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jakertanner
07-26-2014, 12:32 AM
Hi,

Two part question...

Please forgive me if this has been done before...I was experimenting with the many brands of pastel papers I got samples of (didn't get to all of them), with a few main brands of pastels I have, to see what surface will suit me best.

I used 2 different blues from Nupastels along with a mid tone Rembrandt to create a small sky...blended it in really good on: Colorfix, Pastelmat, Canson Touch, and La Carte. I used the white from Richeson's handmade which is labeled grey 171...not sure if it's the whitest, and laid in some clouds to see which support would layer best and keep the white the brightest. My findings were that La Carte, had the brightest white, with Pastelmat in second, and everyone else was about the same. If I completely cover the paper (no undertone showing), does the actual tone of the paper then matter?

I did other swatch tests on those same papers, with other colors from Unison, and Richeson, as well as Mungyo handmade, and found that some colors are really splendid and smooth on the ALL of those, especially Pastelmat. I am still at a loss as to which surface is best for me...lol

The Touch paper, tends to break up a bit (shows the undertone of the paper) when laying in broad strokes, while La Carte has incredible coverage but doesn't extend the blending as much as a less gritty paper, and Pastelmat is very hard to blend, but almost fixes the pastel to the paper without fixative..weird and great and the same time.

Basically, I'd like to know, what process, and at what point or painting did you realize what surface was best for you.

Second part is easy one: What is the softest and brightest white pastel brand you've come across?

Thanks for your replies.

jackiesimmonds
07-26-2014, 04:31 AM
I began with Mi Teinte...in a way, I was lucky that there was little choice when I began. I did LOADS of paintings on that before trying out anything else. Some others I liked a lot, some I disliked. At no particular point did I have any kind of realisation that I preferred one particular surface....I just produced painting after painting on whatever I had bought! And I adjusted my technique to suit the surface. Some paintings are more successful than others, that is how it works. I liked Wallis a lot when I discovered it, and produced lots of paintings on that, preferring it to Mi Teinte. But, when I ran out of Wallis, I switched back to paper. I just like painting. The important thing is not to get too concerned about your materials, just buy the best you can afford, and work with them until you gain confidence.

Just remember that although regular pastel paper, and sanded papers, behave quite differently, you always have the option to BRUSH OFF areas which do not work, and add more layers, and you can do this with either surface.
You can blend more easily on regular paper. I always used to recommend that my students began with regular paper, learned the techniques on that because it is considerably less expensive, and gradually move onto sanded papers when they felt confident that they knew how to make their pastel sticks do what they want!

The brightest white? Any hard pastel is likely to be less bright when applied than a soft pastel. and the softest I have used is Schmincke.

I find little use for pure white unless I am painting,because the light and shade in the scene will "colour" the white to either a warm or a cool shade.
I always use a white with a hint of yellow in it for sunlight - Ochre light in the lightest tone.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Jul-2014/1805-Chefs_at_work_smaller.jpg
this pic is a good example of how white is seldom seen as just pure white. You can see how many blues I used here, but you would never think that the chefs uniforms are white with blue. You KNOW they are white all over.

And as for your question about whether the tone of the paper matters, the answer is ...it might. If it shows. If it doesn't show, it doesn't matter.
I used black for the chef image because dark paper often gives the greatest contrast if it does show thro at all. This was a piece of Black Somerset, which is a soft-surface paper with a bit of tooth, nowhere near as gripp-y as sanded paper.
You will only know what suits you when you try working a full painting on the surface you have selected.

Colorix
07-26-2014, 05:02 AM
Not all pastel sticks are opaque -- which is yet another factor to count in. Some yellows won't cover no matter how thickly applied, while other yellows (cads) cover whith one layer. But if you have the really opaque sticks, and cover the paper (with several layers), then, IMHO, the colour of the paper doesn't matter -- provided you know your values and put them down correctly initially. Dark papers "lure" you to choose darker values of the sticks, so the painting risks ending up too dark. Vice versa for white paper.

And then we have what I call "fashion" in painting. In the 1700s, the paper was completely covered. Later, when pastels came to be regarded as a drawing medium, the ideals of drawing ruled -- i.e. use the paper as one of the colours/values and leave it visible. A mid-toned paper was convenient for that kind of drawing. And of course still is, if you apply scumbled layers. The colour of the paper works to unify the painting as it peaks through the pigments.

Few pastel artists today fingerblend extensively. Most let the sticks themselves blend as they go. But if you really want to blend, then the less abrasive papers are best. But the really toothy papers allow for blending when you have several layers of pigment down.

