How to Rescue a Pastel Painting 

Some simple suggestions for rescuing a pastel painting which has been overworked, leaving the paper surface clogged and unreceptive to any more pigment. 

Here's How: 

1.For minor mistakes or corrections, pigment can be removed as you work with a kneaded eraser or paper blender (paper stump made of tightly spiral-wound paper).

2.For larger problem areas or more serious mistakes, use a stiff hog's hair brush to briskly rub the color. This will lift most of the pastel so that the area can be reworked – but it will leave a
background color

3.For a severely overworked painting: Soak a sheet of watercolor paper, slightly larger than your pastel painting, for 5 minutes in warm water.

4.Remove watercolor paper from water. Drain excess water from sheet and sponge until the paper’s surface is damp dry.

5.Place your pastel painting on a clean, flat work space.

6.Place the damp sheet of watercolor paper directly over your pastel painting, taking care not to drag or move it across the painting’s surface

7.Press the watercolor paper firmly but carefully over the entire surface of your pastel painting. 

8.Lift watercolor paper off of your pastel painting, again taking care not to drag the sheet across the painting.

9.The watercolor sheet will have picked up a considerable amount of pastel from your painting. As a matter of fact, the transferred image you now have on the watercolor sheet can probably be used as the basis for another painting.

10.Let your original pastel painting dry thoroughly before painting. This process will have removed enough pigment to create a surface that is again receptive to pastels.


1.Remove excess dust regularly from your painting as you work with a soft brush to ensure that only the pigment you want is on your painting ground.

2.Paint with pastels as if they were watercolors. Start by defining your highlights and build layers of color, from light to dark, as if you were layering watercolor washes to help prevent an overworked look.