View Full Version : Pumice gel for pastels???

12-30-2003, 11:57 AM
I picked up some COARSE PUMICE GEL (Golden)

Wondered if I could use it on paper to make a pastel ground???

12-30-2003, 12:00 PM
Hi Pam - I'm waiting to hear what you learn. I'm thinking about putting something like that on a board to make a large painting.

When I was in a art shop in Maine this summer, someone sold me a jar of "Jo Sonja's artists quality background color" VELLUM - not sure what it is but he said it would mix well with pumice or silicon. Where do you buy that?


12-30-2003, 12:28 PM
Barb, I got this at DICK BLICK in LAs Vegas

It's pretty corse, though...I probably should have gotten the "fine"

This might be better for adding to gesso for oils

12-30-2003, 12:52 PM
I have some of the fine- ummm- you have to coat both sides of the paper or it buckles terribly because of the weight and slow drying time. Then there's the brush strokes left behind- *sigh*- dunno if I find it worth my time to sand the sanded coat I put on a piece of paper....

I'm considering trying it on something a bit stiffer- matboard or something, and using one of those sponge-type "brushes" to avoid the brush marks as much as possible. As to whether or not it is toothy enough to hold pastel as well as the commercial sanded papers: No. It's good for a couple layers, but it hasn't nearly the "grit" of, like, Sennelier carte. Perhaps the coarse is a better idea? On the plus side, you can tint it any colour you want.

Good luck- let us know how you did- I could've easily messed up the process since I was winging it.

Marc Sabatella
12-30-2003, 02:32 PM
Originally posted by SweetBabyJ
I have some of the fine- ummm- you have to coat both sides of the paper or it buckles terribly because of the weight and slow drying time. Then there's the brush strokes left behind

I *like* the brushstrokes, for what it's worth - lends an interesting texture to the painting. But distracting and hard to work around if you're going for a lot of detail.

BTW, I've found that instead of actually coating both sides of paper to reduce buckling, it suffices to simply *wet* the back before applying the texture to the front. But I haven't used this particularly gel product; Iv'e used a homemade mixture of gesso and pumice as well as the Art Spectrum primer.

Works great on masonite, too. With matboard, you have to be careful - some of that stuff is kind of water-soluble, and starts to disintegrate when it gets wet, leaving "burrs" on the finished surface that are way more of a pain than the brushstrokes.

I agree the end result is not as toothy as something like Wallis, but it's way more than Canson.

12-30-2003, 05:36 PM

Guess I'll play...I have some unprimed masonite....

12-30-2003, 09:41 PM
I bought some of the "fine" pumice gel by Golden when I had worn out the tooth on a painting I was doing. What a lifesaver! I had already started my picture for the second time and really did not want to start over for a third time. Someone here recommended it. This stuff is awesome for restoring lost tooth!

You can thin it with water, which is what I ended up doing. Straight from jar was a bit to texturey. Watering it down helped alot. Applied it rather lightly as I was working on Canson paper which buckled a bit from water.

Deborah Secor
12-30-2003, 11:36 PM
I've used both the fine and the coarse and I like them a lot for different applications. A few years back I did some hummingbirds on rag mat. I colored the mat with a layer of bright gold watercolors (I'll try to describe that another time--neat stuff), let that dry and then used a brayer (Like a little hard roller that you find used in printmaking) to roll on a layer of the pumice gel. It has a slightly grayish cast that dulled the bright gold. Then I delicately painted the birds in pastels over that. The fine hasn't a lof of tooth so it takes some skill. The coarse is a little too gritty for the fine detail of the hummers, which I paint lifesize.

I liked the coarse for heavy undertexture. I've taken a paper towel and dabbed over it while wet to give it a deeper texture. In fact, I like to do that as part of the composition. For instance, in painting some trees I used strokes with a brush in the coarse gel to establish the trunk and branches, then dabbed around for the leafy areas, and rolled with the brayer to make the sky and other smooth parts. Then when dry I added the pastels and it almost paintied itself.

