Where is the best place to draw with pastels?

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When you're ready to start drawing with your pastels, you need a designated space where you can spread out your supplies and start sketching. Having a room devoted to your art making is ideal, but don't let not having a dedicated studio space stand in your way. Working with pastels doesn't require a lot of space — all you need is a work surface for the drawing, a place to lay out your pastels, and a table and light for your setup.

If you don't have a dedicated studio space, you can create a work surface in a shared space, such as an office or kitchen. Pastels are very portable, and the equipment is easy to stow away when you aren't working with it. Plus, cleanup is a snap. A table or desk works fine for a temporary space to work.

Working in shared spaces with pastel presents few problems. Pastel is a dry medium, and pastels have no smell. They may attract small hands if you have children, so find a secure place to store your work and materials if you're working in an area with curious young fans.

Pastels work very well on the road as well. Your supplies and equipment are portable and you can take your equipment where you want to work. Plein air work — making art out in the open air — requires a bit of planning, much like camping. You need to be able to work comfortably and to see your subject clearly.

Although pastels are safe materials to use and don't require any volatile chemicals for cleanup (unless you consider soap and water volatile), you still need to consider two safety issues when setting up your workspace:

  1. Pastel dust: Pastels create a lot of dust, and breathing in the dust and pigments isn't healthy for anyone. For those with breathing problems, allergies, or asthma, the dust can be irritating. Resisting the temptation to shake or blow on the drawing to remove excess pastel is the best way to avoid getting dust in the air.
  2. Ventilation for using spray fixative: Spray fixative is a sealer that allows you to add more tooth to layers of pastels for continued work or to apply a final finish spray to fix the pastel artwork and make it less prone to smudging. Using fixative is an optional step, but be sure to use it with proper ventilation. Spraying fixative in an open garage or porch or outside in decent weather works fine.
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This article was published on 2010/10/27