View Full Version : Strathmore-Pastel paper?

03-30-2008, 08:26 PM
Hey guys,
I'm wondering if you have any tips or experience with Strathmore pastel papers.

I stoped by the store the other day and got some different papers because I'm wanting to experiment with colored papers to see what effects I get.
I'm using 80lb Strathmore, medium tooth colored paper.

I'm finding that it it seems to soak up and dry out my Senns very quickly and it seems harder to push the color around without it getting clumpy.
Any suggestions or is there a better paper to use. This is kind of frustrating me. :envy:


Pat Isaac
03-31-2008, 07:40 AM
I tried that paper once and found it to be similar to canson, though not nearly as good. The tooth and the inability to layer really frustrated me. When I use papers, I now use colorfix (which is a colored paper) and Wallis. I have also used 140lb cold press watercolor paper, sometimes with a gesso prime and sometimes not. I find it easy to layer on these papers and they take the OP very well. Perhaps some other people will give you some more ideas and I know there are other paper that people use and like.


03-31-2008, 12:46 PM
I'm finding that it it seems to soak up and dry out my Senns very quickly and it seems harder to push the color around without it getting clumpy.

Really? that was my impression of Colorfix. I was working on Pat's classroom still life, and any OP I put down was like instant glue--the Holbeins were particularly bad, Senns not quite so much--which is strange, since the two are quite smooth and creamy on Strathmore. It brought me to a halt debating whether to scrap it and start over on Strathmore, but I really wanted to do the project "in Pat's style" using her preference in materials. I'm a novice to OP's, so I have no ego in copying her way rather than doing it my way. Aside from Pat's lesson, I've seen in person an OP artist do beautiful work on it, so maybe I'm too heavy-handed.

As for Strathmore, I've used their pastel and drawing papers and like both. I've had no problem removing the "holes" if you use softer OP's like Senns or Holbeins using blending tools like stumps or color shapers (Pentels don't move, though). And if you leave the holes, they're laid out in a nice, random texture which doesn't detract from the work. You can't put down lots of layers, and edges of lines tend to be a bit "furry", but if you back away from the painting, the image coheres nicely.

The only Strathmore paper I've tried and didn't like with OP's is their Art Paper--it has a linear pattern to its texture which OP's bring out in a really unflattering way (IMO)--I even prefer the Canson Mi-Tientes honeycomb to this. I guess I don't mind holes if they don't unduly draw attention to themselves, but I prefer not to have them and haven't found the pastel or drawing papers getting in the way of that.

Pat Isaac
03-31-2008, 04:16 PM
This is all so interesting and I always tell everyone to try different surfaces, because what works for some doesn't work for others. Try out some different surfaces and see what works best for you.
I'm really surprised at the colorfix problem you are having Bob. See, there is a case in point.


04-01-2008, 01:16 AM
I like the strathmore paper, I basically have the same opinion as Bob on this. I don't know what you mean about clumping but it might mean you need to let the OP set up overnight before adding another layer.

My favorite surface is a layer of gesso over Arches hot press. The acrylic gesso gives this smooth surface a bit of tooth and creates a barrier so that the OP doesn't soak into the paper. If I make a mistake, it's so easy to wipe off with a rag or wipe clean with a bit of odorless mineral spirit, if necessary. Thinner papers like the strathmore or canson will buckle with gesso. Even the bristol vellum curls even though it's taped down.

04-01-2008, 10:34 AM
Sorry for my slow response. My laptop took a nose dive on me and I have to use another PC until I get it fixed. Thanks for all the input. I'm going to the Wallis and colorfix when I get a chance to see how that works. I think I'm a bit of an oddity as I seem to have an easier time with OPs on lighter gage papers. Maybe it has something to do with being a beginer at OPs. I'm not sure.

04-01-2008, 12:02 PM
I guess I would have to agree that I use and tend to like Strathmore paper. In fact, unlike most pastel papers it emphasizes OP as its primary use:

"...a subtle background ideal for oil pastel. Also suitable for..."

I'm wondering if you really are meaning the weight or texture of the paper? Generally, the heavier the weight of the support the easier it is to manipulate. Have you tried something like illustration board or smooth Bristol, or Hot Pressed Watercolor paper all with smoother surfaces?

The reason I ask is that colorfix paper seems to be a somewhat heavier gague paper than Strathmore of MiTientes. Pat what is your take on that?

I just looked and found the following regarding paper weight:

Strathmore Pastel 80 lb.
Mi-Tientes 75 lb.
Colourfix 160lb.+ (actually this is just 160lb watercolor
paper with the gritted primer screened onto it.)
Wallis 120-140lb.

So in terms of paper weight, the Canson and Strathmore are the lightest. If you get Colourfix or Wallis these are significantly heavier weight papers apporaching cardstock.

Hope this helps.

:music: :heart: :music:

04-01-2008, 01:37 PM
I suppose I should tell on myself haha and tell you that what I was working on before I purchased the Strathmore pastel paper, was some Strathmore Charcoal paper at 65lbs I do believe.

