View Full Version : Found great surface for pastels

07-02-2013, 11:06 AM
Quite by accident, actually! I have a pad of Canson's Canva-Paper and some watercolor paper and this weekend I rolled on a couple of coats of liquitex cler gesso just to see what kind of surface I got. I tried Wallis paper and find I really don't care for it. I was looking for something that would not warp or buckle when I used liquids such as watercolor for underpainting.

I found that the Canson Canva-paper with the clear gesso was wonderful! It does have some texture to it, but with the clear gesso, the texture is softened a bit and the pastel adheres beautifully. Also, the watercolor glides on and the paper does not buckle or warp. I am so excited, as I just tried the paper this morning as I was hurrying out the door to work. I had the paper on my breakfast table and could not leave until I tried just a bit. The watercolor paper coated with the gesso still buckled a bit, even though I stretched it before coating it. What I also like about the Canva-paper is that it is somewhat sturdy and I think it might be a bit easier to mount.

Along with the watercolor, I made some marks and did some blending with a few Rembrandts, Nupastels, senneliers, Mount vision and Terry Ludwigs. The pastel blended nicely, the marks I made with the softer sticks showed up nicely on the blended backgrounds, and of course worked great over the watercolor.

I will have to run out to the Hobby Lobby at lunch today to see if they have any more pad sizes available, as I only have a 9 x 12 size right now. I will prepare several more sheets of this tonight, as I have a lovely four day weekend coming up!


07-02-2013, 12:01 PM
Deb, thanks, that's interesting! Was it gesso with grit, our without?

I've tried those papers for Acrylic painting, which are really thick. They take well to a pastel primer, without buckling.

07-02-2013, 12:14 PM
Charlie, it was just Liquitex clear gesso, no grit. It leaves the paper with some tooth, and smooths out the canvas texture a bit. I have some colorfix primer for pastel too, so maybe I'll try that as well. I was just so happy that it did not buckle with the watercolor washes...I know a lot of pastelists love the Wallis paper, but I found it too gritty for me. I could not leave a decent mark on it, but since I am such a novice, it might just be my technique!

07-02-2013, 01:07 PM
I have been making my own ground for several years, and I use the Liquitex clear gesso. I use a brush to get more texture, and if you want smooth you can use a roller, but I like the brush strokes that show up. It DOES indeed have "grit" however, although it is a finely ground pumice and this is what gives the pastel a grip. I get mat board from a framer friend and as these are pre cut to size (think middle piece of a cut mat for framing) I have an archival surface to lay the gesso and these are great for plein air since they are sturdy enough to stand on an easel without a mounting board if you like. I have found if you coat the back side with plain gesso, then use the Liquitex on the painting side, there is no buckle at all, even with wetting for underpainting. I have also used it on watercolor paper and I have two huge pads of Brenda Mattson pastel paper that I have coated also as it does not have enough "tooth" for me.
I just introduced a friend to this whilst I was in Ireland, as she was able to order from England, and she loved it also.
Enjoy! It is a lot of fun to experiment with textures and as I am the opposite of you and like a LOT of tooth (Even the Wallis is not enough for me lol) it works for both preferences. You can even sand it with a sanding block if you want a little more smoothness.

07-02-2013, 01:12 PM
You can buy your own gatorboard and coat also, no buckling at all, but a little more expensive, yet not as expensive as say, Richeson premium gatorboard pastel surface(one of my absolute favorites).

07-02-2013, 03:40 PM
Tressa, thank you so much. I tried the ground on mat board, and also tried the clear gesso on mat board, but I live in a very hot, humid climate and no matter what I did, or how many coats I put on both sides, the mat just curled. I am hoping that the canvas paper is sturdy enough to just do a tape hinge on a mat for framing. I assume I will just tape or clip it to a wooden board that I use if I wanted to go plein air.

07-02-2013, 07:27 PM
Debbie, lol..I hear you on hot and humid. I live in the Mid Atlantic and we are very humid, sometimes I feel like I'm breathing liquid...You are correct that the weather has an effect on buckling. I have had it curl on me in humid weather, so I try to keep a bunch made up in winter, but, if I do have any curling of the mat board, I simply stack some of my heavy art books on top for a day or so and they flatten back out.

