View Full Version : Pastelmat - discuss

07-12-2015, 10:28 AM
Hi everyone :wave: ... I have noticed a few people using pastelmat and I haven't noticed here in the Arts stores, but I have found it on line. I noticed it was more expensive than the Cansen paper I have been buying. So ... can people share there experience with this paper, pro's and cons ...
Personally I don't like the heavily textured papers ... how does pastelmat rate? ... Im keen to give it a try but as I have to add the cost of postage on top of the purchase price, id just like a little more incite on it before I jump in

Emma :cool:

07-12-2015, 11:12 AM
I love Pastelmat.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of texture to it, but it grabs color like a sanded paper. Great for fine details. I'm not a fan of texture either and I think you can achieve an even smoother look with Pastelmat than with Canson paper.

PROS- fine texture, great for details, nice selection of colors. The pads come with a glassine protective cover between sheets. Nice heavy weight paper.

CONS- expensive (check Amazon- best prices I've found) Undersized pads- they are about 1/2 inch undersized in both dimensions. (if sizing is critical,I'd get full sheets and cut them down) I have a slight problem keeping it flat, it curls, I think it may be from the humidity here. Doesn't take as many layers as some other sanded papers.

I can easily live with the CONS. It has changed the way I work for the better. It solved all the problems that had frustrated me for the last couple years. The paintings I've done on Pastelmat have an almost gouache look to them that I really like.

07-12-2015, 01:22 PM
PastelMat takes some practice, but it is very good.

You know how paintings go through an ugly stage between starting and nearing the end of the tunnel? I think PastelMat has a longer ugly stage, which unfortunately has me giving up before the fruits of finishing. Even though it is smoother, I think it takes more pastel than sanded papers, so the extra layers have me going astray? Not sure. I think I've only finished two paintings with it, although I was happy with them.

Another observation about it is that with the firm plastic backing, it takes a very long time to dry, if you are using a wet medium. It also blossoms out a lot, and I prefer watercolor underpaintings that are more exact. I find it difficult to use, especially, if trying to do an underpainting while en plein air. I have to be doing a parallel piece to stay occupied while it dries.

Again, it just takes practice. I've had enough other sanded paper and Pastelbord on hand that I have not *had* to use what I have.

Moqui Steps
07-12-2015, 06:10 PM
My question for you would be what brand and grit of "heavily textured" papers have you used? With that information I think better advice on the PastelMat can be given.

07-12-2015, 07:35 PM
Thankyou all for your feedback, slightly conflicting advice here and the first time I've read something negative ... so now Im a little more cautious!
Has any one used Colourfix papers? and are they similar to Pastelmat .. the write up sounded similar and I can access the Colourfix locally.

Donald, I have used various paper brands, I haven't used sanded/grit papers, just (pressed?) textured papers. I have only been using pastels for 4 or so months so its all quite new ...

Moqui Steps
07-12-2015, 10:04 PM
Donald, I have used various paper brands, I haven't used sanded/grit papers, just (pressed?) textured papers. I have only been using pastels for 4 or so months so its all quite new ...

In that case I would highly recommend that you try either some Pastel Premier in various grits - I like the 320 and the 400, Fisher 400, or UArt papers (again, I like the 320 and 400 grit.) They are all very similar to each other. These sanded papers have a very evenly applied tooth or grit to them but not a pattern like texture that you can see or that shows up when you apply pastels.

If you like working on regular non textured paper, you might like PastelMat. It is very smooth but takes pastels almost as well as sanded papers, or some of the finer grits like 500, 600 etc. from UArt and Pastel Premier.

Get some sample packs of the various papers people have mentioned. It will be well worth the time and money spent to see which ones you prefer. The only pastel surface that I really dislike are the Ampersand pastel boards.

This place in Oz stocks UArt pastel papers, Pastel Premier as well as PastelMat.


This pack will give you the full range of sanded to try:


The Fisher 400 folks in the UK might send you some small samples for free to try if you ask. It is very close to UArt 400 in feel.

Good luck on your quest!

07-13-2015, 11:05 AM
I like it. It feels smooth, but holds a lot of layers. It surprises most people that it can do this when they first try it. It also takes to wet media so under paintings are not an issue. My only knocks against it are two. First, you can dent the surface creating a void that does not want to take color. Second, the sizes are a bit odd for most frames. If you frame with a matt, it's probably not an issue. If you go matt less, you will find yourself making a lot compromises on frame sizes so you don't over buy too much on the size sheet.

Barbara WC
07-13-2015, 11:05 AM
I personally use the following three papers almost exclusively: PastelMat, Canson Mi-Tientes and Sennelier La Carte. I do not care for the true "sanded" papers, although sometimes use UArt. I do not like Colourfix...

While the other sanded papers are mainly made from hard particles of different sizes, PastelMat is made from a cellulose matrix and has a sort of 'soft" surface, almost like suede matboard. It doesn't feel like sandpaper at all like the other papers. PastelMat really grips the pastels, and I find the paper is somewhat "gentle" to my pastels- the true sanded papers, like UArt, Colourfix, etc, seem to eat up my pastels faster.