The softest and whitest I've come across are Schmincke. They feel slightly "creamy", and even a thick gooey stroke in the middle of a highlight stays on top of many layers of pigment.

Still-trying
07-26-2014, 08:33 AM
Jake, thank you for starting this thread. There is such good information here. I hope the thread goes on and on with more contributions.

Jackie, What a wonderful painting. You are always spot on with your examples. Great teaching

Charlie, I love your posts. Always a tidbit to take away.

Blayne
07-26-2014, 09:16 AM
Echo Jay's comments--so much to learn, and Jackie and Charlie are terrific teachers. Thanks, Jake, for asking, Jackie, for the information on the tone of the paper, and Charlie for confirming that not all pastels are opaque--an issue that had contributed to some trouble spots in my paintings but which I couldn't figure out.

jakertanner
07-26-2014, 09:40 AM
Wow, thanks to all who have replied thus far. I agree with Still-Trying about both of the above posts.

Jackie, beautiful painting, I worked in a restaurant and can relate to the image. I have seen your work and watched your tutorials on Youtube, so thank you kindly for being the first to answer.

I guess knowing what is out there, and having so many choices can hinder the creative process...I know what you mean Jackie, when you say to use what I have and just paint. I am a professional audio engineer and mixer, and I often work with many artists, and I use the same method you described in my line of work as well...Going from studio to studio, I use what is available, and the music still shines through..I will apply this to my painting and see what happens. Also, I did read elsewhere, that sometimes the brightest colors are not white, which you pointed out, so I will take that into account as well.

BTW, before I received many samples of paper, I purchased on a 50% off sale, Canson Mi Teintes pads, in earth colors, and also a Canson Touch pad...so I will use those up first and practice. I enjoy working with pastel pencils, and have a few as well, so the papers will come in handy for that application.

Thanks Colorix, for suggesting Schmincke, I have been wanting to try them, but they are more expensive than most other brands at my local store...but if I can find their white, I'll pick it up.

Thanks again, and I agree, let's keep these discussions going if possible with more suggestions for paper and pastel combos.

I'd really like to know, for instance, Unison or Mungyo handmade works best with "x" paper/board, or Rembrandt works best with "x"...if that even applies, since brands are mixed anyway. However, this dilemma is what prompted me to ask the questions...I found that some pastels work better on certain surfaces, but I like using combinations of brands, which makes it difficult to settle on one type of surface.

BTW, forgot to mention, I received Ampersand boards as samples, and I'm afraid to try them just to run tests...lol Any advice or comparison to other sanded surfaces?

much appreciated,
Jake

DAK723
07-26-2014, 10:46 AM
Jake, As you are discovering, the number of possible combinations can be confusing and overwhelming! Being old :eek: I didn't have many options when I began using pastels. This definitely made things easier. Nonetheless, it may take years to decide on your favorite combos. Unfortunately, since we all work differently and apply pastels with differing techniques and amounts of pressure, what works for one person may not work the same for others.

In my opinion, the key is not to concentrate too much on the materials. Do the best with what you have on each individual painting. After the painting is done, you may need to evaluate what worked better or worse than you expected. Over time, you will eventually migrate to those materials that worked better most of the time.

Don

Still-trying
07-26-2014, 11:20 AM
Adding to the above, I believe that our style changes, our art changes as we grow. What you determine now may not apply as all in a while. I think it's all part of the fun and fascination of making art. Keep the fun in it!

Colorix
07-26-2014, 01:01 PM
Don's right, preferences change over time!

Jake, if you're in the US a Terry Ludwig white comes close to Schmincke, but is slightly more crumbly.

Unison pastels work really well with most papers. They're firm enough to not clog the toothy papers, and have enough "clingability" to stay on plain papers.

robertsloan2
07-26-2014, 02:49 PM
Jake, I can sympathize with being afraid to work on the Ampersand surface because it's too expensive for just tests. But what I did wen I first got it was get a pack of small ones and then do a landscape from a reference here in order to test it. If you've got more than one it's easier. But as Jackie mentioned, it's very easy to just brush off any pastel surface. Ampersand boards are very super sturdy. I love their gritty surface, finer grained than some sanded papers.

