View Full Version : Has anyone tried this surface?

11-07-2003, 09:59 AM
Hey everybody.... I want to thank you all for making me feel so welcome in this forum.

I am fairly new to pastels and only have a few works under my belt. So far I have only worked on gessoed masonite and was wondering if anyone else has? If so what are your likes/dislikes about the surface? I have discussed this with a few of you personally but wanted to open it up to the whole forum.

My likes:
Inexpensive... sturdy surface... great texture (not real smooth yet not real toothy)... easy to prepare.

My dislikes:
I found that when working with charcoal I had to smudge with chamois vs fingers due to the ease of fingerprints. I did not run into this problem when working with both oil and soft pastels. No dislikes... love it!

4'x8' sheets of smooth masonite ("Panel Board") 1/4" thick can be purchased at Lowe's for about $8 US dollars. Cut to desired size (Most lumber yards will cut it for you at 25 cents per cut). Make a mixture of 50 % acrylic gessoe and 50% water. Paint onto surface and allow to dry. I vary my paint strokes and even leave the air bubbles for added texture. I usually use one caot and do not sand. You may even want to tone the board by adding arylic color to the mixture.

Example of surface once prepared:

Examples with soft pastels:
"Seated Nude" after Modigliani (8x10)

"Woman Combing Her Hair" after Degas (16x20)

Close-Up showing texture of surface:

Example with oil pastels:
Blues Man (8x10)

I look forward to hearing your comments and encourage you to try this surface if you never have.

Sorry about the length of this thread.;)

11-07-2003, 10:24 AM
Hi Rosic,

I'm also pretty new to soft pastels, having finally got a box the other day. I've been using oil pastels and charcoal for a while though. I've not tried working on masonite, gessoed or otherwise, but I have used gessoed cardboard as a support for both oil pastels and charcoal before.

I think it's a great surface to work on. The acrylic gesso gives a nice tooth to the otherwise slightly too smooth surface, and it also makes for very easy blending. Of course, that can cut both ways as it's all too easy to smudge unintentionally, but I certainly prefer it to plain paper for oil pastels. I haven't yet tried it with soft pastels, but doubtless will before too long.

BTW I like the paintings you displayed here. The guitar in the last one looks a bit like mine. :)

11-07-2003, 10:40 AM
You've done a great job. Love the man especially. I have tried oil pastels and Had one heck of a time with those. I need to try them more. I must be doing something wrong because I have trouble getting them to blend

Kathryn Wilson
11-07-2003, 12:37 PM
I think the brushwork in your prepared surface gives wonderful texture to your paintings. IMO, I like the first one, but they are all great.


Mary Robinson
11-07-2003, 01:48 PM
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. You seem to have a way with the surface you are using, Rosic, if it's working for you, that's all that matters. And it's definitely working, love the colors and the textures.


11-07-2003, 01:48 PM
I often work with a gessoed surface, but I dilute the gesso and mix it with a tiny bit of marble dust, which is a bit like talcum powder. This makes a marvellous surface.

Also, it is nice to try to have a surface without brush marks sometimes. People do sand their boards down between coats. It is good to try different approaches.

Nice pics.

11-07-2003, 02:58 PM

I love this place

I just started oils and got hardboard at HOME DEPOT and gessoed all week

Now I can try this!!!


11-07-2003, 04:57 PM
Your surface sounds interesting..I have not tried anything like that but maybe I will now.
I really like your paintings!


11-07-2003, 05:13 PM
Hi Rosic,

Good looking work also an interesting texure, you've inspried me to give it a try.

11-07-2003, 07:11 PM
I'm new to pastels ytself. Yours are great. I like the texture of your boards. May have to try this.



11-07-2003, 08:18 PM
What great paintings! linda b

11-07-2003, 11:51 PM
Originally posted by jackiesimmonds
I often work with a gessoed surface, but I dilute the gesso and mix it with a tiny bit of marble dust, which is a bit like talcum powder. This makes a marvellous surface.

This sounds so interesting. What does the marble dust do for the surface? Where do you find it? I loved your advice about fear in a previous thread. Thanks for your kind comments.

