View Full Version : Matching Pastels with Paper

05-24-2012, 11:57 PM

Would love to hear about other artists experiences on how certain papers lend themselves to specific types of pastels (i.e., what papers work best with pastel pencils, what papers/pastels blend best together, papers that are best for detail, or even papers better for animal paintings or landscapes, etc.). Why do we favor the papers that we do?

I tend to use the same paper (Clairfontaine Pastelmat) over and over but sometimes when I change papers notice certain pastels work better with different papers. Problem is....I never remember what worked best when:confused:

What works paper/pastel combination works for you??

Thanks for your input!:o


05-25-2012, 08:53 AM
Hi dedrian, I have just about every paper going except for fisher. I do not have a wide range of pastels only pitt pencils which I hardly ever use anymore and my softies are great americans mid range are mungyos and harder ones are polychromos. I really only stared about a year ago in pastels so I really have not noticed any difference how my pastels act on the various papers other than the fact that courser papers ie: uart 400 will eat up more pastel. The only thing i can offer is the coarser paper I will always do my first layers with the poly chromos. then the mid range and the the softies.

05-25-2012, 10:15 AM
Like David I don't have experience with a wide range of materials. I have used Rembrandts and Mount Visions on Canson mi tientes, Sennelier LaCarte, Colorfix, Wallis and Uart 400. I like the Rembrandts on Canson, anything softer fills the tooth too easily so if I work on Canson I save the Mount Visions until the end. Other than that issue I have had good experience on all the surfaces mentioned. I usually try to do the initial work with the Rembrandts gradually working in the Mount Visions as I get further along into the painting. I use Uart 400 more than another paper, probably because I have a whole roll of it. :D and I like to do a wet underpainting.


05-25-2012, 11:38 AM
PastelMat, PastelMat, PastelMat... oh I can understand why you use PastelMat over and over because it's so versatile. It doesn't reject any of my pastels. It doesn't matter what I grab, it will perform. But what I like best on PastelMat are pastel pencils, hard pastels and Pan Pastels.

Art Spectrum Colourfix and other sanded papers like the medium and softer pastels. I don't usually finish something with hard pastels on sanded paper. Canson Mi-Tientes Touch is like a slightly gentler Colourfix. It favors hand-rolled and medium pastels.

Wallis loves Senneliers but it loves them so much that it eats them like candy. Wallis even more than the other sanded papers I have will let me do the whole layering thing from hard > medium > super-soft or hand-rolled.

But I do that on Colourfix too.

On unsanded paper, especially Canson Mi-tientes I'm more likely to use medium-soft pastels out of habit, that's the combination I lived on for several years in New Orleans. Or use various hard pastels because they're handy. I've been mostly using Girault on unsanded paper or PastelMat.

Henri Roche' pastels, the most expensive ones in existence, really love unsanded paper and layering with fixative. They're bright and searing, they have some striking effects and I love how they work on the unsanded papers. Their specialty effect is something I'd only use as finishing touches on other papers but I may try them on PastelMat since I can get many of my unsanded paper effects on it - except finger blending light layers.

Colourfix SuperTooth - is somewhere between Colourfix and Wallis, more like Wallis but not quite as extreme in fingerprint removal if I happen to finger blend. Wallis is the paper of becoming identifiable only by DNA.

I liked the surface of Sennelier La Carte but was afraid to use it because if I sneezed the whole painting would die.

05-25-2012, 11:52 AM
It doesn't matter what I grab, it will perform.

That's nicely said!

05-25-2012, 12:31 PM
That's nicely said!
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

05-25-2012, 03:10 PM
It doesn't matter what I grab, it will perform.

Robert, I think you just came up with the perfect slogan for Viagra. :lol:

Seriously though, I find that Canson paper works best with pastels that have a semi-soft mid range hardness, like the Blick or Rembrandt and even up to Mount Vision and Unison. Super softies like Schmincke and Great American, just don't do as well on Canson Mi-Teintes, but it can take a few strokes of those if they are all that will go on at the end.

PastelMat is awesome! I would use it all the time if it wasn't so pricey. The ArtSpectrum Suede runs a close second.

Jason :)

05-25-2012, 04:03 PM
Robert, bless your heart. You are such a fountain of knowledge and take so much time to answer people's questions. I wish I could be more like that. I am such a bottom line person, I tend to scrimp on words. Thanks for being you.

05-25-2012, 04:53 PM
Robert, bless your heart. You are such a fountain of knowledge and take so much time to answer people's questions. I wish I could be more like that. I am such a bottom line person, I tend to scrimp on words. Thanks for being you.

I second that!! :clap:

Jason :)

05-25-2012, 06:05 PM
Wallis: Love it. | Colourfix: Hate it.

I've used both -- today -- with both hard and soft pastels.

Wallis feels like painting in oil. Yeah, it eats some pastel. But, if you're not on a budget, and want to lay some color on the canvas, it works. You'll feel like you are laying liquid instead of chalk.

Colorfix leaves gaping holes in the paper--caverns--that, if you're going for a swiss-cheese look, it's wonderful. If you want any other look; it's not an option.