One thing you could do with it is a landscape that's mostly skyscape. With the land a little strip of maybe 1/8 of the whole area, vertical format, you can play with the sky doing tests of different pastels, blend them in or brush them out, stay more or less in the same color and value ranges before doing a final painting - and thus have "blue smudge under a blue sky" if it doesn't brush out completely. A swift irregular line across the bottom to make hills and streaks of fields out of would be enough - very little detail, take a look at some of Deborah Secor's skyscape paintings. Then some blobs of irregular cloud shapes, get very abstract with those, and youv'e got smooth areas between and around them to test blues, various light and shadow colors for clouds.

The cool thing is that clouds work best in mixed color neutrals. So evn playing with different colors in cloud shadow regions can be balanced and worked out by the end - and the more you work on it the richer it'll look. References with good clouds in are a good start for planning something like that.

Actually I'm describing a project I want to do, but for something for fun that's a forgiving subject!

As for pastels and their favorite surfaces, I am horrible that way. I love them all and treat each surface and its favorite pastels as "what effects do I want to get on this?" Some of them I haven't tested extensively because they fell in love with their favorite pastels and work so well it's hard to not use them. PastelMat with Pan Pastels is a pure joy. My favorite for Pans, and I've used stick accents on Pans paintings without regard to which brand of sticks, but only after I've got lots of Pans layers down. Its smoothness lends itself to detail and my second favorite pastel on it is pastel pencils or hard pastels where I can get all into pencilish detail.

I'm now exploring different levels of grits in sanded papers. I have three Uart sheets now cut into usable portions, loved and used Colourfix as my favorite sanded for a long time especially with Rembrandts/Art Spectrum and Sennelier for finishing. Started on Canson Mi Tientes and love it to this day, do not stick to the sanded or grit or coated papers. Stayed off LaCarte because a sneeze would kill it and I get sweaty hands sometimes or breathe heavily, been too nervous about that.

I haven't yet made a systematic survey of what goes with what, but some of it is my own hand too - my favorite combos may not be yours or someone else's. As I get more practice playing with combinations I find out what they do and then use it when I want that effect. Wallis is too rough for me most times, though not so bad since I stopped trying to finger blend on it and it did teach me to blend with sticks.

What I use most for just goofing around on sanded is Art Spectrum Multimedia Primer (Colourfix primer) and AS Supertooth Primer, which is toothier and comes out between Wallis and Colourfix closer to Wallis. Those go on clear and I use them either toning or underpainting with watercolor first. The main benefit there is "cheap sanded surfaces" and if I just want to practice, I use cheap watercolor pads that aren't all-rag. Very often get those on sale, watch for coupons and sales and stock up. Then use the good Arches with the primers if I don't have Colourfix paper or other sanded paper handy.

I have found the color of the surface does affect my painting a bit. I like the dark and medium surfaces better and think of them as easier, after years of "my choice of Mi Tientes" I love having a colored surface. But I'm starting to work more on white and light after Charlie's class and just rubbing in an underpainting to kill the white specks is enough. I love the effect of dark specks peeking through when working on black or dark paper though, of any surface really.

It was Mi Tientes and its amazing color range that left me set in the habit of "choose the surface for the subject" sometimes emphasizing the main color, sometimes its complement. Whether I cover it all depends on the particular piece too. I just liked the variety and when I started getting different coated and sanded papers, added them to the variety. Colourfix became a favorite in part because it has more colors than most.

Charlie, you're right about Unisons - they seem to be the friendliest with all surfaces of any of my pastels. They go on anything!

jakertanner
07-26-2014, 07:25 PM
Again, thanks to all who have been contributing to this thread, a lot of great information for the beginner. I will definitely take everything everyone said into account...now if I can just decide what paper to START with, all will be well...lol kidding, I am going to just dig in I guess.

Painting on canvas seems so much easier now, with fewer choices. However, in the end, I feel that I will end up making my own surfaces, and call it a day.

Great stuff!!

jakertanner
07-26-2014, 07:28 PM
I would love to go 100% Unison, but I am not sure that most experienced painters just pick one...I think my combination is going to be Nupastel, Rembrandt and either Unison or Richeson or Mungyo softs...Unison I gotta buy a little at a time, the others are cheap, but soft too.

Still-trying
07-26-2014, 10:14 PM
IMHO, you will get what you pay for with the Unisons over the other two. Happy painting

jakertanner
07-26-2014, 11:24 PM
IMHO, you will get what you pay for with the Unisons over the other two. Happy painting


It's so darn hard to decide. Unison actually makes a comment without naming the Mungyo handmade pastels, that there can look like Unisons, but they don't behave like them..I definitely see a difference, but for now, I can use them to practice with, since they're like $2 a stick, versus $5-7.50 each.

