View Full Version : watercoloring the pastel paper befor use

11-29-2003, 01:20 PM
Has anyone tried watercoloring the pastel paper inorder to create a different background so as not to waste a ton of pastel for background? Do the pastels hold just as well after painting with WC? My pastel pad is all light pastel colors and I'd like some dark blue or even black background. Thanks


Kathryn Wilson
11-29-2003, 01:59 PM
Hi Mark: I think we have all tried pastels over watecolor and for the most part people have been pleased with the results. You also might try gouache - an opaque watercolor.

The simplest remedy tho' might be to buy dark Canson or Art Spectrum pastel paper - or Art Spectrum and Golden also sell jars of clear pumice you can add color to and apply it to a board or heavy watercolor paper.

Deborah Secor
11-29-2003, 02:41 PM
Those are all good ideas but here's one that's simple to use and doesn't involve watercolor or gouache. I just use Wallis paper and tone it using pastels.

I tape the paper to my board. Then I lay it horizontal and apply two light layers of color with the flat side of the stick (using cheap pastels like NuPastels or others). Then I use a foam house painting brush, the kind used on trim, to scrub the surface of the Wallis until it's an even tone. I rub roughly in all directions.

Sometimes I dip the foam brush in the dust that's fallen off into the tray of my easel to tone the paper, which is even more economical--but it's usually a sort of green gray, since I do so many landscapes. You can use any color, dark or light, but whatever you put down first tends to be the majority color and is what you go back to if you scrub the painting out. I love that I can correct, erase and move things using the foam brush, too. Very handy!


11-29-2003, 03:15 PM
thanks guys,

I think I'll try Deb's idea first. I like the foam brush tecnique too. I have those around the house.


Marc Sabatella
11-29-2003, 03:34 PM
Watercolor doesn't affect tooth to any appreciable degree, assuming you let it dry. If you work into it while still wet, the results are definitely different. Kind of interesting - the water dissolves the pastel a little, making the color deeper and richer, but filling the tooth very quickly.

Note some papers don't deal with water very well. When you write of a light colored pastel pad, I'm guessing you mean the Strathmore pastel paper. That stuff is pretty thin, and would probably buckle big time if you got it wet. I don't think it is particularly good paper even for pastel. You're much better off simply trying other papers, many of which come in darker colors (like Canson Mi-Tientes, probably the most popular choice).

BTW, regarding toning paper yourself with pastel - be sure to do it fairly lightly so you don't lose too much tooth. A lot of people use water, alcohol, or mineral spirits to dissolve the pastel and get a more even coat. But I'd still just as wary of doing that on the Strathmore paper as using watercolor.

Deborah Secor
11-29-2003, 03:52 PM
Marc is so right--do NOT use water on thin, wimpy papers and especially not on La Carte Pastel Card. It will remove the coating altogether! But Wallis is impervious to water and can be used with any kind of medium--I've even seen folks who did an oil wash and then painted over it with pastel (though why, I cannot figure out!)

The only thing Kitty recommends against is using frisket. You can scrub and scrub Wallis--you can use a floor brush and dunk the paper in the bathtub or put it outside under the hose and it comes up shining and happy, ready for the next round. I have some that I've wiped out three, four, even five or six times (I do demos for my classes) and then used for a finished painting that I framed and sold. The only thing you don't want to do is use any fixative, if you want to wipe out and reuse it.

I recommend the Wallis Museum grade if you want to wet it since it doesn't have much memory. My students use the Pro grade with the foam brush technique and it's just fine.

Have fun.

11-30-2003, 07:44 AM
If you do not want to waste the paper you have, then there is a simple solution to the problem of thin papers buckling. You stretch them.

All you do is dampen the back of a sheet of pastel paper, with a damp sponge. You will notice that the paper cockles, if it is thin paper.

Take a wooden board, and gently wet the board with your sponge. Roll your paper down onto the board, and then tape all around with brown parcel tape - the kind you have to wet.

Leave it to dry completely. Lay it flat, to dry.

It will dry tight as a drum, and then you can put watercolour washes onto it, and create some lovely backgrounds for pastel painting. The advice about using gouache ... if you have any...is good, because that is watercolour with chalk in it, it dries to a lovely chalky finish which takes the pastel really well. But if you only have watercolours, then splash away with your watercolours, you should not damage the paper if you use a soft brush, and when it dries, you will have a wonderful coloured sheet of paper to work on.


12-01-2003, 02:11 PM

You guessed it: Strathmore 110# paper. Whimpy beyond belief.:crying: . The strecthing sounds good. I'm suppose to get some Coulorfix pastel paper soon. I've only used the Strathmore for paper that is.