If you can get Wallis (often sold out), it's worth the cost, IMO.


Deborah Secor
05-25-2012, 06:11 PM
And I "third" that, too! :D

Here's a thread from a while back with some neat experiments. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=554113)

(I also suggest that you use the Google Advanced Search (http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en) feature. I love it! You can plug in the parameters and choose to search only WetCanvas. :thumbsup: )

what papers work best with pastel pencils= I find harder paper works best with the pencils. I'd use Canson Mi Tientes, Fabriano Tiziano, or any of the drawing papers, along with some fixative.
papers that are best for detail= I was able to achieve more detail on fine sandpaper like Wallis or UART, and used almost exclusively soft, soft soft pastels like Schmincke, Ludwig and Great Americans.
papers better for animal paintings= I'd use the "furry" papers, like La Carte, PastelMat, and maybe even suede matboard, with any kinds of pastels. I like soft pastels on furry paper, with a colour shaper to add wispy hairs.
landscapes= For me, Wallis and PastelMat, with my selection of soft-soft-soft pastels! P-mat and PanPastels are great, too.

05-25-2012, 06:31 PM
Interesting question, interesting responses. I think it really comes down to what effect you are looking for, and your style of painting. I've done complete paintings on Canson using Sennelier with no problem. I think it has to do with my very light touch. It's also important to select the correct color paper for the subject, so the paper works for you and you don't fight it. You're less apt to overwork the painting and fill up the tooth. My last seascape was done using strictly Senneliers with a touch of Ludwig for the rocks. Both are very soft pastels, and they worked just fine. I have to say though, that Canson MT works especially well with Rembrandts, Art Spectrum, and Girault, they seem to have the perfect hard/soft feel to them, and they don't fill up the tooth as quickly as the Sennelier and Ludwigs do. But, using the softies exclusively can be done on Canson MT.

My two favorite surfaces are Wallis and Uart. I really love Uart 400 for its ability to take wet washes with no buckle. Wallis tends to buckle when wet (I have Wallis Pro, which isn't quite the same as Museum grade. Pro buckles, Museum isn't supposed to, though I haven't tried it). I love both these sanded surfaces, I just use the Uart when I want to do a wet underpainting. I'm doing a portrait right now on Wallis, and there will be no wet underpainting so I'm not worried about it buckling. It works very well under those circumstances. I'm using pastel pencils for this painting, as well as some softies for the background (not sure which brands, I'm not there yet).

What type of pastel I use on either paper matters not, each one takes any of the brands I have very well. I have about 11 brands, Ludwig, Sennelier, Girault, Unison, Mount Vision, Nupastel, Great American, Art Spectrum, Rowney, Rembrandt, and Schmincke. I also use pastel pencils for portrait commissions. I paint those on Wallis and the brands I have and like are Derwent, Conte, Carb Othello, and Gioconda. Each pencil brands works like a charm on the Wallis Pro. I haven't tried them on Uart, but I'm sure they would be fine also.

For me, the surface choice seems to have nothing to do with the pastel brand, I choose it because I like the "feel of it", and the all around performance. Each pastel will perform differently on any given surface. I don't always worry about the brand of pastel, usually I worry more about finding the right value, then color, so I just pick through whatever brands I have looking for that correct value. If I need the pastel to perform in a specific way, then I go straight to that brand and look for the value. For example, the softies go on easily and leave marks like lines by just pressing lightly. If that's what I'm after, then I look for the specific softie that I know will do the job.

I've tried Colourfix and it's not a favorite, though I do have a bunch of it that I'll use up on some landscapes or something. I've never tried Pastelmat, though I think I might in the near future. I've tried Ampersand pastelboard and I'm on the fence about it, not really sure if I like it (though I think it's probably nice for plein air work, very convenient). I like Sennelier LaCarte, but the sneeze factor scares me (I have a sheet of it that I'm planning on doing a sunset on, but I may wear a mask while I paint :lol: ). I've also made my own surfaces using Colourfix primer on Arches hot press watercolor paper. That worked pretty well, it's a nice way to use up my watercolor paper and experiment. All my pastel brands worked well on it.

I find it so very interesting and neat to hear everybody's responses, and how different we all are. What fun!

05-26-2012, 12:24 AM
Fascinating responses....thank you all:grouphug:

Robert - I have to second Sherry - you're always so willing to share your expertise - much appreciated:) You make me want to try Roche pastels - I shall start a Roche fund!

David and David: Thank you - & yeah, hard to watch your pastels dissolve into Wallis - but who cares when you're having fun!:evil: I tried Canson when first starting out but being so inexperienced, used up the tooth quickly. Time to try again using the "smooth" side or the newer sanded paper!

Deborah: Always such a great resource! I have yet to try UART - I hear so much about it - time to break out of my routine!

Allydoodle: I am very inspired by you and fellow Wetcanvasers that seem to instinctively know what pastel to reach for whatever paper you are using. Thank you for so graciously sharing your knowledge.

Thank you all again for sharing your knowledge!!