The Richeson's I am still on the fence with, because they are different than the Unisons and Mungyo, plus they are about twice the size, and since Richeson also has the unison brand at the moment i was considering them, but they are made in China, so perhaps another red flag??? Endless decisions...lol

The brand that I am not so enthusiastic about is Schmincke...I have tried them at the store a few times, but for the price, I am not sure they are better than unisons, and they feel a little like lipstick, instead of a very soft pastel...but I am new to this, so I am still wanting to try them.

I think to be honest, the only paper they have at the store is plain sketch book paper, so maybe the Schmincke brand needs more tooth?

robertsloan2
07-26-2014, 11:44 PM
Mount Vision is another hand rolled brand that's very good, has a great range and is enormous compared to Unisons or anything else. Bang for the buck on hand rolled, consider Mount Visions.

Also consider buying online at Blick or Jerry's Artarama. Blick runs these great coupons, 20% off and free shipping over $99 was the last one I used. You can get the same artist grade brands at much lower prices online if you watch for sales and coupons. Sometimes Unison or Mount Vision go on sale specifically and sometimes the coupon and the sale stack.

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 12:40 AM
Mount Vision is another hand rolled brand that's very good, has a great range and is enormous compared to Unisons or anything else. Bang for the buck on hand rolled, consider Mount Visions.

Also consider buying online at Blick or Jerry's Artarama. Blick runs these great coupons, 20% off and free shipping over $99 was the last one I used. You can get the same artist grade brands at much lower prices online if you watch for sales and coupons. Sometimes Unison or Mount Vision go on sale specifically and sometimes the coupon and the sale stack.

Thanks Robert,

The Artarama closest to me has Mungyo handmade for $2 each, they actually match their online process, so I'd rather go in store to save the shipping.

Blick's online prices are pretty good, but I would need a few items to justify the shipping cost.

Also, here there is a Jerrys Artist outlet that has Rembrandts for $2.45ea, which was a 2 month sale, and next month they have the Rishesons for $2.35 ea....I would love to try Mount Visions, but I see they are only online. Maybe I can request a sample or two...Thanks for the suggestions.

I may have to just make a trip to Manhattan to the better stores, I am sure they have a wider variety in the city.

jackiesimmonds
07-27-2014, 05:32 AM
Schmincke is my very favourite, but I use them in combination with harder pastels for the early layers, and shift to softer pastels towards the end of the image where I want highlights. I have a variety of manufacturers, Unison are lovely but not as soft as Schminke and I would not be without my "white with sunlight" from Schminke, as described before. I also use Rowney, but doubt you can get those. BUT THE BOTTOM LINE is that I just use Hard together with Soft. I don't really care whose is whose, and none of them work better than any other on any particular surface as far as I am concerned. Ask any 10 painters this question, and you will likely get 10 different answers anyway!!! How everyone works is different, and the results they achieve will therefore differ.

The best advice I can give you, is the title of one of my blog posts, which proved to be the most popular post I have written, judging by the number of views. It is "stop dithering and get on with it".
Said with a smile.
:)

Jackie

Still-trying
07-27-2014, 07:26 AM
Jake, the Fine Arts Store has really good prices and great color charts. They are regularly cheaper than the other online stores. Example, Mount Visions are $2.89 each. That's a lot of cheaper than the other stores. Unison are 3.89 each. I broke my mount visions in three when I bought them. And summer time, and 'back to school' will give very good sales and deals everywhere. Today is a mystery box sale at terry ludwig. Good luck

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 07:55 AM
Schmincke is my very favourite, but I use them in combination with harder pastels for the early layers, and shift to softer pastels towards the end of the image where I want highlights. I have a variety of manufacturers, Unison are lovely but not as soft as Schminke and I would not be without my "white with sunlight" from Schminke, as described before. I also use Rowney, but doubt you can get those. BUT THE BOTTOM LINE is that I just use Hard together with Soft. I don't really care whose is whose, and none of them work better than any other on any particular surface as far as I am concerned. Ask any 10 painters this question, and you will likely get 10 different answers anyway!!! How everyone works is different, and the results they achieve will therefore differ.

The best advice I can give you, is the title of one of my blog posts, which proved to be the most popular post I have written, judging by the number of views. It is "stop dithering and get on with it".
Said with a smile.
:)

Jackie

Hi Jackie, you are correct...I have hard pastels and soft, I need to just get with it. My reservations with the the Richeson's and Mungyo handmade are lightfastness, other than that, i would be fine using them..I really would love to try the Schminckes...maybe I'll pick up a few colors for the sunlight as you mentioned.