Magnus (great to hear from you again), Luvy, Kat (neighbor), Mary, Pampe, Sandy, David, Li, and Linda:
I want to thank each of you for taking time to view my work and offer your suggestions and kind words.:)

11-08-2003, 04:32 AM
I buy my marble dust powder from a top-flight art materials supplier in the UK. Perhaps you could do a search on the net for someone in your country.

The marble dust adds "tooth" to the acrylic gesso. If you put two or three thin coats onto board, you get a superb surface to work on. The marble dust goes a very long way, a little bag will last for ages. You only need a teaspoon into a cup of thinned acrylic gesso.

Some people sand the board between coats; I don't bother, but it could be worth a try, to end up with a completely mark-free surface for a change.

You can then stain that surface a colour, if you wish; or, you could put a drop or two of acrylic paint, or even gouache or watercolour, into the acrylic gesso mix, and paint your board with that.

One thing to bear in mind...thinnish boards will warp. When dry, you should put them under a few heavy books to straighten out...or paint both sides, that will stop the warping.


11-08-2003, 07:27 AM
Here in the US I've found Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels and applied it to masonite panels. Provides a wonderful pastel surface with that nice tooth that marble dust provides. It's been a while since I bought my jar, I haven't used it much, and it lasts a while. This is from memory, but I believe it was about $14 for 8 oz. I believe that it also comes in different tints so you can have a tinted surface. You can also apply multiple layers so you can see the brush strokes or build up your surface. Since I can buy it at my local art supply store this works better for me than finding marble dust and mixing with gesso. One downside, there is a warning about containing a chemical (doesn't say which one) "known to the State of California to cause cancer." I used gloves when applying and do so in a well ventilated area.

Bubba's Mama
11-08-2003, 09:02 AM
Hi all - I cut my own mats and frame my own watercolors and acrylics, and I have found that using the offcuts from the colored mats, and covering them with the Golden Acrylica Ground for Pastels makes great pastel boards. The nifty thing about the Golden, is that it dries clear, leaving the colored background intact.

Might want to try that if you want a support that weighs less than the masonite.



11-08-2003, 09:44 AM
Thanks for the info about marble dust (and other stuff) and how to apply it.

Your info has been most helpful. We are practically neighbors... I live in Jacksonville. Do you know Kyle from this forum who also lives in Raleigh?

Susan... Great idea with the mat board... gotta be a lot lighter. I use the masonite for the same reason you use the mat board... I have plenty around and don't like to waste anything. I had a photography studio for ten years and have a ton of 16x20/20x24 portraits mounted on masonite that I used to use for displaying my work... needless to say... if you flipped over any one of my pastels or charcoals you might see a smiling face or even half a leg. LOL!

Gonna have to rate this thread now!... you guys have given me so much useful information.:D

11-08-2003, 07:01 PM
Art Spectrum pastel primer is wonderful. Comes in all the colours of their wonderful boards, and no mixing required, just slap it on! Try the elephant grey, and the pink one - yummy.

11-13-2003, 12:28 PM
Hey Jackie...

what kinds of surfaces do you put the primer on?

Anyone else feel free to add ideas if you also use this primer.

Originally posted by jackiesimmonds
Art Spectrum pastel primer is wonderful. Comes in all the colours of their wonderful boards, and no mixing required, just slap it on! Try the elephant grey, and the pink one - yummy.

12-31-2003, 07:30 PM
ha, just brought this back up with a search after Pampe started a thread on pumice....I am trying to get a NON-acrylic background as I hate acrylic plasticity under my oil pastels....I just ordered Fredrix marble dust from Dick Blick, 4 pounds for $3.39...great price! But now I'm trying to figure out a binder for it and gouache and water....maybe Jackie knows if the watered down gesso is not plastic feeling. I've so far thought of Elmer's and woodworking glue for a binder but wondering if this will crack. Heard adding honey keeps it more flexible, at least for a gilding gesso. Also thinking of applying it to a watercolor type paper...if i do both sides, perhaps it would work??? I know you use the gesso Rosic...is it plastic feeling????

Vegas Art Guy
12-31-2003, 07:40 PM
I tried an OP piece on gesso'd masonite and I was not thrilled with the results. Of course most of that was my own indecisivness in the drawing, I may go back and give it another whirl. Very informative discussion here...