I use 4-ply rag mat, which is heavy enough to take it, and haven't had to wet the back. Once it's dry it's flat--but this is humid-less New Mexico, which may be why that worked...

I also tried it on masonite, which is nice, but I hate lugging it around. The weight of masonite, frame and glass is amazing. I tried a lot of surfaces and it was quite versatile and fun. All in all, I'd choose the fine grit first, but I had one painting that won big prizes on that coarse stuff (the tree one!) so whose to say? Play--have fun.


12-31-2003, 01:52 AM
I have the fine stuff and like it very much. I put it on watercolor paper-doesn't buckle much-, canvas paper and mattboard. I mix it with white and black gesso, acrylics, a combination of those, and put it on straight when I want to keep the underneath color. Oh, I also put it over a watercolor underpainting and then put pastels on top of that. I mostly do o.p.s these days, but have used it for softies, too.

12-31-2003, 02:01 AM
I buy fine pumice from beauty supply places on the net. You really have to search for it though as I forgot the company name. You have to get fine and it's only $4 for a good size bag. I still have a bag left. I put 2 coffee measurements full into my gesso and tint it with a dab of acrylic then get a smooth roller at home depot and apply several layers. I do not sand it because I want tooth. It feels close to wallis and I have been so satisfied with it I won't buy premade pumice gel because it's so expensive. Utrecht by far has the best inexpensive professional gesso.

To me it's the closest tooth I can get to hold well. I can't image course pumice with pastel though....


12-31-2003, 02:08 AM
I checked my bag and the website is www.lemelange.com

Here is the direct link to the dry ultra fine pumice powder. It's a GREAT exfoliant too for legs - careful with the face though..

Perfect for pastel ground!


Try and it and post your results. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Deborah Secor
12-31-2003, 11:31 AM
Thanks for the link, Kelly. I've found the pumice at ceramic supply houses too. Not expensive at all--but scarce. We pastelists may up the demand! I always get the fine or extra fine. My recipe is simple:

2/3 C. acrylic gesso
1/3 C. water
4-6 level T. pumice (I've used marble dust too, tho not as gritty)

I often adjust the pumice amounts, even sometimes dusting it onto wet gesso using a sieve, then knocking excess pumice off the dry board. (I do all this outdoors and wear a mask, as it can be very dusty!) I use different colored acrylic paints to tone it sometimes, though I like to do that in separate containers so I can use different colors. I put this on 4-ply rag mat usually.

One wonderful aspect of any of these, the Golden gel, Spectrum primer or your own mixture, is that you can easily restore the surface if you need to. If it's not toothy enough, add more. If you blow the painting in one part, re-coat and go on. So convenient.

Like kimo I've restored La Carte using the Golden gel. I had a customer bring a finished portrait of her dog back because the dog had slobbered on part of it and the whole surface beneath one portion was gone. (If you know La Carte, you know what I mean. One drop of water and it washes off the vegetable fiber coating, leaving a glaring, slick white spot.) I used the fine gel to make some tooth and fixed up the whole thing like new. Whew! Sure glad it wasn't the face, just a portion of the legs and body.


Marc Sabatella
12-31-2003, 03:14 PM
I get my pumice at a woodworking supply store. - it is sometimes used for hand-rubbed finishes on furniture, I gather. It actually comes in more grades than just "fine" and "coarse". The stuff I have is manufactured by "Rainbow" and is marked "FF"; there is also F (coarser), FFF (finer), and I think even FFFF (super fine).

12-31-2003, 03:15 PM

great info

I have rated this thread a "5"


12-31-2003, 04:32 PM
hey....I HATE acrylic under my oil pastels...am thinking of using gouache for tinting...does anyone know if this would work with the pumice??? Am going to rate this too....could everyone else???

Deborah Secor
12-31-2003, 04:35 PM
Sue, I think it would work. I tried some poster paint in it once and that worked fine, though I had to mix and mix. Try it and let us know!