Thanks again for your reply..

There is a materials fair coming up in NY, I plan on attending, maybe get more hands on insight.

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 07:58 AM
Jake, the Fine Arts Store has really good prices and great color charts. They are regularly cheaper than the other online stores. Example, Mount Visions are $2.89 each. That's a lot of cheaper than the other stores. Unison are 3.89 each. I broke my mount visions in three when I bought them. And summer time, and 'back to school' will give very good sales and deals everywhere. Today is a mystery box sale at terry ludwig. Good luck

hi,

I will check that store out, the price on Unisons is very low in comparison. I am afraid of ebay, although they have good prices, but I am not sure what I am getting.

Will also check the Ludwig sale. And my local Jerrysartistoutlet, has a back to school sale starting in August. Thanks again.

Still-trying
07-27-2014, 08:01 AM
Jake, where is the materials fair in New York that you mentioned, please?

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 08:22 AM
Jake, where is the materials fair in New York that you mentioned, please?


here is the link, scroll down toward bottom.

http://www.pastelsocietyofamerica.org/index_annualexhibition.htm

15 Gramercy Park S, New York, NY 10003

jackiesimmonds
07-27-2014, 08:28 AM
going to an art fair is always great fun. Just one word of warning....I advise not to go rushing off to buy the exact same combo you see being demonstrated by someone. Just because they get particular effects, doesn't mean you will! People so often fall into that trap.

Treat it as a chance to try out all sorts of things, there should be samples of everything for you to experiment with. It's a good chance, usually, to pick up bargains too, discounts are often offered.

J

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 10:10 AM
going to an art fair is always great fun. Just one word of warning....I advise not to go rushing off to buy the exact same combo you see being demonstrated by someone. Just because they get particular effects, doesn't mean you will! People so often fall into that trap.

Treat it as a chance to try out all sorts of things, there should be samples of everything for you to experiment with. It's a good chance, usually, to pick up bargains too, discounts are often offered.

J

Exactly what I am looking for, to get an idea of various types to try. I don't think I'd buy any sets, I much prefer to get open stock of the colors I would use. However, I am currently trying to finish off my collection of Rembrandts, I am almost there,...just to have the complete set since I am so close.

I think if I go with a set, it will be a started set, then I can add colors to that from the suggested landscape or portrait sets already available.

I know what you mean about the impulse to buy...in the audio world there is an exhibition called the AES show, where pro audio gear is displayed, so I am looking forward to this materials fair for the same reason...very exciting and knowledgeable. Also, being able to speak directly to the manufacturers is a big plus...hopefully they'll give away some samples I would imagine.

Still-trying
07-27-2014, 12:11 PM
Thanks Jake. I forgot about the show. Ill be sure to go in. Im in New Jersey

Colorix
07-27-2014, 12:56 PM
My reservations with the the Richeson's .... handmade are lightfastness, ....

I have some of them -- got them for half price, just to test them -- and the use they get is that I lend them to students who forgot to bring their pastels to class.

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 01:46 PM
I have some of them -- got them for half price, just to test them -- and the use they get is that I lend them to students who forgot to bring their pastels to class.


So you are saying through testing them, you don't think they are of true artist quality on the long run? I am not married to them, I'm just looking for a cheaper alternative for the time being that will get me close to Unison or Ludwigs..Mount Visions..etc without the cost for now.

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 01:53 PM
Thanks Jake. I forgot about the show. Ill be sure to go in. Im in New Jersey

Jay, I look forward to going, will be my first one...I will message you when i will be there, maybe we can meet...I am in NJ as well.

Colorix
07-27-2014, 03:33 PM
Jake, I've PM:ed you.

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 03:44 PM
Jake, I've PM:ed you.


replied, thanks!!

JPQ
07-27-2014, 08:22 PM
Even my schmincke some yellows look less opaque but very opague still. To me all Rembrandts (all are yellow greens) are too transparent which is one reason why i dont like them. Another is smell why i dont buy them even for backgrounds.

jakertanner
07-27-2014, 09:00 PM
Even my schmincke some yellows look less opaque but very opague still. To me all Rembrandts (all are yellow greens) are too transparent which is one reason why i dont like them. Another is smell why i dont buy them even for backgrounds.

Your saying Rembrandts have an odor?