I use the Charcoal paper for soft pastel drawings. It's been years since I've worked in OPs. And my experience in them is very limited at that. My first OP drawing ever was a picture of my sisters boys....I was so proud of it I gave it to her for her b-day. She opened it, tried to fake gratitude for it and I never saw it hanging in her house, and found out later she threw it away.
So when I decided to try OP again, I went and purchases the cheepies and started on the paper I had just to try it out. I kind of take the same stance on art supplies as I do golf equipment :lol: . You can either swing the club or you can't, the good stuff will help out but it won't make you swing the club well.

Since I've decided I love OPs again I purchases some Senns and I'm on the holy hunt for paper that I love. Oddly enough it seems my charcoal paper is easier for me to move the OPs around on than the Strathmore Pastel paper.

However I try to give everything new to me the 3 try rule and I"m currently working on a new piece on the pastel paper to see if I can make it work.

I've had a phobia of papers over 100lbs because I was at a loss on how to get my image onto heavy paper. Before I discovered the transfer technique I would do my sketch on cheap paper so I could erase and not damage my final paper, then I would place the paper I wanted to do my painting on over my sketch. With the help of a light I would copy the drawing onto my paper. Therefore if I use heavy paper I won't be able to see my sketch underneath.

However, today I tried covering the back of my sketch with a light layer of an OP and placing it on top of my paper then transferring the sketch that way. It worked like a charm!

I just ordered a portrait set of Senns too. I'm hoping that this set will make it a little easier for me to find flesh tones instead of all the mixing I have been doing to get the right color I want.

Pat Isaac
04-01-2008, 02:05 PM
One reason I like the heavier papers is that the oil from the OPs doesn't seep through them. Even though the oil is inert, I don't like the oil bleed through and it remains that way for quite awhile. I have pieces that I did on Canson 10 years ago and you can still see the bleed through.
Bill. colorfix is just watercolor paper with the primer on it.

When I transfer a drawing I add soft pastel to the back and then go over my drawing with an oil pencil. This technique is explained in my classrooms. Works great. Enjoy the new Senns.


04-01-2008, 03:10 PM
Bill. colorfix is just watercolor paper with the primer on it.


Yes, I know.. The spacing on the post looks wierd, but that's what I was trying to say (Both the Wallis and Colourfix are gritted watercolor paper). I still use heavy watercolor paper for OP frequently.

MS--I guess I must have misunderstood and thought you still wanted to use lighter weight papers and was trying to point out that the Strathmore and MiTientes are much lighter than the papers you were interested in;

So if I misunderstood, my apologies.

:music: :heart: :music:

04-01-2008, 03:58 PM
Paper choice does seem to be a very individual thing. For quite a while I used rough newsprint for sketches, and loved it (although it isn't archival, for sketches it worked fine for me). I also tried some sketches in a sketchbook of quite rough recycled paper and found it did what you describe - the oil in the OP seemed to get soaked up by the paper as soon as I laid my strokes down, and any sort of blending was almost impossible.

My favorite surface right now is board primed with Colorfix primer. I like it even more than Colorfix paper, because it's possible to let the brushstrokes that you've used to apply the primer remain showing, and I find that adds a pleasing texture to the final work. As others have mentioned, trying many different papers is probably the best way to find out what works for you.

One other possibility for transferring drawings is Saral transfer paper (http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-supply-stores/online/4001) (http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-supply-stores/online/4001%29). It has a coating on one side and when you lay it between your sketch and the final surface, the drawing can be transferred easily by drawing over the sketch with a fine pointed pen. I find it much easier and less messy than scribbling over the back of the sketch with OP or SP or other media. It comes in different colors. I believe there are other companies manufacturing transfer paper, but I think Saral is the best known/most widely available.

04-01-2008, 07:38 PM
I suppose I should tell on myself haha and tell you that what I was working on before I purchased the Strathmore pastel paper, was some Strathmore Charcoal paper at 65lbs I do believe. ... Oddly enough it seems my charcoal paper is easier for me to move the OPs around on than the Strathmore Pastel paper.
Hi Eve. There's no need to be apologetic if you prefer the Charcoal paper over the Pastel paper. I have the Charcoal paper but haven't tried it with OP's yet. So far I've tried AS Colorfix, Str. Drawing, Str. Pastel, Canson Mi-Teintes (both sides), Yupo, and Str. Art paper, and I thought they all looked fine with OP except the last, and even it took the OP well but I found its pattern distracting. Over in the WDE, though, I've seen some charcoal drawings where the pattern worked with the art and looked great, so it's not inherently bad. Trying out different papers is part of the fun.

BTW, you can also use charcoal, soft pastel, graphite pencil, even colored pencil, in your transfer technique. Since I was transferring an image to dark paper for Pat's still life classroom, I used white charcoal (since I didn't have the white soft pastel that Pat used) and even small details transferred cleanly.

As regards the "furry" edges of lines on the Pastel paper, you can avoid them by using a ruler or template when drawing them, or smooth them out using a sharpened oil or colored pencil. (In other words, you can draw crisp lines on this paper.) They're really only noticeable while you stand over your work--back up and they disappear. I did this week's WDE with Senns on Canson MT (smooth side) and noticed that lines on it looked fuzzy rather than furry, so there's definitely something subtly different in how the 2 papers receive media. I think the Pastel paper has more tiny, loose threads that catch the OP, causing the furry effect.