12-31-2003, 04:36 PM
Thanks, Deborah...I will try I think.

12-31-2003, 05:34 PM
I just found Fredrix powdered marble at Dick Blicks for $3.39 for 4 pounds in case anyone is looking...wasn't in their catalog that I could find but was online... the order number is 08926-1004....just ordered it and some gouache to try for my underpaintings...so some time in the next couple weeks will let you know if this combination works!

12-31-2003, 05:41 PM
ok...just realized something...I need some kind of a binder and do NOT want to use acrylic gesso...any suggestions????

Deborah Secor
12-31-2003, 06:52 PM
Fredrix Gesso Ground Dry Mix might do it. Try Pearl paint or maybe Daniel Smith. You have to cook it! Not slick though.


PS googled it and it's all over the place!

12-31-2003, 07:03 PM
Deborah..thanks...that would work but I already have the marble dust and the gouache has the whiting so really just need a binder...but found out that woodworking glue is really made of rabbit glue so it will probably work...been on LOTS of google searches today lol!!! Watering down the gesso enough MIGHT get rid of the plasticity too...will have to wait til my marble dust comes and experiment...inventory week so have to wait til Monday for shipment...

01-01-2004, 04:14 AM

I have heard that marble dust does not provide the same tooth pumice does. I agree that I don't like the plastic acrylic gesso feeling. If I add pumice to it with water (and you could water down some gouche or even dry pigment) then use a roller, it won't dry as plastic on you.

Try the marble dust and let us know what you think. If you try the pumice, it wears on your fingers because it's like sand paper, which I like:)


01-01-2004, 01:36 PM
thanks, Kelly....but hmmmmm.....do you like the paper or the wearing on your fingers??? :p I will let you know how it works out...I like the Wallis I tried except I could only get it in white and it took a bit of wetting done but then started to disintegrate...also like the LaCarte sanded pastel paper...but again won't take wetting. And I've had the urge to do some experimenting with backgrounds lately....:rolleyes:

01-01-2004, 08:18 PM

I'm slow at pastels and faster at oil painting than pastel, so it gives my fingers time to recover.

I just didn't care for the pastel paper that is out there and it could be my degree of know-how but when I put pigment some where I want it to stick, so I like the sand paper feel.

I often use alittle pumice for oil painting for tooth especially if I add acrylic paint to it for a tint because the more acrylic you add tp the gesso the more plastic it feels and looses tooth, so I add pumice to it all:cat:


01-02-2004, 11:45 AM
I've rated the thread as a "5" and am now begging the powers-that-be to add it to the library. Lots of great information here!


Vegas Art Guy
01-02-2004, 12:04 PM
I just rated this thread a 5 as well. Very informative, I see I have a whole bunch to learn.... :)

01-03-2004, 04:10 PM
OK...so I tried the coarse gel with gesso and water on Canson MiTeintes and HP watercolor paper....looks very rough...should I sand it?

08-03-2009, 12:08 PM
I just stumbled onto this old thread when looking for an answer to a different question and wanted to add something here as an update: Golden now puts out Acrylic Ground for Pastels. I just triple-coated two 9x12 masonite panels and am eager to try it. I've been using Wallis and, in comparison, the texture of this Ground is not as toothy to the touch, so I'll probably have less "fiddling" tooth to make up my mind when working:eek: :lol:


Donna T
08-04-2009, 07:57 AM
Diane, I haven't read through all of this but hope you know about Golden's Fine Pumice Gel also. It makes a very nice, not-too-toothy surface.


08-04-2009, 01:14 PM
I added more pumice to the fine pumice gel and really like the texture it makes. It is along the lines of what Susan Ogilvie does. I mixed up some acrylic paint to make a peach color but when added to the pumice gel which is gray in color it turned a salmon color. works great and I actually love the color. I did dilute the acrylic and the pumice gel.