View Full Version : Who makes the smoothest sanded paper?

02-11-2008, 04:26 PM

Well, in my close-mindedness, I had decided a year or so ago to not follow the trend of working on popular sanded papers, and instead trying to capitalize on the inherent texture of papers like Canson and Fabriano. Well, as it turns out, I don't like the result and I envy the smooth paint-like texture I see in other people's work.

The thing is, when I tried a sanded paper, I thought it was too rough, and it ate up my pastels and made a huge mess, and I couldn't blend like I wanted. But yesterday, while experiementing, I pulled out a cheap piece of 1500 grit wet/dry black sandpaper and LOVED the way that felt. The pastel glided on, laid down rich opaque color in one stroke, took additional layers, and you could blend it with a finger as smooth as any oil paint.

So, what I want to know is, who makes a paper that's going to feel like that? From my observation and familiarity with sandpaper, I would say that the pastel papers and boards I have seen are more like 600 grit sandpaper, or maybe lower. Also, what about primers like Colorfix? How does that compare in "gritty-ness"? I've seen mention on here of things like velour paper, but I never knew there was such a thing. Is that more like what I'm looking for?

Keep in mind (before everyone tells me I need all that tooth ;) ) is that I have been working towards a style that calls for fairly flat opaque color and lots of light and shadows, so I don't really need to be able to pile on layer upon layer (I need maybe 2 color layers plus highlights).

02-11-2008, 05:09 PM
Hi Randy,

I do not know about the Colorfix products, but you will probably find the smoothest surface in the new UART papers. You can purchase these through Dakotapastels.com, and maybe at another online store as well. The grit runs from 400-800. So, probably not as smooth as the 1500, but a mighty nice compromise compared to the other surfaces. The UART is smoother than Wallis, as I work primarily on the Wallis surface, but really like the UART as well.

Good luck!

Deborah Secor
02-11-2008, 05:15 PM
I agree, the UART is the closest to what you describe. You can also get it at Rochester Art (http://www.fineartstore.com/Catalog/tabid/365/List/1/CategoryID/4161/Level/a/Default.aspx), and there are pix of the grits there... I like it a lot!


02-11-2008, 07:45 PM
i was going to say UART as well. in fact, if you call them, they will send you out a nice sized sample of all 4 grits. i do love that paper! i thought it felt very nice, and i didn't notice much dust.

you can also sand the colorfix just a tad, and it makes a wonderful almost velvety like surface. still holds lots of layers too, and has the added bonus of the colored ground.

Donna A
02-11-2008, 07:50 PM
Hi, stormfin! Sounds like what you need to do the most is order a sheet or two of the different papers you are "auditioning." We each have our own "touch" and styles and favorite pastel sticks and surfaces---so we can tell you some things we like about a particular one, but you'll need to try them to see what gives you what you want/need the most.

Sounds like you are really looking for 'subtle' sanded surface. I've tried samples of the Uart and it's really lovely. Wallis is pretty coarse and one of the artists yesterday using it in my portrait workshop ended up with two bloody fingers from it.

I keep liking Colourfix the most and something you might try with your interest in THE smoothest sanded texture is to use some hardware-store fine-grade sand paper to sand down slightly a sheet of Colourfix---which will still retain a sanded texture, but it becomes "mellow" and smoother---yet still holds layers of pastel. If this is not as smooth or mellow as you want yet, you can sand down more, going down several "levels" to get just what you want! I've done this for certain paintings---and sometimes just in particular areas where I want an extremely, extremely fine grain, but still something to hold multiple levels of pastel richly but with very smooth, fine look in the painting.

You can brush or sponge-roll on the Colourfix Primer onto your favorite panel, paper or board to make your own---and sand down accordingly. I've been using the Colourfix since '98 and and have found so many amazing options it provides. And have used pretty much all of the other sanded surfaces, as well. I'm definitely an experimenter!

These days, we have a wonderful range of options for pastel surfaces. Hope you find just the perfect one for you! Very best wishes! Donna ;-}

ps---Oh, I see Chewie just noted the same info about sanding down the Colourfix! Yes! D :-)

02-12-2008, 02:14 PM
I am with Donna on the colorfix. I have a pad of wallis and it is very tough on the fingers. I love the feel of colorfix and new PanPastels just glide over them. You may also want to try the velour boards or papers they are very soft and pleasant to work on and the velour has it's own form of tooth.


02-13-2008, 01:20 PM
Thanks a lot for all of the great advice! I hadn't heard of UART before, that sounds a lot like what I'm looking for.

I don't know why it never occured to me to sand down a ready-made paper if I felt like it was too rough. That's probably a great way to go.

02-15-2008, 09:58 PM

On my blog you'll find a short review of the recent sanded Pastelmat paper from Clairefontaine.
This week I was shown a velour paper from Canson, but didn't tried.
I felt it and it's smoother than Hannehmule. It seems that it won't hold much pastel, but appearances can be deceiving.

Kind regards,


02-17-2008, 01:21 PM
I also did not like the commercial papers available before, for the same reasons you cite, and expected that I would not care for UARTs courser grades. To my surprise, I found that even the 400 worked for certain things, and the 600 turned out to my favorite. Because of the way they make it, the 800 has a very fine appearance, and is wonderful for detail.

One difference I learned is that they use a rounded grit, rather than a sharp grit (sort of like the difference between river sand and beach sand-- the beach sand is softer to the touch because it gets rounded in the surf). I was also told by the UART rep that their grits are very even, with little size variation, making for a more consistent surface.

I still make my own sanded surfaces, though I prefer to use the pumice gel by Golden. I have used it on several different papers, generally applying two coats. Hotpress gives a fine surface, but I prefer cold-press for most things. The texture of the paper gives more dimension to the painting, which I like for my style. I expect I'll be using more of the UART as I use up my existing supply of paper, but I like the control making my own give me over the working surface. Experimenting is fun, and allows me to do things with texture that a ready-made surface doesn't.

That said, one of these days, I am going to order the sample pack myself, just to try out some of the surfaces I haven't yet! I've been turning up my nose at Canson, then decided to use the pad that's just been sitting around to practice some exercises on-- and unexpectedly broke through some kind of barrier and found something I liked! Going to post in weekly sketch if that thread is still around...

Dayle Ann