PastelMat can get wet- however, I find the texture changes just a bit- but it's still okay. PastelMat holds a fair number of layers (in my hands, about 5-6 layers of color), more than say Canson Mi-tientes, but it does not hold as many layers as papers such as the heavier grit Uart, Wallis, Colourfix, etc...

Interestingly, my other favorite paper, Sennelier La Carte, which has a "gritty" texture, is also made from a cork/vegetable ground. I like this surface when I like to do a painting with more layers- but it isn't "gritty" like the other sanded papers, it's a little "softer", hard to explain.

All this said though, since you are in Australia, I suggest you try Colourfix paper and see how you like that. It is made in Australia, so should be readily available to you at a good price. Colourfix comes in some fabulous colors, and can get wet if you want to experiment with wet underpaintings. Plenty of people here in the US and around the world, love Colorufix paper, it's just not one of my favorites, although I have done some nice paintings on this paper. On Colourfix, you will be able to put many more layers of pastel than then Canson paper you've been using. If you have a framing store near you, you might check if they have sueded matboard and see if you can buy a small scrap. Although not exactly like PastelMat, it's probably the closest I've found, although PastelMat is nicer in my opinion...

To get a feel for the papers like Pastel Premier and UArt sanded papers, go into your garage, and if you have any wood sanding papers, try your pastels on that surface- it will give you a feel for what those two papers, and others in the "sanded" range are like...
Good luck!

07-14-2015, 03:09 AM
So much helpful information here, I appreciate the effort every one has gone to, so thank you all!

I have had a look at the sanded papers but I don't like the feel of them so have steered away from them, they feel like they would eat a lot of pastel quickly as well.
I think I might try the colourfix after what you have said Barbra, the write up sounded similar to the pastelmat and it sounds like its going to be the closest thing I can readily lay my hands on without having to pay extra postage on top. I'm quiet happy with the paper I have been using so far, although I do get frustrated trying to fill in all the little holes! If this solves that issue then I will be happy!

Thank you again for all the advice, its terrific!

07-14-2015, 11:58 AM
I'm quiet happy with the paper I have been using so far, although I do get frustrated trying to fill in all the little holes!

Try turning it over. Most people that I know who use Canson use the smooth side.

Barbara WC
07-14-2015, 05:01 PM

Colourfix paper is very different from PastelMat. Probably the closest thing you will get to PastelMat, is Sueded Matboard (check at a framing store for Sueded Matboard). However, even then, the surfaces of those two are very different.

Colourfix has a unique surface too- and because it takes many layers of pastel, you will find it takes awhile to cover the surface- but this is a good thing if you want to blend a lot of different colors.

I agree with Mike- have you tried working on the reverse side of the Canson Mi-tientes? The back side is smoother and you won't have the "chicken wire" texture that might be driving you nuts. I work on both sides, but tend to use the smooth side more often...

Have fun!

07-15-2015, 11:54 PM
I love it, I bit the bullet and ordered it from softpastels. I find my colours stay cleaner with pastelmat and you can get a lot of pastel on it.
You could also try colourfix suede, it's not the same as pastelmat but is a smooth surface and probably not as expensive.

07-16-2015, 09:12 AM
Thanks Barbara, Mike and Deanna .... I have been using the flay side as well as the textured side ... but sort of thought maybe I was cheating myself a little by doing that.
Because of the expense of Pastelmat ... I think I might give the suede colourfix a go and if I have some success maybe then ill spend a little more on the Pastelmat ... but at approx. $50 for 4 sheets posted ... I can't just jump straight in :)

Barbara WC
07-16-2015, 12:49 PM
I forgot about suede colourfix! I don't care for the regular colourfix, but did like the little samples of the suede colourfix I got to try- yes, give that a go, comes in fun colors (better than PastelMat actually!) and it's a nice surface that is closer to PastelMat than most other surfaces...

Judy Manuche
07-18-2015, 11:50 AM
I am a portrait artists and I also do animals and still life. Here is my 2 cents...I have used colorfix, pastel mat, senellier, canson, wallis, Uart and some richeson boards and pastelboard.

Pastelmat: My favorite paper for portraits. it is smooth and will take a great deal of pastel, blends well, and doesn't rub my fingers raw.

Sennelier: beautiful to start, great sandy texture, but I have had trouble with the surface rubbing off, or I have accidentally sneezed on it or gotten it wet, the surface falls off and the painting ruined. Ugh. I no longer use it.

Canson: beautiful if you have a light touch, Ken Tiessen does beautiful work on it. I, however, cannot make it work for me, but it is cheap and I will keep trying!

Wallis: Use if often when I can get it. I have had some of it that has some defects in it, it is not very consistent. Some of my paintings have ridges in them that can be seen in sunlight or bright light. Great for underpaintings and landscapes.

Uart: As good as Wallis, and more consistent. I use it more than anything, especially for animals, great for fur.

Richeson boards and Pastel board: I don't like boards for pastels, no give, feels too stiff for my taste, and they are very hard to crop if you want to adjust the painting.

Colorfix: lots of texture, different colors, a good paper all around, although I do not currently use it.

I really think you should try pastel mat, but I also think it depends on what kind of painting you do. Hope that helps!