07-06-2013, 05:19 PM
Interesting about the canva-paper. I haven't tried that with pastels because I didn't get good results with canvas boards - the regular gesso was too slick to hold pastel marks when I did them. Might be a different hand or pressure involved too since it works for you.

Wallis is the extreme of sanded pastel surfaces, the grit is coarse and deep and holds the most layering. I find it a bit much most times. I prefer Art Spectrum Colourfix, which has just-right grit for me, and is available in 20 colors in primer form to put on any surface that won't warp.

Another surface you might try is Ampersand Pastelbord, which has a very fine-tooth grit surface. Not like the heavy sandpaper but gritty enough to hold many layers.

Clairefontaine PastelMat and Colourfix Suede are both coated papers or boards, they hold a lot but are quite smooth to the touch and allow fine detail. I like them best with Pan Pastels and pastel pencils, they allow me to get as intricate with the pastel pencils as I want to and let me do some layering with them. Especially with the Pan Pastels they layer well and I can erase to lift marks and change an area.

I sympathize about mat board buckling in a humid climate. I used to live in New Orleans. One trick is to leave a good wide border between the painting area and the edge of the mat board. I used to use mat scrap as a pastel surface in itself, partly because I had an unending supply of mat scrap from the assorted French Quarter frame shops. They'd put out boxes of it every now and then to be carried off by various artists. I had tons of it, most of it museum boards, to experiment with.

Different brands use different types of gesso too. I might have to try the canva-paper since it worked for you. I've used it for painting in the past and liked it, it's good and stiff and doesn't get soggy with wet mediums on it. Glad to know watercolor washes work on it too.

07-06-2013, 08:44 PM
Speaking of humidity etc... Last week we had 3 days workshop with Bill Creevy and he introduced us to something I personally didn't try before (I don't think many others did either). It is called "multimedia artboard pastel". It is interesting new support, super ultra-light weight, has silk-screened pastel ground coating what works well for pastels. We tested that stuff just about with everything. Water, alcohol, alkyd. Works great will all, no problems. Totally no warping. NONE! This is composite board of paper fiber and resin, very durable. I believe there is an article about it in new issue of Pastel Journal.
For those who like to use own primers there are even better news - standard multimedia artboard panels do not come coated and much cheaper... You can apply any ground You want on it.Check it out, it is pretty nice stuff. The ONLY downside of it - You can brake it, if You try. But it will apply more-less to any support. It totally doesn't need to be mounted to anything to be ready for wet applications.

07-06-2013, 08:55 PM
Tatiana, is this the stuff you are talking about? I remembered that this month's sale at Dakota included a support with "Multimedia" in the name. Here is the link to the sale page (http://www.dakotapastels.com/pages/paper-multimedia.aspx).

07-06-2013, 09:05 PM
Tatiana, that sounds cool I love anything that Bill comes up with in his idea catalog! lol
Funny Robert, I find Wallis to be the less desirable of the sanded papers/supports. It has nothing in tooth to the Richeson premium boards, and after using these, as well as my own supports, I was very frustrated with the mounted Wallis I ordered. Not that there was anything wrong with them per se, it just did not do for my style and comfort of painting tooth...I really think that this is a thing one must explore and find on their own as there is "technically" nothing wrong with any of the commercial supports, it is just a matter of finding the one that fits "your" painting mechanism and technique...

07-06-2013, 10:09 PM
Grinner, yes, this is the stuff... only few places have it now. But original artboard not primed for pastels (what is good alternative for own primers) are sold at many online retailers. Here is company web site to read about product. www.multimediaartboard.com
Tressa, You are right - if Bill tried it and liked, it worth trying.

Maggy B
07-12-2013, 09:51 PM
Has anyone tried the Fisher400 paper? I tried it recently for the first time and really liked the texture. I also use Pastelbord but found Wallis to be a little too coarse of a grit for me.

07-13-2013, 04:26 PM
I tried it because Colorix sent me some a couple of years ago. I love it, but it's hard to find here in the USA. Great paper!

Maggy B
07-14-2013, 05:25 PM

They have Fisher 400 at Proartpanels.com. Also, I wondered if you were the "Robert" taking notes of Johannes Vloothuis's online classes a while back.

Maggy B