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Friday, March 22, 2013

Pastel Issues

No artwork to show today, just some concerns...
I have been working a lot with soft (dry) pastels in last two weeks.For a few days I have been experiencing symptoms of sore throat, coughing and a general feeling that I can't breath easily.Could it be because of my pastels? I don't have a studio and work in my living room only...is it a good idea working with soft pastels in your home? Wouldn't the fine dust particle be moving in the air all around?
I have been reading about it online and many say that pastel dust is hazardous if you breath a lot of it. Hmmm....what a shame; I was really enjoying my pastels but since my kitchen is adjacent to the place I work, I guess it is not advisable to do a lot of pastel work !At least not till I get a studio space of my own outside my home.I may still work with them,just not as much as I thought.Meanwhile, I am thinking of trying oil pastels instead ..they won't shed so much dust! Comments?

21 comments:

  1. That's one of the reasons why I stopped using pastels. I picked them up when I was pregnant with my second son, before learning that the dust could be dangerous. After my son was born, with a hearing disability which there is no way of knowing what caused that, genetics or something entirely different, I did a lot of research on art supplies and if they were dangerous. When I was pregnant with my third son I only used colored pencils because they were safer. And now that I paint in my kitchen pretty much all the time I only use pigments that are safe, in any medium that I use. So I don't ever use real cadmium paints, only the 'hue' ones. Maybe you could look into colored pencils? Not quite the same, but close perhaps. Good luck Arti, your pastel work is SO beautiful I hope you can work around this. I'm not an expert on the health concerns of pastels, just a paranoid woman who always asks myself if maybe using pastels while pregnant was what caused my son's hearing loss.

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    1. Thanks for the reply, Crystal, I really appreciate it.I love your color pencil work, never tried it myself ,though.What would be a good paper for this kind of work? I really loved the 'fast and furious' pace of pastels.I don't know if pencils would feel the same- but I might give them a try...It seems that watercolor is the least troublesome medium at the moment,no dust, no fumes, no mess- don't you think?!

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    2. Yes I agree about watercolors! Colored pencil is not quite the same as pastel, but I think they can be similar if you work on a sanded surface. That way you can still make pencil marks like you would with pastels, but there's no blending with your finger unfortunately.

      I use Ampersand pastelbord, but anything that has a sanded surface that's made for pastels would work the same I think.

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  2. I had the same problem with pastels... Dust causes me a sore troat.
    Giada

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  3. Do you wear a mask when you work in pastel? Does the room have a window. I heard years ago that the dust from the pastels are insidious, and a health risk. Be careful, Arti.

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    1. I have not been wearing a mask so far,true.But my concern here is more about the rest of the household.I could wear a mask while painting but what happens to all that dust that will still be floating around?will my family be inhaling it too? Its so cold out here that I can't open the windows of my flat much of the time....Exhaust fan? Its my living room! Arrgh...I will have to do some more research.

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  4. I never have a problem Arti, since I work with gloves and I use a mask when I work. If I take if off and don't use anything, I do cough sometimes!! When I work, I never blow the pastels off the paper...I tap on the paper and the pastel falls downward... Basically, we have to be careful with any medium we use. Your pastel work is too beautiful for you to stop..so I'll keep looking for solutions you can take to prevent problems!! Thank goodness you're good with oils and watercolors...I would have to stop painting..LOL Stay away from them for awhile and use something else if you feel uncomfortable.

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    1. well,it might be have nothing to do with pastel dust at all, could be flu- I am prone to throat infections.But still it gave me a scare ..I will try using a mask.Will a normal disposable one will do, or do I need a specific dust mask?I just hope that my husband who is blissfully unaware of all this; will not ban my working in the house when he sees me wearing a mask.Do you work at home,Hilda?
      I tried not to blow at the painting but at times as I saw some specks of black settling on my whites( especially at the finishing stage)I am guilty of blowing them off ...will try to refrain from it in future!
      So I guess I will have to be careful.I like Pastels so much and would hate to stop!Just taking a short break to get back to normal.

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    2. I use disposable masks when I'm home...When my Dad passed away, I took over his room..not a very big room but its the perfect art room where I can work and I don't have to clean up when I stop to cook.
      Pastels is messy but its not anything to fear...just be careful...
      sometimes we have to blow the pastels...I sometimes do and quickly stand back....covering my face. However, I wear my mask most of the time... When I go to my pastel workshop, nobody wears them and everyone blows the pastels from their work... I'm the only one who wears gloves...

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    3. Trouble is that I don't have a spare room so I have to clean up every time I am through with a session ( husband is a cleanliness freak, that doesn't help,either ;))Anyways....I think I have a dust allergy, I would try using a mask.Gloves..I m not sure- may be I would wipe my hands often instead.Thank you for helping out here- I was getting freaked out after reading a few articles about the 'dangers' of pastels!

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  5. I agree with Hilda but what do I know? I'm sure there are just some common sense solutions available and I do so love your work with them. Maybe you could work by a window that is partially open with a fan to pull the dust outwards too? Just a thought.

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    1. yes Sherry we all are learning all the time!Most common solution would be wearing a mask.But as I went on reading, there were hundreds of views- some said we needed separate clothes for pastel painting, some said as we wear a mask, we are forced to inhale more deeply- so it will backfire....I will have to ask people who are working in this medium for a long time, I guess!
      I work in my living room and the table is at the far end from the window .I think I will buy an easel and put it near the door!

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  6. I also used pastels for a while Arti and although I loved them, it was the dust that made me go back to watercolour. It never caused me sore throats etc but I just didn't like the amount of dust that was in the house. I tried oil pastels once but I really couldn't get on with them. Nothing is ever straightforward is it? Good luck with whatever you decide.

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    1. I feel a strange connection with pastels- I have been painting in watercolor for about 2-3 years now; but I never felt that 'pull' with them as I felt with my first few pastels.I guess its a medium to explore further, even as it may pose a few problems...I will try using mask and see how it goes!Thanks for dropping by, John.

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  7. Interesting Arti! your work is pastels is amazing, i hope you don't stay away from them too long. i used them for years and didn't experience any discomfort. maybe you're allergic to the dust. i used to paint in our bedroom which was really silly. the good news is that you are masterful with any medium you choose.

    and thank you so very much for your kind comments on morning walk refreshed. i so appreciate them.

    your body of work is amazing, whatever the medium.

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    1. You are so right, Suzanne.It may be a dust allergy after all.I have had it before- so its not fair to blame it all on pastels!Especially as I find them so attractive.Using a mask would be a good idea.I don't want to stop painting in pastels- they are so beautiful!I have heard from people (like yourself) who have been using them for years...may be its just the dust that I have to avoid.Thank you for leaving a comment, I appreciate it.

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