigment out of clothes and The Masters Brush Cleaner which revived uncounted watercolor and oils brushes that got gunked up with various acrylics or inks or whatever. It even got stains out of those, which delighted me. You do underpaintings so you might like that brush cleaner even if as you pointed out Lava does well enough on hands!

I keep forgetting that normal people aren't used to seeing colorful stains on people's hands and hair and clothes. I guess if you're using dark colors it looks like you were fixing motorcycles, but when it's bright turquoise? No need to be embarrassed though. Either tell them you're an artist or a mad scientist.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen, Thanks for the Lava soap suggestion! If you are like me and find yourself multi tasking , I like to keep a wet soapy sponge in an aluminum tray (or any water proof flat tray)& a dry towel next to my painting to clean my fingers if I'm using my computer an/cellphone and painting . It works really well .

Janet